Common Diet Misconceptions
When it comes to our diet, very few of us actually enlist the help of a trained professional to educate us and guide us on the right path to healthy eating. For some reason we prefer to listen to the often questionable dietary information plastered all over the media and will often follow its advice whether it makes us feel better or not. Trained health professionals such as Dietitians are often taken aback by new fad diets or miracle foods being pushed by the media. Here are some of the top dietary myths that seem to get a large amount of media play time.
No Food After ‘X’ o’clock
Although our bodies are able to determine shifts in time and act accordingly, food digestion and absorption is not one of the bodily functions affected by the clock. Food will be processed exactly the same way, no matter what the clock says. Eat that pizza at 12pm or 1am; your body will deal with it in exactly the same way. The logic, if any, behind this statement is more about quantity. Night time hours are generally for sleeping and this would then mean not eating. If we start to eat in our ‘non eating’ hours, our total daily kilojoules consumed will increase. This can contribute to weight gain. Additionally, we often go for sweet, high fat and high Kilojoules foods at night when we feel tired and exhausted. If your night time snack is a healthy option, or even a portion controlled treat it will have no drastic effect on your weight.
Carbohydrate = Weight Gain
It is a shame carbohydrate has such a dreadful stigma. For a food group that contains so many great vitamins and minerals and a fantastic source of fibre, it has been harshly criticised in the media and labelled a weight gain food. In reality, eating carbohydrate will not make you fat, and if you were to eliminate carbohydrate altogether, your diet would pretty much consist of meat, dairy, fats and nuts. Carbohydrates are essential to life. They are the brains only source of energy. Without them you feel sluggish, moody and irritable and your organs are placed under stress. The only reason weight loss occurs when carbohydrate is eliminated is that you are just eliminating an entire food group. A group that tends to normally provide a large portion of daily intake. You are essentially just cutting Kilojoule intake. It is difficult to maintain a low carbohydrate intake for an extended period of time. We are not engineered to live without carbohydrate, and the body will only maintain energy levels for so long before you are feeling so lousy you are back on the carbohydrate wagon and over consuming anything and everything to make yourself feel better. Moderation is the key!
Fat Free is the Key to Weight Loss
Wrong! Our bodies need fat to function and depriving them of fat only makes things harder. In fact, a reasonable amount of fat in the diet will help promote satiety, thus meaning we will likely eat less overall. Eliminating fat will only cause you to over eat other food groups that contain kilojoules and add to overall daily consumption. It is important to include fats every day, but choose unsaturated fats such as nuts, seeds, olive oil and fatty fish. Fats are also important for immunity, metabolism, vitamin absorption and skin health.
In addition to this myth, diet and fat free products are not everything they claim to be. Look carefully at nutrition labels. It is highly likely that ‘diet’ or ‘fat free’ products are ‘loaded with sugar and maybe additives so it can have an acceptable flavour and longer shelf life.
Dairy = Weight Gain
Another crazy media myth that has had alarming repercussions is no dairy. Dietitians often see clients who have totally eliminated dairy from their diets as a way to decrease fat. Unfortunately for these clients they have been seriously mislead and have been depriving themselves of essential nutrients such as calcium, magnesium, zinc and proteins. Eliminating dairy will likely not lead to weight loss, as it generally does not make up a large portion of our daily diet. Low fat dairy products are great options for those wishing to lower their overall fat intake. Make sure though that the sugar content does not go up just because the fat content has come down. The Australian Dietary Guidelines recommend 2-3 serves of dairy per day, so enjoy your milk, cheese and yoghurt and know you are doing your body a favour.
No Food = Weight Loss
This one actually sounds like it would work, if the human body wasn’t such an amazing specimen. In actual fact, giving up eating altogether actually makes weight loss harder. Firstly, your body registers the total lack of kilojoules being consumed and in an effort to continue functioning it hangs on to everything it has and minimises energy use as much as possible. Secondly, without adequate carbohydrate coming in you start to feel pretty foggy, lethargic and grumpy. This makes it near impossible to exercise and you will likely have severe cravings. In most cases, individuals who cut out food altogether may last a few days before they are back to eating, and very likely overeating to make up for how terrible they have been feeling.
The Healthiest Option on the Menu is Always the Salad
Wrong! The key word here is ‘always’. A salad is healthy if it contains lots of vegetables, lean meats, some healthy fats such as avocado, egg or nuts and even a moderate portion of cheese. That would definitely be a healthy menu item. But when salads start to contain fried or fatty meats, oily croutons and creamy sauces or cheese overload they are no longer a good choice. In fact, they may contain as much fat and kilojoules as a steak burger or pasta. Scrutinize the salad options before placing your order and ask for the salad minus the unhealthy additions with dressing on the side.
Added to site on : Monday, 8 December 2014