Around here we had one of the hardest winters I have seen in a while. It gave many a good excuse to cut back on their workouts and early morning trips to the gym. The new year resolutions to change this year for the better have come and are fading away from memory. Thank goodness the weather is warming up to remind us that summer is coming in just a few more months. Soon it will be shorts and tea-shirts time. Time for summing and beach time for others. It is time to work off that winter hibernation and get serious about our health and weight.
Let’s start with some Diet Myths to make sure we all stay on task:
1 Brown sugar is healthier than white sugar
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It’s often said that brown sugar is a healthier option than white sugar. But the truth is that we are either falling for clever marketing or happily fooling ourselves. In reality, the brown sugar you’ll find in supermarkets and cafes is usually ordinary table sugar that is turned brown by the reintroduction of molasses.
Due to the molasses content, brown sugar does contain minute amounts of minerals. But, unless you eat a gigantic portion of brown sugar every day (not recommended), the mineral content difference between brown and white sugar is pretty insignificant.
2 Your ‘five-a-day’ can come from either fruit or vegetables
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Many people confuse this generalised recommendation because fruit and vegetables tend to get clumped together into the one category.
Your ‘five-a-day’ should be made up of both fruit and vegetables, not just one or the other. Ideally, a heavier emphasis should be placed on vegetables. Clients I work with often get confused and don’t pay attention to a good mix of both. Some prefer to eat fruit only and they forget all the nutrients in their vegetables.
3 Eggs raise cholesterol levels
Dietary cholesterol found in eggs has little to do with the amount of cholesterol in your body. Eggs contain relatively small amounts of saturated fat.
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One large egg contains about 1.5g of saturated fat, which isn’t high. Eggs are often served with other high-fat foods such as butter and cheese, or fried with bacon and sausage which is why they are often associated with high fat. Eggs are extremely nutritious, so go ahead and enjoy them guilt-free.
Boiling or poaching is best and yes, an egg a day is okay!
4 Coffee helps you lose weight
Coffee can raise the metabolism slightly, but it also depends on how you take it. Many of us think nothing of downing a couple of lattes per day and then wonder why our weight-loss efforts aren’t working. Remember, the average latte contains around 200 calories, if you consume two a day that’s as many calories as you’d find in a large croissant! Caffeine affects cravings for food — particularly the sweet variety. So if you’re wondering why you are craving chocolate this afternoon, it could have something to do with that coffee you drank with lunch.
5 Jellies are low fat so won’t cause weight gain
Fruit jellies or jelly sweets may be low in fat but they are packed with sugar which is one of the biggest contributors to weight gain. If you look at the ingredients list on your pack you’ll see that sugar is top of the list — remember, the ingredient listed first is present in the largest amount. The average tube of jellies contains approximately seven teaspoons of sugar. Many companies claim their products are ‘Fat Free’, ‘Natural’ and ‘High in fruit’ to make them sound healthy– don’t fall for it!
6 Red meat is bad for your health
Most of the ill effects associated with red meat are to do with the quality of the meat, quantity consumed and how it is cooked. Red meat is not unhealthy if it is raised naturally and consumed in moderation. In fact, it has many benefits. It contains the most absorbable form of iron and is also high in B vitamins. Naturally raised cattle tend to be leaner and have more Omega-3 fatty acids than their antibiotic and hormone-fed counterparts.
When it comes to meat go for quality over quantity — organic, lean red meat once or twice a week is fine, but avoid processed meats altogether.
7 Never snack between meals
On the contrary, five or six small meals are better than three big meals. When we eat small, regular meals the body is better able to digest and to make effective use of the nutrients within the food.
Even more crucially, this regular intake of calories balances our blood sugar levels, which means we have more energy and are less likely to feel moody. Your body doesn’t register as deep of hunger because of this balance.
8 Fruit juices are super healthy
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While fruit is extremely nutritious, it also contains a significant amount of sugar. This type of sugar is natural and gives us energy, but if we consume too much, it can lead to energy dips and weight gain. When a fruit is juiced, the fibre and pulp are extracted.
It’s the fibre in fruit which helps slow down the absorption of sugar and also keeps our bowel and gut healthy. So, glugging your way through a carton of fruit juice can give you a sugar hit, but then a subsequent sugar crash. In general, it’s best to stick to whole fruits or opt for juices that combine both fruit and vegetables.
9 We need three portions of dairy per day
This way of thinking comes from outdated food pyramids and guidelines supplied by dairy boards. The fact is that while children and teenagers may need this amount of dairy for calcium, the majority of adults do not.
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Dairy products can be beneficial to health when consumed in moderation but many of us over-consume dairy in this country, leading to a variety of digestive, skin and sinus complaints. There are many other ways to keep our bones healthy, they include avoiding the ‘S’ words: smoking, stimulants, sugar, salt and stress, which all leech calcium from the body. Good non-dairy sources of calcium include tinned sardines, nuts, seeds, pulses and green leafy vegetables.
10 Women need 2,000 calories per day
The daily number of calories the food industry recommends for women is 2,000. However, this is not to say that you should aim to eat that amount — the truth is that your body might need more or less than 2,000. Height, weight, gender, age and activity level all affect your caloric needs. For example, a female athlete in her early 20s who is training rigorously for a marathon may need more than 2,000 calories whereas a 40-year-old woman who never exercises, works at a desk all day and spends her evenings in front of the television may well need less.