Nutrition Fact or Fad?

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1 Nutrition Fact or Fad? 1. Eating past 8:00pm will make you gain weight. FAD. Eating past a certain time will not make you gain weight. Your body needs fuel throughout the day to keep you energized and able to focus, just like your car needs gas to run. If your car was low on gas, you would stop and get gas regardless of the time. Whether it was noon, 6:00pm, midnight, or 2:00am it would not matter- you would stop, get gas, and probably not give it a second thought. The same is true with your body. Your body needs fuel throughout the day and it is normal to be hungry every 2-4 hours. Regardless of the time, if you are hungry, it is important to get something to eat. Eating past a certain, arbitrary time point will not make you gain weight, however overeating (regardless of what time it occurs) can eventually lead to weight gain. 2. Eating carbohydrates will lead to weight gain. FAD. Overeating carbohydrates (or any food) can lead to weight gain, but eating carbohydrates as part of a normal diet will not automatically cause you to gain weight. In reality, carbohydrates are an essential nutrient and the USDA recommends that 45-65% of calories come from carbohydrates. This is equal to about servings of carbohydrates (including grains, fruits, starchy vegetables, and dairy) per day. Carbohydrates are essential for your body to function properly and are the preferred source of fuel for your body. In fact, your brain and your central nervous system cells rely on carbohydrates for energy. In addition, carbohydrates are protein sparing, meaning that by eating adequate carbohydrates you prevent the use of protein to meet energy needs, thereby sparing muscle tissue. Carbohydrates also regulate blood glucose levels, provide fiber that protects against cancer and heart disease, contributes to feelings of fullness, provide a host of vitamins and minerals, and prevent constipation. Good sources of carbohydrates include fruits, some vegetables, dairy, grains, and cereals. 3. Protein should be the primary staple of your diet. FAD. Per the USDA, the recommended intake of protein is only 10-35% of total calories. It is important to know that eating excessive protein will not result in muscle development, and overeating protein (or any food) can lead to weight gain. In reality, eating excessive protein can be harmful on the liver, elevate blood lipids and increase

2 risk for heart disease. On the other hand, eating too little protein limits the amount of protein your body can use for daily cell function and muscle building. Proteins are the basic building blocks for the human body and help build muscles, blood, skin, hair, nails, and internal organs. Proteins provide valuable enzymes that help regulate body function, transport nutrients, oxygen, and waste throughout your body, provide the structure and contracting capability of muscles, serves as a major component to tissues of the skin, hair, and nails. Good sources of protein include meat, poultry, fish, dairy products, eggs, and vegetable protein as legumes, seeds, and nuts. such 4. Skipping meals will help you lose weight. FAD. Skipping meals can lower your metabolism and set you up to over eat later in the day. It is normal to be hungry every two to four hours which translates into 3 meals per day with snacks in between. According to research eating frequently throughout the day is ideal for metabolism and will help to maintain your energy levels. In addition, eating this frequently prevents excessive hunger that can lead to overeating for some people. For many people, excessive hunger drives over eating. Skipping meals primes you for excessive hunger, which in turn can result in overeating later in the day. Instead, eating small, frequent portions can help moderate your intake, keep you energized, moderate blood sugar levels, and help with weight management. 5. You can skip meals to save up calories for later. FAD. Unfortunately, our body just does not work this way. You cannot skip up meals to save calories for later. As mentioned previously, skipping meals can lower your metabolism and set you up to over eat later in the day. Skipping meals primes you to be over hungry, which can result in over eating for some people. According to research, this mentality sets you up to eat more food/calories than if you had spread your intake throughout the day. Instead, eating small, frequent portions can help moderate your intake, keep you energized, moderate blood sugar levels, and help with weight management. 6. You can skip meals to save calories for Alcohol. FAD. Skipping meals to save calories for alcohol or to save money for drinking, is simply a bad idea and can be extremely dangerous. Engaging in risky drinking patterns (including skipping meals prior to drinking) increases your risk for STDs, HIV, drunk driving, alcohol poisoning, injury, violence, and perpetrating or being a victim of sexual assault. In the short term, not eating can cause your blood sugar levels to drop

3 increasing the risk that you might pass out, and in the long term can result in malnutrition, heart problems, and cognitive disabilities (including difficulty concentrating, studying, and making decisions). This combination of skipping meals prior to drinking also puts you at increased risk for seizures, comas, hospitalization, organ failure, and death. 7. Eating fat makes you fat. FAD. Eating fat will not make you fat, and eating dietary fat does not translate into fat on your body. Overeating any food item can lead to weight gain, but just because you eat fat does not mean that you will become fat. In fact, the USDA recommends that 20-35% of calories come from fat. That means, on a low fat diet, 20% of your calories would still come from fat. Fat is an essential nutrient, and when it was originally discovered it was called vitamin F because of its importance. Fat has many functions in your body, it is a stored source of energy, it cushions your vital organs, it is a major component of the cell membrane, it provides essential fatty acids, it carries fat soluble vitamins, it forms a sheath on your nerves that aids in nerve conduction, it provides satiety, and it protects against temperature extremes. Good sources of fat include nuts, avocado, olive oil, canola oil, butter, margarine, salad dressings, cheese, and milk. 8. It s best to eat at the same time every day. FAD. There is no need to stress about eating at specific times or about following a specific schedule. Instead, learn to listen to your body. Eat when you are moderatelylightly hungry and stop when you are comfortably full (before you are stuffed or uncomfortable.) Only your body can let you know what you are hungry for and how much you need. External factors such as the clock, a diet, or other food rules only serve to disconnect you from your body, which in the long run can actually drive overeating. Instead of waiting for the clock to hit a certain time to let you know if you can eat, try tuning into your body to nice if you are hungry. Eating small, frequent portions, when you are hungry, can help to moderate your intake and can help prevent overeating for some people. Eating this way can help to keep you energized and will help to maintain your focus and concentration. 9. When you blow your diet, you might as well wait until the next day to get back on track. FAD. Should you blow your diet there is no need to wait until the next day to get back on track. This mentality frequently leads to over eating and can cause weight gain.

4 Instead, if you feel that you have gotten off track, acknowledge what you have done and know that you have not blown your day or your diet. Overeating at one meal or snack will not cause weight gain. It is what you do consistently over time that matters. If you feel that you have blown your diet at one meal or snack, don t stress, just try to eat normally at your next meal or snack (or for the rest of the day). An all or nothing mentality with your diet can sabotage your health and weight loss efforts. 10. Healthy Eating consists of a diet that includes a wide variety of food, not just foods deemed as healthy. FACT. Eating only healthy food is not the same thing as a healthy eating. Healthy foods are foods that promote health when consumed while healthy eating also considers your relationship with food. If you listed healthy foods your list might include whole grains, lean meats, fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats. If you ate a diet that consisted only of these foods, you might be eating a lot of healthy foods, but that does not necessarily mean that you are following a healthy diet. Healthy eating, or a healthy diet, does not mean that you must eat 100% healthy foods. According to the USDA, even sweets and desserts can fit into a healthy diet. In fact, healthy eating looks more at the bigger picture related to what you eat, the frequency, the amount you had, and your psychological state while eating. Some questions you can ask yourself to assess your diet include: Do you leave out entire food groups? Do you find yourself eating the same thing every day? Do you eat when you are not hungry? Do you skip meals? Do you eat past the point of comfortable fullness? Do you eat differently when you are by yourself? Do you use the clock to let you know when it is time to eat? Do you eat when you are sad, lonely, angry, or stressed? Do you feel guilty after eating? The more questions you answered yes to, the more you may need to spend time focusing on your relationship with food rather than just eating healthy food. 11. Only people with celiac s disease need to follow a gluten free diet. FACT. Gluten is a protein found in wheat and only individuals with intolerance to this protein need to follow a gluten free diet. For individuals with celiac s disease avoiding gluten can prevent serious, life threatening complications. Going gluten free for the sake of going gluten free (unrelated to a medical condition) or to lose weight does not mean that you are following a healthier diet. In fact, by eliminating gluten you could increase your risk for nutritional deficiency. B vitamins and Iron are often enriched in products containing gluten and their gluten free alternatives are not. This means that over time it is possible to develop a deficiency, which in turn would decrease your energy levels, and result in a diet that is less healthy overall. In addition, many gluten

5 free products are lower in fiber and constipation is frequently a side effect of following a gluten free diet. 12. Following the raw food diet, paleo diet, or any other type of diet increases your overall health. FAD. Following a strict and rigid diet does not increase your overall health. In fact, any diet that eliminates entire food groups increases your risk of nutrient deficiency. Diets that limit foods or food groups that you can eat often make it difficult to meet your body s nutrition needs. This typically results in decreased energy, poor concentration, fatigue, difficulty sleeping, increased frequency of thoughts about food, decreased exercise performance, and increased risk for eating disorder behaviors. In fact, dieting is the number one risk factor for developing an eating disorder. Just because you are following a strict diet or because you are only eating healthy foods, does not mean that you are following a healthy diet that will increase your overall health. (See healthy foods vs healthy eating.) 13. Eating disorders are uncommon. FAD. Eating disorders are more common than you think. Anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge eating disorder are on the rise in the United States and worldwide. 10 million women and one million men are currently facing a life or death battle with an eating disorder. Among U.S. females in their 20s, the presence of clinical and subclinical anorexia may be as high as 15%. Recent studies suggest that 7% of U.S. females have had bulimia at some time in their live. It is also estimated that 5% of the U.S. population has undiagnosed bulimia, and current findings suggest that binge eating disorder affects up to 4% of the population. 14. Eating disorders are a choice. FAD. Eating disorders are not a choice. Nobody chooses to have an eating disorder. They develop over time and require the appropriate treatment to address complex medical, nutritional, and psychological issues. For that reason, many people with an eating disorder cannot just simply choose to be well or to just snap out of it. Eating disorders are serious, life threatening conditions and it can take years for an individual to achieve recovery. 15. Throwing up or abusing laxatives will help you lose weight. FAD. These behaviors will not help you lose weight. These behaviors are dangerous and can lead to a serious medical emergency or death. These behaviors do not result in ridding your body of ingested food, and again, they do not result in weight loss. In fact,

6 your body is still able to absorb nutrients and half of what you consume typically remains in your body. Laxatives only result in weight loss through fluid/water shifts (not calorie or food elimination) and the effect is temporary. In addition, these behaviors actually increase your drive to eat often resulting in over eating and feeling out of control with food. If you, or someone you care about, engages in these behaviors seek support from the counseling center on campus or with another professional who specializes in eating disorders.

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