It seems every day you hear conflicting nutritional tips to help you lose weight.
Should you avoid all carbs? Is fruit too high in sugar? Are dairy foods unhealthy? Are all processed foods bad for you?
Here, I bust 4 nutritional myths to help you eat better and better manage your weight.
1 – Ditch carbohydrates
Carbohydrates are healthy fuel for the body if you eat the right type and amount. Healthy carbohydrates are in foods such as whole grains, vegetables, beans and lentils, low-fat yogurt and fruit. You may be struggling trying to entirely eliminate bread, pasta and rice from your diet. But you don’t have to!
Instead, I recommend you choose higher fiber, whole grain carbohydrates (e.g. oatmeal, whole wheat cereal, bread or tortillas, brown or wild rice or popcorn) instead of refined, white grains (e.g. white rice, pasta, breads, crackers, buns, rolls).
These higher fiber, whole grain foods can be good for your health but portion size matters.
For oatmeal, rice or pasta, ¾ cup cooked is considered a portion size. For foods that can’t be measured in a cup, aim to keep portions to 100 to 200 calories.
2 – Fruit has too much sugar
Diets with more plant based foods, like vegetables and fruits, are healthier diets.
Fruits are nutrition powerhouses rich in vitamins, minerals, fiber and disease-fighting phytochemicals and are generally low in calories. Most people are not eating enough fruits and vegetables.
Combining fruit with protein for planned snacks is a useful strategy. Examples include yogurt and berries, an apple and nut butter or a pear and string cheese.
Making substitutions when eating out by asking for fruit instead of hash brown potatoes or berries instead of a rich dessert can boost your health and help you better manage your weight.
3 – Stay away from dairy
Dairy products are a good source of calcium and protein and when you remove the fat, low fat dairy products can round out a healthy diet. Examples include fat-free or low-fat milk, yogurt, cheese or cottage cheese.
But remember just because protein is healthy, this doesn’t mean you need oversized portions at meals and snacks.
Reading labels is also recommended as some yogurts are loaded with added sugars. You want to choose yogurts with more protein (usually Greek yogurt) and less added sugars.
4 – All processed foods are bad for you
You may be surprised to know that many convenient, processed foods such as Greek yogurt, high-fiber breakfast cereals, frozen fruits and vegetables, meal-replacement bars and frozen meals can be healthful choices.
What’s not healthful is when too much sodium and sugar are added to the processing. That’s why it’s important to compare products and read labels to find the brands that offer more healthful options.
And remember, if one of your meals is higher in sodium or sugars, it will be helpful to round out your day with fresh foods that are lower in sodium and sugars.
Find healthy foods you enjoy and pay attention to portion sizes.
Enjoy your health!
Robert Kushner, MD