NEW PRAGUE, Minn. — Much information exists regarding nutrition. But the problem is a lot of that information is inaccurate. Allie Wergin, registered dietitian nutritionist at Mayo Clinic Health System, debunks a few common myths to help you feel more confident about your food choices.
- Eating healthy is too expensive
It may take some planning and time in the kitchen, but eating healthy on a budget is possible. Some helpful hints include:
- Shop sales, and clip coupons
- Stick to your grocery list
- Don’t go to the store hungry
- Stock up on staples — such as brown rice, whole-wheat pasta, dried beans and lentils, and frozen vegetables — when on sale
- Look high and low for better deals as many expensive items are placed at eye level
- Avoid pre-washed, pre-cut, individual servings of produce as they are often more expensive
- Everyone should follow a gluten-free diet
Unless you have celiac disease or gluten intolerance, there’s no reason to avoid gluten, which is the protein found in wheat, barley and rye. Wheat and products made from other whole grains have great nutritional benefits, including essential B vitamins and fiber. Going gluten-free has been a recent diet trend. However, gluten-free-related weight loss is most likely a result of a very restrictive diet and no longer eating high-calorie junk foods.
- Skipping meals can help you lose weight
When you skip a meal, your metabolism slows down, so the food you eventually eat isn’t burned as efficiently. In addition to feeling sluggish, by the time the next meal comes around, it’s common to overeat due to a ravenous type of hunger. Your best bet is to eat consistent, healthy meals and/or snacks throughout the day.
- Eating fat will make you fat
The fat-free and low-fat diet trend is a thing of the past (80s and 90s, to be exact). Yet, some individuals are still scared of fat. This shouldn’t be the case as fat has beneficial functions like protecting our organs, maintaining cell membranes, promoting growth and development, and absorbing essential vitamins. Be aware that fats aren’t created equal. Choose heart-healthy unsaturated fats, such as olive and canola oil, nuts, nut butters and avocadoes over those that are high in saturated and trans fats, including fatty meats and high-fat dairy products.
- Avoid carbs if you want to lose weight
The low-carb diet was a trend in the 90s and 2000s. It gives carbohydrates — fruit and whole grains included — a bad reputation. Individuals who followed this diet had success with weight loss, but, then again, anytime anyone eliminates highly processed carbohydrates foods, such as chips, cookies, white bread and potatoes smothered in butter and gravy, would be expected to have the same results. Any diet or eating program that eliminates an entire food group gets a red flag from me as one is likely to miss out on vital nutrients.
- Certain foods, such as grapefruit, cayenne pepper or vinegar, can burn fat
Sorry, no foods burn fat, make you lose weight more quickly or increase your metabolism enough to have an effect on weight loss. Diets that focus on single foods, like those mentioned above, are very restrictive and lack nutrients the body needs. They’re also unsustainable, and any weight loss that may occur is a result of calorie restriction and will likely come back once you discontinue.
- Low-fat or fat-free products are healthier choices
Many products labeled low-fat or fat-free contain added sugar or sodium to help make up for the loss of flavor when removing or reducing fat. In addition, fat helps with satiety — making you feel fuller longer. Choosing a fat-free product to reduce calories can backfire as you may find yourself snacking soon after. Always look at the nutrition label when choosing between fat-free, low-fat and regular. And pay attention to sugar and sodium content.
Call 952-758-9355 to schedule an appointment.
Mayo Clinic Health System consists of clinics, hospitals and other facilities that serve the health care needs of people in more than 60 communities in Georgia, Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin. The community-based providers, paired with the resources and expertise of Mayo Clinic, enable patients in the region to receive the highest-quality health care close to home.