The nutrition field, and more specifically dieting, is full of myths and half-truths. Every “expert” has an opinion and finds followers desperate to believe these opinions as truth. If it sounds good it will probably find supporters. Once a myth gains momentum it steamrolls its way into popular culture. Once it is entrenched it is very difficult to debunk the myth. If it is published in a magazine or overheard on television it becomes fact. Diet myths are a dime a dozen with new ones cropping up all the time. Below are five popular myths, and why they are not true.
1. Genetics. If you have bad genetics you will not be able to lose weight, or if you do lose weight it will come right back on. This simply is not true. Genetics plays a strong role in a person’s predisposition for weight gain, but does not doom them. Many people have been genetically “coded” for certain diseases but with proper nutrition and health care they avoid developing them. This holds true for obesity as well. Just because a person is predisposed to weight gain does not mean that they can never reach their ideal weight and maintain it. They may have to work harder than others but it can be done. The truth to this myth is that these individuals have to be more vigilant because if they slide they can easily gain the weight back.
2. Salad Myth. Many dieters think that having a salad, no matter what kind, constitutes a healthy meal. It is true that a leafy, green salad with a few other vegetables and a light amount of dressing is healthy. However, many dieters will add chicken, ham, eggs, nuts, croutons, bacon, or other heavy food choices to their salad, rendering it unhealthy. Then they add nearly a half-cup of salad dressing to smother what little bit of green might have been showing. Now, a potential low-calorie salad becomes a heavy, calorie laden mess. This is the equivalent of the dieter who goes into McDonald’s and orders a Big Mac, Large Fries and Diet Coke, “Because their dieting.”
3. Wheat Bread. Wheat bread is better than white bread right? Wrong. It is just as bad as white bread. The wheat flour used in regular wheat bread is just as processed, and therefore as easily converted to simple sugars, as the white flour. Whole grain oat bread is a much better substitute when bread is needed. As a matter of fact, whole grain oats are a good substitute in all grain foods, such as cereals.
4. Honey. Honey, pass on the honey. Just because something is natural does not always make it better. Some people have been falsely led to believe that honey is a better alternative to sugar. Since it is natural, they believe that it is somehow a healthier substitute. It is still sugar. It will still cause blood sugar levels to go haywire. With no fiber to slow the absorption, you might as well be eating straight sugar.
5. Low-fat=Healthy. If a food is labeled low-fat or fat-free is it really healthy? Maybe not. Many low-fat and fat-free foods add copious amounts of sugar to improve the flavor, thereby increasing the calorie count. The added sugar will also cause spikes in blood sugar, causing spikes in insulin, and a faster shuttle of energy into fat stores. Read labels carefully, and look at ingredients. If sugar (in any of its forms) is near the top of the ingredient list, pass on the low-fat. Sometimes the regular fat version is a healthier choice in the long run.