Nutrition: between myth and reality

Learning to love and accept your body is an important thing! (Photo:pixabay.com)

Much of what is talked about in the media or among friends as regards eating habits, and most especially healthy eating habits, often turns out to be half truths, or plain untruths. In fact, such myths about “healthy” or “slimming”food often bring the opposite results. In some cases, eating strategies described in many nutrition blogs may lead to eating frenzies or to nutritional deficiencies. Recent studies and empirical knowledge inform us about what normal eating habits consist of and help us tell truth from the lies.

Myth: Fat will make you fat! Best is to renounce entirely on fat! Margarine is healthier than butter!

Reality: Fat is an essential part of nutrition. It contains nutrients that are not provided by any other type of food. Fat-free or low-fat foods not only are not tasty, but also do not provide you with a feeling of satiety. Without fat, you may feel like you are running on low energy, you are tired and often ill. Your immune system is weak. Not only may you feel old, but you also look old: the metabolism is reduced, wounds do not heal properly and your skin looks pale and without a glow.

Because fat is a part of hormone production, a fat-free diet may also influence your sexuality, impacting your sexual drive. Fat is also involved in hormone and cell walls production and provide you with fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, K). A good source of high-quality animal fat is fat-rich fish such as salmon and mackerel.

Myth: Olive oil is better than any other oil.

Reality: yes and no – olive oil is very good, but other oils such as sunflower, safflower, canola are equally good. Canola oil also has the advantage of being neutral in taste and of containing a high quantity of omega-3 fatty acids and only a small quantity of saturated fatty acids (so-called “bad fats”).

Myth: Margarine is better because it originates from vegetal substances.

Reality: Margarine is synthetically produced, and does not contain fewer calories than butter. Saturated fatty acids, considered unhealthy, are created during fat hardening processes.

Myth: Protein – one can eat so many proteins as one wishes! By eating only meat, it is easier to loose weight or to not put one weight at all.

Reality: Proteins ensure that more hormones responsible for a sense of satiety are released, so that satiety is reached faster. Also, consuming fewer carbohydrates will stimulate the burning of fat. But beware! By renouncing on fruits and vegetables, which contain carbohydrates in the form of sugars and starches, the body will not be provided with vitamins and minerals in sufficient quantities. Also, because the kidneys cannot utilise a surplus of proteins, a too high intake of proteins can favour the emergence of kidney stones or of bone illnesses.

Myth: Eggs are unhealthy!

Reality: Eggs are a source of high-quality protein and of fat-soluble vitamins. Although they contain cholesterol, the lecithin present in the yolk helps reduce the cholesterol.

Myth: Carbohydrates are a no-go!

Reality: One portion of cooked potatoes contain 105 calories, one portion of noodles twice as much. Putting on weight happens when one constantly eats large quantities of food, or adds rich sauces to the meals.

Carbohydrates are for the body what gas is for cars. Nothing is possible without fuel! When the body is not given any carbohydrate, it will take the energy elsewhere and weaken the muscles for getting to it.

Myth: Fruits and vegetables as often as possible, at least 5 times a day! And raw is even better!

Reality: Raw food is healthy and is part of a well-balanced diet. However our digestive enzymes cannot break up all the plant cell walls. For example, the organism cannot utilize the beta-carotene contained in carrots if the carrots are eaten raw. Often, our digestive system is burdened by a too large quantity of fruits and vegetables. This can lead to flatulence and a tight stomach. Two handfuls of fruits, vegetables and salad each day should be sufficient.

Myth: sugar is addictive!

Reality: sweets may not be essential to human life, but they do provide us with a feeling of wellbeing. Sugar itself does not make us addicted, but a wrong education based on a system of rewards with sweets can influence us. It is true that sugar intake can make the blood sugar level fluctuate, which can trigger food cravings and performance fluctuations. In one word, sugar is allowed, but with care and awareness.

Myth: Dark bread is better than white bread

Reality: Dark bread is often only coloured with malt. Only bread made with whole grain is healthier.

Myth: Sugar can be replaced with sweetener, as it doesn’t contain any calories.

Reality: Sweeteners may be free of calories, but can trigger food cravings. A study carried out by San Antonio University, Texas, showed that sweeteners could lead to weight increase over time.

Text: Arbeitsgemeinschaft Ess-Störungen (Resource centre for eating disorders)
Translation: MyH – 05/2017