Busting the top 5 food myths

By Sarah Leung, Nutritionist and Dietitian

1. “LOW-FAT” OR “FATFREE” MEANS NO CALORIES AND ARE ALWAYS GOOD FOR YOU

Cholesterol and fats have gained negative attention from the media since the 1970s due to its association with weight gain, raised cholesterol levels and chronic diseases such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke and even some types of cancer. Since then, companies have flooded supermarkets with alternative options such as low fat yogurts, fat free cheeses, 97% fat free crackers etc. However, these deceiving products have not stopped the nation’s weight gain and show no real evidence for improved weight loss. This has lead us to believe that obesity is a complex issue and simply cutting out one single food group will not solve the many contributing factors that affect obesity. Instead, people need to address their current lifestyle, as a whole and consciously analyse their stress levels, activity levels, cooking style, portion sizes, and how often they choose to eat out.

So, let’s back to low fat! Yes, it is true that a lot of fat free or low fat foods contains more added sugar in order to make up for the taste but this is not the case all the time. For example, low fat milk usually do not contain added sugar (but will have naturally occurring sugar – lactose) and in fact, low fat milk actually contains higher protein then full cream milk. If you don’t eat much only have milk in cereal or having one coffee per day, using full cream milk is not too much of an issue. But to be able meet daily recommended calcium intake you need about 3 serves of dairy per day (take full cream milk as an example) and if you use full fat for all three serves on a daily basis, you will be having about 26g fat in which 17g is saturated fat compare to 3 cups of low fat milk which is 9.3g total fat in which 6.2g is saturated fat. This example apply to yoghurt, cream, cheese and ice cream.

What about low fat crackers? There are shelves of options of low fat crackers on the supermarket shelves but most of them are made from refined flour which means you are not getting the benefit of eating wholegrains which contains fibre, essential fatty acids such as Omega 3 and 6. Low fat crackers often doesn’t fill you up as refined flour are usually high in glycaemic index.

So, the verdict of whether low fat is better for you. the answer is it depends. Make sure you read the nutrition information panel and ingredients list to see if sugar is one of the top three ingredients and also look for whether the food will give you other nutritional benefits e.g high in protein, wholegrain and fibre.

2. EATING NO CARBS AT LUNCH OR DINNER IS THE BEST WAY TO LOSE WEIGHT

It is extremely common to be hungry around 3-4pm as our blood sugar levels tend to drop and we often find ourselves feeling hungry. This is more likely to occur when lunch did not consist of good quality nutrients and carbohydrates. This often leads people to over consume sugary treats to increase their energy levels and misleads people to believe they are addicted to sugar when in fact their body is lacking nutrient rich fuel.

To help maintain energy throughout the day and suppress hungry after lunch and dinner, it is very important to include some slow energy release or low GI carbohydrates as part of your meal e.g. wholemeal or high fibre pasta, sweet potato, potato cooked with skin on, quinoa, chickpea, noodle and brown rice. Just incorporate 1/4 of your plate with these carbohydrate will help sustain your energy level for longer.

3. BANANAS SHOULD BE AVOIDED BECAUSE THEY ARE FATTENING

One medium banana has 18.5g carbohydrate with that 15.5g is natural occurring sugar which is almost the same amount of carbohydrate and sugars in an medium apple.

Banana in facts offers twice as much protein, potassium and magnesium compare to an apple and its fat content is only 0.2g!!! Banana makes a perfect snack, great ingredient in a smoothie or even soft serve! Yes, you heard me, a soft serve. Simply freeze a banana then blend in a food processor along with some frozen berries, sprinkle with shaved almonds and makes a smooth soft serve.

If you want to learn more about how to lose weight healthily and have more energy, why not take up a complimentary session offered by Healthy Energy Dietitians. Book online today!

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4. 1200CAL IS THE MAGIC NUMBER FOR A DIET

People that are dieting have been lead to believe that through strict calorie control they are able to efficiently lose weight. Women in particular, seem to think that eating 1200 calories a day will achieve their desired weight loss goals. However, many people are not aware that 1200 calories a day is the bare minimum a women should consume. A lot of females have a resting metabolic rate or daily energy expenditure at rest of more than 1200 calories a day. Women that choose to go on very restricted calorie control diets sometimes have a hard time getting the nutrients their body needs. Even though you may find yourself losing weight your metabolic rate and your lean body mass may also begin to reduce – which is something you don’t want. Rather than using 1200cal as a guide which can be dangerous and harmful for health in the long run, calculate your energy requirement according to your height, weight and level of exercise and tailor an eating plan that matches your energy expenditure.

5. POTATOES SHOULD BE AVOIDED AT ALL COST

Like bananas, potatoes have gotten a lot of bad press over the years as it has been blame for weight loss. Potato is a starchy vegetables and it has been a staple food for many years. One potato (120g) as a whole food contains less than 100 calories with carbohydrate similar to a medium banana 15g, high in potassium and minimal fat. However, if the potato has been cooked with high fat cooking method like deep fry 120g of potato chips will contain 345 calories and 10 grams of fat. Another concern people have with potato is its high glycaemic index property. High glycaemic index means carbohydrates is break down quickly and enter the blood stream at a faster rate. As glycaemic index of a meal can be affected by it’s protein and fat content, by ensuring potato is cooked with the skin on and including lean protein and lots of vegetables in a meal as a whole, potatoes are definitely not a food that you need to avoid.

Some Potato Ideas For You: Use potatoes as the base of salads and simply add dill, hard boiled eggs, grated cucumber, roasted carrot, sprinkle of pine nuts and dress it up with seeded mustard, apple cider vinegar and olive oil.

Baked spud with dollop of Greek natural yoghurt, chopped up pineapple, four bean mix and chopped up parsley and spring onion.

You can find more articles like this in our summer 2016 issue e-magazine!
Click on the below image to download

Summer 2016 magazine cover