8 Common Nutrition Myths – “Nutrition and Healthy, Affordable Eating” Series

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This past Saturday I had the great opportunity to teach a class on nutrition and healthy, affordable eating.  Though I hadn’t intended on making a blog series out of it, the ladies there expressed an interest in having somewhere they could come to review the information we covered.

So today as the first installment in my impromptu series on Nutrition and Healthy, Affordable Eating…

8 common nutrition myths

Common Nutrition Myths

A gluten-free diet will help you lose weight.

FALSE.  Gluten-free products are often filled with excess fat and sugar to compensate for the lack of gluten protein.  There has been a lot of gluten-free hype in recent years.  This topic, in fact, deservest its own blog post due to its complexity and at what length I could discuss it.  Gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye and barley, can cause serious problems like inflammation, fatigue, headaches, and weakened immune function in individuals with celiac disease or a gluten sensitivity.  If you suffer from gluten sensitivity, the products that line gluten-free aisles may help keep your symptoms at ease, but they may not keep you slim.  When grocery shopping look for gluten-free whole grains, such as quinoa, amaranth, and buckwheat.

common nutrition myths

img credit – Molly Elliott

When a food is labeled “Multigrain” it is rich in whole grains.

FALSE. This is not always the case.  “Multigrain” simply means that several types of grains are used in the making of a product.  This could also include refined grains that are less nutritionally dense. “Whole grain” is defined as containing the entire grain (bran, endosperm, and germ). When looking for whole-grain products, be sure the first ingredient listed is a grain and contains the word “whole”.  It might help to look for the Whole Grains Council’s stamp, which means at least a half of a serving of whole grains are contained in the product. It is also a good idea to read the entire label.  Much like gluten-free packaged products, some whole grain products contain more sugar, fat or sodium than you thought you were buying.

Sugar-free and fat-free items are practically calorie-free or very low in fat.

FALSE! Just like the multigrain statement above, labels can be misleading.  People often opt for the sugar-free or fat-free varieties because they think they are the healthier option.  This is often not the case.  Items that decrease sugar or fat to qualify as “sugar-free” usually increase fat and sodium content and vice versa for “fat-free” (defined as less than .5 grams of sugar or fat per serving) products.

 

“Zero grams trans fat” on the label means you’re not getting any trans fat in your food.

FALSE!  Oh labels, labels.  The FDA allows any food with .5 grams of trans fat or less to claim “0 grams trans fat” on the label. If you  eat several servings or a few different ‘trans fat-free’ foods during a day, you can wind up consuming a measurable amount of trans fats.  Trans fats lead to increased levels of artery-clogging, bad (LDL) cholesterol.  Read the ingredient list, and if you see “hydrogenated” or “partially-hydrogenated oil” listed, put the package down and step away.

Fats and cholesterol are bad for you.

FALSE.  The body needs fat. It’s a major energy source and also helps you absorb certain vitamins and nutrients. Only some fats are bad for you: saturated fats and trans fatty acids, or trans fats. These bad fats boost your chances of developing heart disease by increasing two of its main risk factors: LDL cholesterol and triglycerides. (See the low-fat myth above and don’t be afraid to eat healthy, full fat foods.)

vegetables in whole foods market

img credit – Mashiro Ihara

When it comes to produce organic, non-organic, it’s all the same.

FALSE.  I’ve heard some say, organic produce is just for pretentious, granola hippies.  Others may say eating only organic is the only way to go.  While both organic and non-organic produce is chock full of nutrients, you’ll find that some non-organic produce is also chock full of pesticides.  I say, sure, if you want to and can afford it, go ahead and buy all organic.  If, however, your grocery budget is more like the average American’s, check out this list of the Dirty Dozen produce.

 Diet soda is better than regular soda when you’re trying to lose weight.

Give you one guess…yep, it is FALSE! According to recent research on diet soda by professor and neuroscientist Susie Swithers at Perdue University, “Findings from a variety of studies show that routine consumption of diet sodas, even one per day, can be connected to higher likelihood of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, metabolic syndrome and high blood pressure, in addition to contributing to weight gain.” She goes on to say something that we tell our own kids about soda: “It’s really candy in a can. If people think of it as candy, they would say that they wouldn’t have candy at every meal.”

Eating late at night will make you gain weight.

While this one is not a resounding “false”, I would categorize it as “not necessarily true”! Eating late night snacks will not make you fat…if you choose your snacks wisely.  Calories are calories no matter what time of day you consume them.  Research has shown that many people who eat after dinner do so, not because they are hungry, but to stave off boredom, deal with stress, or satisfy food cravings.  When eating for these reasons, people tend to make poor food choices (think lots of sugars and unhealthy fats) and overeat.  To avoid weight gain from late night snacking make sure you watch your portions and opt for a light, healthy snack.

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About Amy @ Oh So Savvy Mom

Amy is mom to three, wife to one, and a sister and aunt to many. Her family is a former military family now settled in Lehi, Utah. Oh So Savvy Mom began as a way for Amy to share parenting and product advice with others. Just as she has evolved, Oh So Savvy Mom has evolved into a resource for Healthy Living for Families, Food, Parenting, and Family Travel.

Comments

  1. Mary Beth Elderton says:
    Good information! There is so much misinformation floating around right now that it is difficult to plow through it all.
  2. Rebecca Parsons says:
    A lot of interesting information I didn't really know. Will be reminded of this next time I am in the grocery store.
  3. Wonderful tips! I wish the gluten-free for weight loss fad would end. Definitely pinning these for later. Thanks!
  4. Interesting facts, especially the late night eating one! I'm totally guilty of that.
  5. I don't like the Gluten-free for weight loss either. However I think 98% of Americans consume too much gluten and it does contribute to belly bloat. When I switched to paleo I quickly learned that if I was going to cheat I better not do it with gluten as it has the quickest and most upsetting result to my digestive track.
  6. Awesome myth busting post. So many people believe them too. Great reminder as I head back into healthy land!
  7. very helpful advice! there are a ton of myths out there.
  8. shelly peterson says:
    This is really some great information. food labels sure can be confusing. thanks for sharing this info.
  9. Downloading the dirty dozen list NOW!
  10. Thanks for this informative post. In particular, I find the "dirty dozen" to be useful when I'm at the grocery store trying to decide where to splurge and where to save.
  11. nicole dziedzic says:
    Love the list of dirty dozen produce, so helpful, I buy organic when I can. This article is so helpful!