Dieting Myths Busted


There is so much information at our fingertips. Googling a health and nutrition question will give you lots of answers, several conflicting with each other. Who should you believe? We once heard that low-fat was the way to go. Then it was to eat fat but avoid sugar. And make sure you don’t eat too many eggs or it will raise your cholesterol! There are plenty of rules out there on what to eat, and what not to eat. So where should you begin? Let’s talk about some of the most popular statements out there when it comes to eating healthy and find out if there is some truth there, or if it’s just exaggerated. 

“Eating healthy is expensive.”

As a dietitian, I’ve heard this one a lot. Sure, the grocery store can be expensive but it’s not because healthy food is costly. If you are planning for what you’re going to purchase and cook at home throughout the week, you can eat healthy on a budget. You don’t have to purchase the best cut meat and you don’t have to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables that are not in season, when they are higher in price. When grocery shopping and aiming to choose healthier foods, plan out your meals. Look at what is in season and what’s on sale as you are making your grocery list. Most of the time, choosing balanced plate options that are whole foods and not processed can be less expensive. And guess what? They can be more filling and last longer in your body, so you need less food! Don’t forget to compare what you spend when eating out, not just your grocery store receipt. If you compare planning ahead and buying balanced options to cook at home with going out to eat, you’ll realize that eating at home and focusing on purchasing balanced options is more cost-effective than going out to eat. 

“Eating late causes weight gain.”

Timing of meals is important, but there is no magical time to stop eating each day. Research does not consistently show us that eating after a certain time causes weight gain. It’s important to eat at regular times throughout the day to fuel our bodies. If it means eating dinner at 8:00 pm because your kids had soccer practice until 7:30, don’t worry! Just make sure to fuel your body with a balanced snack to tide you over until 8:00 pm. The challenge that many people face is that they do not eat on a regular schedule. If you are eating dinner later in the evening, and you haven’t fueled your body properly throughout the day, you may be overly hungry by that point. And we all know what happens when we are too hungry – we choose higher calorie options and tend to overeat! The creamy alfredo pasta sounds much better than baked chicken, rice, and roasted broccoli. Your food choice and amount of food eaten because you are too hungry is what leads to weight gain, not the time you ate your meal. 

“Avoid eating _______ if you want to be healthy and lose weight.”

There is a fill in the blank space there for a reason. That missing word may be fat or carbohydrates or gluten. You’ll notice that depending on who you talk to, there is something different in that space. Anytime that you are avoiding an entire type of food, it should be of concern.  The three main sources of nutrients, called macronutrients, are carbohydrates, protein, and fat. Avoiding one of these will possibly cause your body to miss out on important nutrients. And these three macronutrients work well together to fuel our bodies throughout the day. It may not be flashy or give you a quick fix, but balanced eating and incorporating all food groups helps your body long-term. The amount of these food groups is what you should be focused on, not skipping any type of food completely. Note: There are certain medical conditions that may cause you to avoid a type of food. That is a diagnosis that a physician can help you determine and guide you through, as well as a registered dietitian. 

“A calorie is a calorie.”

As stated earlier, there are three macronutrients that are essential for our bodies throughout the day: protein, carbohydrates, and fat. And yes, these contain calories and are made up of different amounts of calories but 100 calories of candy is very different from 100 calories of high-fiber crackers, for example. If you were to eat 100 calories of candy, it will digest quickly and you will be hungry soon, if not immediately after. However, if you eat 100 calories of a high-fiber cracker, your body will be fuller because that food choice contains different nutrients that are more filling. That does not mean you should be avoiding candy completely if you love it! Just recognize that calories are not created equal and just counting calories will not help you improve your health and weight. 

As nutrition information continues to increase on social media, through blogs and on the news, be aware that not all information has been proven through research and every person’s health journey is different. Use sound judgment and reach out to a registered dietitian if you have questions or want individualized nutrition information to help you reach your health goals!


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