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Some common food myths

Fruit Juice is ok because it’s fruit

Fruits and vegetables provide our bodies with a variety of nutrients. One of the most nutrient dense and nutritious parts of the fruit are the pulp and skin which, when you buy a fresh fruit juice from the shops (don’t even get me started on the bottled sugar that they call juice at the supermarket) is often left out While there is nothing wrong with fruit juice, you have to think about it like this, when you go to eat an orange you would generally just eat one. While to get a decent amount of juice you can sometimes have to use up to 4 oranges, in other words a lot of sugar getting loaded into your body at one time. When I have juices I tend to have a bit of fruit but add more vegetables. My Favorite ones are carrot, cucumber and pineapple or beetroot, carrot and pineapple.

Gluten free is healthier for you

Many people believe that just because something is gluten free that it is instantly healthy or good for you. Yes all the gluten free grains such as amaranth, millet, quinoa or buckwheat are great for you and provide lots of essential nutrients. These grains are great for you in moderation and in their natural form. However – sorry but there’s always a however - there are a lot of gluten free products such as biscuits and cakes which are sometimes worse for you and higher in sugar and calories than the gluten containing equivalents. To compensate for taking the gluten out of these products, to help improve the texture and taste sometimes there can be a lot more added sugar and unnecessary preservatives. Just because it says gluten free don’t always think that you are doing yourself a favour and being healthy. Unless you have been diagnosed with coeliac disease or are gluten intolerant there is nothing wrong with eating these grains in moderate amounts. And there is the operative word … moderation … as in not having 4 pieces of bread a day along with cereal for breakfast and pasta for dinner.

Carbohydrates make you fat

Contrary to what people think it’s not carbohydrates that make you fat, it’s too many calories consumed in total that contributes to obesity and weight gain. Although there is no risk that loading up on refined carbohydrates such as white bread, ice cream and cakes that increase your risk of developing heart disease and diabetes. If you skip out of the good sorts of carbohydrates such as whole grains, beans, legumes, fruit and vegetables you are depriving your body of essential vitamins, minerals and nutrients. Many people say that on low carb diets they lose more weight and that is just because a low carb diet is more restrictive and it is generally the reduction in TOTAL calories that helps the weight loss, not specifically the reduction in carbohydrates. But realistically, the best type of diet is the one that you can stick too and the one that works for you!

Calories eaten at night are more fattening than those eaten early in the day.

I’ve heard this numerous times - I don’t eat carbohydrates at night. And yes there can be truth to this, but not because the calories you are eating are more “fattening” or that a slice of pizza is going to cause more weight gain just because it’s are eaten at night. Calories are calories whether they are eaten breakfast, noon or night. The only reason why not eating carbohydrates at night would be necessary is if you are losing weight and are on a calorie restricted diet thus most people would then try and avoid eating these at night. And basically at night your body is slowing down getting ready for bed. You aren’t going to need all those carbs to keep you energized while you sleep. However on the flip side, if you do exercise at night or are a shift worker and work nights, then you might not have many starchy carbs at lunchtime (i.e. sweet potato) and would then need them to refuel at night after you work out.

Snacking and having smaller meals keeps your metabolism stocked and helps you control your weight easier

Our metabolism gets fired up each time we eat to process what we have just eaten. This does cause us to burn a few more calories however the difference in calories burnt is so miniscule. Having small healthy snacks between meals can help people trying to lose weight by keeping them full and thus preventing them overeating when they do sit down to eat. However, eating just for the sake of eating can do just the opposite and cause people to mindlessly eat when they aren’t hungry and their body doesn’t need it. Bottom line … it’s simple … listen to your body, eat when you’re hungry, don’t eat when you’re not and figure out a eating pattern that works for you and your work/lifestyle.

Coffee is unhealthy and should be avoided

Ok here’s one I know many people will be happy to know. You can drink coffee … well conditionally. Don’t go drinking those 7 cups a day until you finish reading this. Previously coffee was considered unhealthy because of the caffeine but has now been studied and shown to have several health benefits. Coffee is the biggest source of antioxidants in the western diet even outranking fruit and vegetables … ok I’m going to let all you coffee drinkers soak that in for a second. Studies have also shown that coffee drinkers have a lower risk of Alzheimer’s, Parkinsons and type 2 diabetes. However (Sorry all good things have a catch) for people with IBS or other digestive problems, coffee and caffeine exacerbates these so it is better avoided. Also people with Anemia (a deficiency of iron), drinking coffee or black tea, or having chocolate with meals especially those foods high in iron, the caffeine will cause Iron loss so can sometimes make it worst so best avoided in this situation also.

Eating Fat makes you fat

This depends entirely on the context. Yes if the fat is biscuits, cakes and excess chocolate. Diets that are both high in fat AND in carbohydrates contribute to excess weight gain and obesity, but this this not because of the fat. “Good” fats such as avocado, olive and coconut oils and raw unsalted nuts are essential for good cognitive and brain function (and even more so in pregnancy) and help your hair, skin and nails.

Low fat foods are healthier

Now this is something that I’m glad most people are becoming aware of. When the good natural fat is removed from a product lets be honest it doesn’t taste anywhere near as good. So to combat this and make their products more desirable and palatable manufacturers added A LOTTTTT of unnecessary sugar instead. The truth about this is the excess sugar is incredibly harmful but the good natural fats in the product aren’t. Long and short of it … choose full fat every time!

All calories are created equal

This is just simply not true. Different foods and macronutrients (carbohydrates, protein and fat) go through different metabolic pathways, have varying effects on fat burning, hormones (insulin, leptin and ghrelin to name a few) and the brain center that regulates appetite. A high protein diet can increase the metabolic rate by approx. 80-100 calories per day and significantly reduce appetite. In one study, people on a high protein diet ate around 440 fewer calories and lost 11 pounds in 12 weeks by adding extra protein in their diet.

Egg yolks are bad for you

Eggs are probably one of the most nutrient dense and nutritious foods on the planet and almost all of the nutrients are found in the yolk. Most people are told not to eat the yolk as it is high in cholesterol. Many studies have shown that cholesterol in the diet has remarkably little effect on cholesterol in the blood (in the majority of people) and that eggs raise the “good” cholesterol and don’t affect their risk of heart disease. People with diabetes though are told to eat eggs with caution as some studies have shown an increase heart attack risk in diabetics.

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