Myths and Misconceptions about Food

Are you confused with all the print ads, T.V. commercials and headlines in the newspapers and magazines about correct diet and food habits? Some of these myths are probably floating around because we are always looking for a magical solution to our needs. Other times it may be a result of wishful thinking and our demand for quick answers. But in our readiness to swallow cleverly packaged illusions – media hype and testimonials – aren’t we fooling ourselves?

Take a look at some common myths and let us separate them from facts.

The most important step in weight loss is to eliminate fat from your diet.

Fats tend to be blamed for weight increase and are always on the taboo list of people on diets. But the truth is that a high-fat diet is as harmful as a no-fat diet.
A downside to losing weight by eliminating all fats and increasing energy expenditure by way of exercise is the depletion of energy from the body.

Why are fats essential?
They provide the body with energy and are needed to maintain healthy skin and hair. They are also responsible for transportation of crucial fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. In addition, some essential fatty acids are required for manufacturing certain hormones.

Fat consumption should be kept to a minimum if your goal is to lose weight. Good fats are monosaturated fats such as olive oil and polysaturated fats found in nuts, seed oils and fish. Nuts contain healthy fats and, when consumed in small quantities, reduce blood cholesterol and protect the heart against disease.

If your weight is hereditary, it does not matter what you eat, your weight simply wont budge.
It is true that genes do a play a part in your body shape and weight.
But you just cannot sit back and say, “Well, my parents are overweight, and I have their genes, so I accept the fact that I am overweight, too.”
Though you may not be as thin or petite as the fashion model who walks down the ramp; you can still be the in the best possible shape, given your body and framework. It is therefore, important to study your metabolism and body built; and then incorporate changes in food and exercise to achieve a weight that is ideal for you.

When all diets fail, there is always the cabbage soup diet.
Or the watermelon diet. Or the all-protein diet. Or the no-carbohydrates diet.
Or the juice diet.

What is the main problem with these diets?
They are difficult to sustain. Also, when you eventually go off these diets you can gain more weight then you lost. This yo-yo-ing of weight places too much strain on the digestive system and in the long run is considered harmful for health.
Although these types of “fad diets” help you lose weight, an important aspect that is often overlooked is the lack of nutrients and minerals that are consumed. On a conducted survey of 29,000 weight loss claims and theories, it was found that only 6 percent were effective and that most of them were downright dangerous.

The key to safe and successful way to weight loss is the time-tested advice of eating low caloric foods, which provide balance, variety and nourishment to the body.

Losing weight means eliminating certain food groups.
Today many diets eliminate certain food groups or focus on eating primarily one or two food groups. Your body needs a balanced diet that supplies you with diverse nutrients to keep you fit and energized. The body requires water, vitamins, proteins, carbohydrates, fats, minerals, fibre and oxygen for its maintenance, nourishment and repair. Eating a wholesome diet that includes fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, sprouts, seeds and low fat dairy products will build your immune system, helping you build health and achieve your goals sensibly.

Your ideal body weight is the weight that makes you look thin.
Healthy eating does not mean starving yourself to look thin. It also doesn’t mean striving for the super-thin look of some celebrities. Your ideal body weight depends on many factors including your lifestyle habits, energy levels, height, age, sex, and genes. And though, excess body fat increases chances of disease such as blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, being too thin also causes health problems such as osteoporosis and menstrual irregularities. To be healthy you need to eat right and exercise regularly and then find the ideal weight suited to you.

Skipping meals is a good way to lose weight.
It is essential to eat regular meals. Skipping meals is a sure way to develop irregular eating habits and thereby slip into unhealthy dietary patterns. This too can lower the body’s metabolism and bring about a feeling of “out-of-control” hunger, often resulting in overeating. When you are very hungry, it is also easy to forget about nutrition. On the other hand planned food intake and eating at regular intervals helps you to stick to your diet and get desired results.

Eliminate pleasure foods from your diet. They are the cause of unhealthy food patterns.
Reduce, don’t eliminate pleasure foods. Eating is for pleasure as well as for nutrition. If your favourite foods are high in fat or sugar, eat these foods in small or moderate quantities and also consume them less frequently. Eliminating them only increases your cravings leaving you feeling deprived and unsatisfied.

For example, if you like fried chicken or dessert, share it with a friend or eat half the portion. Eat this food slowly and relish each bite. Once you have satisfied your taste buds, discipline your mind to know that you’ve eaten enough.

Revamp your eating habits completely; that is the only way to succeed in any food-related, weight loss or weight gain goals.
Make changes gradually. There are no “super food” or “easy answers” to a healthy diet. Don’t expect to totally revamp your eating habits overnight. Changing too much, too fast, too soon, can get in the way of success. Begin remedying excesses or deficiencies with modest changes. Over time, develop positive, life-long eating habits.

For example, if the taste of cottage cheese is what you like, make it from low-fat milk. Or if you find eating sufficient fruits difficult, make yourself a fruit smoothie. Always look for ways to include foods that are necessary for you so that they become easy to incorporate into your eating plan.

“Bad” foods eaten should make you feel guilty. They cause diet pitfalls and weight gain.
No foods are “good” or “bad”. Foods should be selected keeping in mind your dietary habits, activity level and lifestyle. Don’t feel guilty if your favourite foods are high caloric, such as, apple pie, potato chips or candy bars. You may eat them occasionally, and then select other foods to provide the balance and variety required for good health. If you indulge in one meal, cut back on the next. Your food choices should fit together into an overall healthy pattern.

Also analyze your diet pitfalls. To formulate a healthy diet, first assess your weaknesses and present eating habits. Write down everything you eat for a few days, to know your current eating pattern. Then ask yourself necessary questions.

Are you adding lots of butter, creamy sauces or salad dressings to your food?

Are you eating enough of fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, seeds and sprouts?

Are you eating at regular intervals?

Do you tend to binge-eat?

Once you’ve established changes you need to make, figure out how you can effectively incorporate them. Changes should be those you can handle, so that you are able to stick to them.

Healthy foods are boring.
Healthy foods are never boring! Today, there are a number of health stores, health books and recipes available to make eating healthy a pleasure. Experiment with a variety of different foods and methods of cooking. Be innovative. Learn to be creative. At mealtimes make sure your meals both look and taste appetizing. It’s up to you to make the effort - and then you will never say the word “boring” again.

If your metabolism starts to slow down, there is nothing you can do about it.
It is possible to increase your metabolism. To boost your metabolism rate it is important to incorporate certain changes in your diet and exercise habits.

Here are some to do this.
• Eat five small meals, instead of three large meals.
• Eat plenty of fibre-rich foods, such as fruits and vegetables.
• Drink 8 to 10 glasses of water a day.
• Don’t overcook food. Steam your vegetables instead of boiling them.
• Cut down on processed, packaged and refined foods.
• Exercise regularly. Vary your workouts. Do weight training or weight bearing exercises at least twice a week.

“Going vegetarian” means you are sure to lose weight and be healthy.
Vegetarian diets can provide recommended key nutrients and also help you lose weight. But not all vegetarians are healthy. If the diet consists primarily of fried foods, sweets, processed foods and refined foods, it can cause weight gain and ill health. In order to be healthy, diets have to be carefully planned to ensure that they comprise of sufficient nutrition.

Extra protein promotes muscle growth.
Your body needs 30 grams of protein each day. Protein promotes muscle growth; however, extra protein is stored as fat. The best way to build muscles is to incorporate a strength-training regimen and to follow a balanced meal plan.

The right quantity of protein is necessary for the body. It builds and maintains muscles, strengthens the cells of the immune system, synthesizes hormones and enzymes and helps to make blood cells.

Eating at restaurants means sabotaging your diet.
Eating at restaurants need not sabotage your diet. Just try to make better food choices when you order your food. Follow these simple guidelines to ensure that you are still on track.
• Ask for foods to be steamed, baked or grilled rather than fried or cooked in a rich sauce.

• Avoid creamy or buttery sauces.

• Avoid the breadbasket.

• Make sure your vegetables contain very little oil or butter.

• Choose fruit salad or sorbet for dessert.

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