Busting 6 Popular Food & Nutrition Myths

We are surrounded by confusing and contradictory food and nutrition advice on the internet, in our homes and even from dieticians. Over the years, some food myths have become so prevalent that we have started to believe them as fact. It’s time to educate ourselves and dispel these myths.

 

1. Fat-free or low-fat snacks are better than their full-fat versions

There is an entire industry created to feed off people’s fear of fatty foods. But the simple fact is that every time fat is removed from a snack, it is usually replaced by more sugar, salt and other additives to retain the yummy taste. Yes, even in the ‘baked’ versions of crunchy chips. While there is nothing wrong in eating these snacks, you may be fooled into thinking that you do not have to control your portions because they are low-fat, and will end up overeating. 

If you get cravings for crunchy, salty foods (we all do!), eat a small, controlled portion of your favourite chips and save the rest for later. If you think you are not yet disciplined enough to do this, replace the snacks with a few nuts like peanuts, pista and cashews so you get your crunchy fix while also getting in some micronutrients and healthy fats.

 

2. Eggs are bad news if you want to control your cholesterol levels

Unless you have been advised by your doctor or a certified nutritionist, there is no need to stay away from eggs or egg yolk in your daily diet. In fact, eggs are an inexpensive powerhouse of nutrients like zinc, iron, Vitamin D and more, all of which are important to keep our brain and bodies healthy and happy. A study conducted in 2018 found that eggs in themselves do not contribute to having high cholesterol. That is usually the result of a poor, unbalanced diet and lack of exercise over many years. 

If you do eat eggs, safely add one whole egg (with the egg yolk) or one whole egg plus one egg white into your daily diet and feel your health improve.

 

3. Carbs are the enemy

It’s actually the overprocessed, refined grains that are the enemy. A healthy portion of rice, wheat, jowar, bajra, etc. in our daily diets is essential to create balanced meals that keep us full for longer. Same goes for starchy vegetables like potatoes and yams. When paired with proteins and fats, carbs make a complete meal that keeps us satiated and energised throughout the day. That means fewer cravings and lower dependence on caffeine.

Embrace whole grains in your daily diet and eat bread, instant noodles and pasta in moderation. Research shows that people who centre the majority of their diet around whole grains are 20-30% less likely to suffer from heart disease. 
 

4. I work out, so I can eat what I want

Regular exercise is vital to keep our bodies and mind healthy. But we need to move away from thinking of exercise as just a way to burn calories and more as an integral part of our lifestyle. As they say, ‘you cannot outrun a bad diet’. So if you are using your exercise regimen as an excuse to eat unbalanced meals that are full of salty, processed foods you will eventually see the consequences on your waistline and health. Additionally, unless you are a pro athlete and spend hours doing intense exercise, it does not really burn that many calories.

This Harvard Health article gives you a breakdown of the average calories burned in each workout. For example, a 70kg person doing high-impact aerobics for half an hour burns 260 calories. In comparison, a regular-sized Snickers bar (52 grams) has around 250 calories. It’s that easy to undo all your hard work! Complement your workouts with balanced, nutritious meals, so you can indulge in your favourite treats occasionally. 

 

5. Brown bread is better than white

Don’t be swayed by what the front of any food package says. Always flip it over and read the ingredients. We are made to believe that brown bread is better because it is made with whole wheat but in reality, it is the same ‘white’ bread that has been dyed brown. If you are looking for a healthier alternative to white bread, you should see ‘whole wheat’ listed first in the ingredients list. Anything else is almost always a gimmick.

 

6. Eating after 8 PM spells doom for your diet

While most of us eat our big meals at around the same time during the day, we also have to take into consideration different diet and sleep patterns. So while a 7 PM mealtime works great for someone who sleeps by 10-10:30, it could cause problems for others.

Say you’re a night owl and prefer working or studying well into the night and don’t sleep before midnight. Sticking to a 7 PM mealtime just because it’s deemed healthy is a surefire way to ensure that you go to bed hungry, are unable to concentrate, or give in to your cravings and end up snacking on unhealthy foods. Instead, tailor your meal times around your schedule, eat your last meal two hours before you sleep and be more mindful of eating balanced meals while staying within your calorie range. Add in a daily moderate workout, and you will be as healthy as anyone else following a strict 8 PM dinner time schedule.

 

With so much misinformation floating around on social media and even being passed down the generations in our families, it’s easy to fall for fads and prevalent myths. If you need guidance for your diet, always consult a registered nutritionist.

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