Don’t be misled by food myths,
make wiser food choices and
enjoy what you eat:
A Healthy Balance

Nourishing Your Body. Tuning Your Life Force.

Food myths are misconceptions about food nutrition and healthy eating. We believe to properly enjoy foods and live a healthy lifestyle you need education about food. The insights included below will help you better understand proper nutrition, weight loss and some effects of physical activity on well-being and A Healthy Balance.

Food Myth: All fats are bad and you should eliminate them from your diet

Fats are an essential part of a healthy diet. They aid cell membrane health, nutrient absorption and contribute to nervous system function. Fat is no more the culprit of becoming overweight than carbohydrates or proteins are. Of course when we consume too much fat in our diet it can contribute to weight gain and can lead to heart disease and some types of cancer.

There are different types of fat and all are not equally healthy. Unsaturated fats (mono or poly) actually promote good health and are frequently called “good fats”. These come from nuts, avocados, canola, olives, corn, soy and sunflower oils. Saturated fats and trans fats are often called “bad fats”.

Saturated fats are prominent in fatty meats and full fat dairy products as well as coconut and palm oil. While they can raise your cholesterol if consumed in abundance, calling them “bad” is really a misnomer.

Many processed foods are made with hydrogenated oils or trans fats which may provide extended food shelf life but are not healthy to your body.

Food Myth: You should avoid carbohydrates/starches to lose weight

While there are many “low carb diets”, be aware that carbohydrates are the primary source of energy for your body and are quite necessary. When dieting you should reduce total caloric intake. However, for good health this needs to be accomplished in a balanced fashion, reducing consumption of all macronutrietnts. A Healthy Balance.

Most initial weight loss with low carb diets occurs from the natural loss of water when your body burns stored carbohydrates. As soon as you replenish this stored energy, you will gain back the water and the weight. To keep from yo-yoing, you need to focus on burning stored fat. (See the weight loss tab for more information on weight loss.)

Many foods high in starch like bread, rice, pasta, cereals, beans, fruits and potatoes are low in fat and calories. They only contribute high calories when portion sizes are too large or you add high-fat toppings such as mayonnaise, butter or sour cream.

Food Myth: You should avoid red meat because it’s bad for your health

Protein is essential for cellular health. While some choose to get protein from soy, nuts, eggs or chicken, red meats are an excellent source of B vitamins, iron, zinc and phosphorous. And most of us believe they taste great!

The negative perception of meat comes from flavorful cuts that have a high percentage of saturated fat. If you select leaner cuts or remove the skin most of the fat from red as well as white meats, they can be a healthy balanced part of your diet.

A common issue with all proteins is portion size. When you consider that men should only consume about 8 ounces and women about 6 ounces of protein A DAY, it suggests that the 3 egg omelet, quarter pounders or steaks that cover a plate are the real culprit. Become acclimated to a proper 3-4 ounce portion for healthy diets and enjoy your meats. In general a healthy portion size of protein is about the size of a deck of cards.

Food Myth: Dairy products are fattening and unhealthy

Dairy products contribute many nutrients that your body needs. They offer protein to build muscles and help your organs work properly as well as being a great source of calcium to strengthen bones. The reason most milk or yogurts are fortified with vitamin D are to help your body utilize the calcium prevalent in dairy products.

A healthy balanced diet typically requires 3 dairy servings per day. By selecting low fat or fat free versions you get all the nutrition with fewer calories.

Food Myth: If you need to lower your cholesterol, you should avoid seafood

While it is true that most seafood and some red meats are naturally high in cholesterol, research has found that consumption of these proteins have little effect on the cholesterol level in your blood.

What raises blood cholesterol are high quantities of saturated and trans fats. Avoid consuming lots of chips, deep-fried foods and fatty meat cuts and you will avoid high serum cholesterol.

Food Myth: Avoid nuts because they are really fattening

Nuts are high in the “good” fats as well as plant sterols and can be a part of a healthy diet. They also contribute dietary fiber and important minerals including magnesium and copper.

The common issue with nuts is that because they are so nutritionally dense, portion size is smaller than many people think. Depending on the variety, a portion size is about a quarter cup. For example, 12 cashews equal 145 calories of energy while a half ounce of mixed nuts is about twice that. So keep from eating half a jar and enjoy your nuts.

Food Myth: Low fat or fat free means few calories

While it may be true that low or no fat versions of a food may be lower in calories than the same portion of the same full fat product, this often misleads people into thinking that there is a significant reduction. Many processed and packaged food items add extra sugar or starches to improve flavor and texture when fat is removed and these ingredients add calories back.

And the biggest myth is that you can eat all of the fat free foods that you want. Large portion sizes of something that only has a modest decrease in calories per ounce can cause you to increase your caloric intake dramatically. So no, you can’t eat the whole bag of fat free chips or quart of fat free ice cream.

The major benefit of choosing low fat or fat free products is that they are more nutritionally dense. For example, skim milk contains the same nutrients as full fat with fewer calories.

Food Myth: A balanced diet will provide you with all the nutrients you need

While it is possible to achieve reasonable health just focusing on consuming well rounded diets of healthier foods, it’s virtually impossible to achieve a healthy nutritional balance without supplements.

Diets tend to be quite seasonal. During the summer months we tend to eat more fresh fruits and vegetables and we often have cravings for hearty comfort foods in the fall and winter.

And common stresses keep us from fully absorbing all the nutrients in the foods we eat.

Most people who are striving for optimal health benefit from discovering their personal nutritional requirements and using supplements to reach those needs. A-Healthy-Balance would like to help you achieve your personal nutritional balance through consultations.

Food Myth: If you want to lose weight, it’s good to skip meals

We all know that to lose weight we need to consume fewer calories than we expend. And if we skip meals, we should consume less calories, correct?

Not actually. Skipping meals can be quite harmful to a good weight loss regimen for two reasons. First, when you skip meals your body naturally slows down its metabolism to compensate for the lack of digestion. And a lower metabolism means you are lethargic and burn fewer calories in your normal activities. As well, because skipping meals makes us very hungry we tend to eat more the next meal we do eat.

So overall when skipping meals we tend to eat more and burn less. Not what the doctor ordered to cause weight loss.

A more prudent approach is to actually eat more times a day. Just make sure they are smaller portions and healthy foods.

Dietitians have proven that the most important meal of the day is breakfast, yet it is also the most commonly skipped meal. (No, a cup of coffee doesn’t count as a healthy breakfast.) Increase your energy and get your day off to a great start with a hearty, healthy balanced breakfast.

If you want to lose weight, try to reduce your total caloric intake at least 500 calories below your normal requirements and get at least a moderate amount of physical activity every day. This will cause you to lose a healthy 1-2 pounds per week and over time you will achieve your weight loss goals.

Food Myth: Certain foods like grapefruit, celery or cabbage can burn fat and help you loose weight

NO food can help you burn fat. Some foods with caffeine may speed up your metabolism for a very short period, but they do not cause weight loss. And the added caffeine often creates stress that disturbs your digestive tract so you actually absorb less nutrients which decreases your well-being and moves you away from A Healthy Balance.

Your basic metabolism plus the extra energy utilized in physical exercise burns calories. When you consume less calories than the calories you burn, you lose weight. The nature of your diet determines if the extra calories you burn come from fat or muscle or other tissues.

Food Myth: Vegetarian diets are healthier than diets including meat

It is the case that vegetarians have lower body weights on average than the typical person. However, this is more about being health aware than the specific nutrition of their diet. And nutritionally aware people tend to consume fewer calories. These aren’t the folks going to fast food restaurants 5 days a week getting supersized combo meals.

It is critical that vegetarian diets must be well planned to achieve nutritional balance. Nutrients that vegetarian diets often deficient in include protein, iron, calcium, vitamin D, vitamin B12 and zinc.

Our belief is that meats can be a normal part of a healthy diet. While it is possible to consume a healthy balanced diet as a vegetarian, people choose to follow a vegetarian practice should do so because of personal values rather than for nutritional benefit.

Food Myth: Brown eggs are healthier than white eggs

There are many false rumors going around about natural and organic foods that are perceived to be more nutritious. One such myth is that brown shelled eggs are better for you than common white shelled eggs.

The fact of the matter is that chickens with white feathers produce white eggs and chickens with red feathers produce brown eggs. Since most commercial egg producers focus on prolific genetic types with white feathers makes white eggs more common. There is no difference between the nutritional content or taste of these different eggs.

It’s how you prepare your eggs that determine if they are healthy or not.

Food Myth: Sugar causes diabetes

While it is true that if you have diabetes you need to manage your blood sugar level by moderating consumption of sugars and carbohydrates. However, if you do not have diabetes, it is untrue that over consumption of sugar will cause it.

The main risk factors of type 1 diabetes are hereditary. The risk factors of type 2 diabetes are being overweight and having a sedentary lifestyle. Should you have a family history of diabetes or are overweight, we suggest you work directly with a nutritionist or physician to manage your blood sugar level and exercise moderately.

Food Myth: Women who are pregnant must eat for 2

Different individuals have different caloric requirements dependent on your weight, height and level of activity. While being pregnant does increase hunger and cravings for certain foods, it is not true that pregnant women should significantly increase portion sizes or their total dietary intake.

Recommendations are that during the first trimester the healthy balanced diet should increase by 100 calories and in the second two trimesters the increase should be 300 calories per day. Since a normal sized woman requires about 2000 calories per day, that means they only need to increase consumption 5-15%. This translates to one to two extra healthy snacks per day.

The most critical factor for a healthy pregnancy is having a well rounded, nutritionally balanced diet. Because the growing baby requires protein to build its tissues, you should marginally increase this component of your diet during pregnancy.

Food Myth: Fast food restaurants must be avoided to eat healthy

OK, supersize combo meals must be avoided. However, most restaurants have added healthier choices to help you make prudent selections when you need to eat convenience meals.

Choose salads or grilled foods and avoid the extra large burgers. When you can, eliminate the high-fat high-calorie toppings like bacon, cheese, mayonnaise and sour cream. Select water, fat free milk or coffee rather than soda or a milk shake. And if you must have the fries, savor the small size bag.

As it turns out, like most things related to health, A Healthy Balance is the key.

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