March 3, 2008

Nutrition Fact vs. Fiction

By Mary B. Morgan, Dietetic Intern
Pinellas County Extension, Family & Consumers

National Nutrition Month logoIn the midst of the latest fad diets and conflicting nutrition advice, it can be a challenge to know what is fact or what is just simply fiction when it comes to nutrition. March is National Nutrition Month and this year’s theme is “Nutrition: It’s A Matter of Fact”. The campaign is designed to focus attention on the importance of making informed food choices and developing sound eating and physical activity habits. In honor of this theme, it seemed appropriate to clear up the confusion surrounding nutrition!

I have researched the top five nutrition myths out there today. I bet you’ve heard of some of them! Read on to see if you can determine whether the statement is “Fact or Fiction”!
  1. Skipping meals helps you lose weight.
    FICTION—In fact, people who skip meals throughout the day (especially breakfast) tend to be heavier than people who eat 4-5 times per day. Why? Because not eating every few hours sends your body into “starvation” mode and so the next meal you eat, your body will cling to every bit of the calories it can hold on to. Skipping meals also slows down the metabolism, which in turn makes it more difficult to lose weight in the long run. Your best plan is to eat small meals throughout the day to keep your metabolism going strong and control your appetite.

  2. You can eat as much low-fat/fat-free food as you want.
    —Low-fat/fat-free does not mean calorie free! Generally, when fat is taken out of the product, sugar and other carbohydrates are added to maintain the taste. Compare the calories in a full fat versus low-fat/fat-free product; you may be surprised that the calories are the same and sometimes even more in the low-fat/fat-free version. Remember—weight comes down to calories consumed, not fat!

  3. Eating after 8pm causes weight gain.
    —It doesn’t matter what time of the day you eat. What matters is how much you eat and how much physical activity you get throughout the day. No matter what time of day you eat, if you consume more calories than you need, your body will store the extra calories as fat.

  4. Fats should be avoided when trying to lose weight.
    FICTION—The truth is, our body needs fat to help in nutrient absorption and nerve transmission—just to name a few of fat’s purposes. However, when consumed in excess amounts, fat contributes to weight gain and other medical problems. It is important to note that all fats are not created equal. Saturated and trans fats (fats found in animal products, baked goods and other commercially prepared products) should be replaced with polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats (fats found in liquid oils, fish and nuts).

  5. “Eating for 2” is necessary during pregnancy.
    FICTION—Energy/calorie needs vary with each individual, but the idea that pregnancy allows a woman to eat double is false. It is recommended that a pregnant woman increase her calorie intake by 100 calories per day during the first trimester and 300 calories per day during the second and third trimester. An extra snack during the day of yogurt or milk, fruit, and an extra dinner roll is often adequate.
Remember, if it is too good to be true—it probably is!
For more information on separating fact and fiction, check out the American Dietetic Association website:

Take the quiz to see if you can determine fact or fiction!

No comments:

Post a Comment