Food and nutrition myths

The time is 9:30pm and you’re exhausted. After sitting with your report for the last week, you’re in the last stretch. As you type out your conclusion and feel a sense of relief wash over you, you suddenly hear a slow growl coming from your stomach. You remember you only had a small snack for supper because you wanted to finish your assignment as soon as possible.  What now? You know that eating at night makes you pick up weight.

This myth came about with the thinking that when you go to bed, your metabolism stops working and you pick up weight, because all that food you’ve just eaten won’t burn(as you aren’t active) but instead, turn into fat.

Dietitian Andy Bellatti calls this myth ‘a silly weight-loss gimmick’. He says that any food you take in will not transform into fat ‘magically’. Although the food will be digested slower, your metabolism doesn’t stop, and the processing of the food will continue in your sleep. What does count in determining your weight is what you eat throughout the entire day and how much you exercise. If you eat more calories than you burn, weight gain will occur.

Walking down the aisle of the supermarket, you look at the sachets of milk. Picking up the low fat option, you put it in your cart. As you carry on down the aisle, you proceed to grab the low fat margarine, yoghurt and cheese.  You think that this is definitely the healthiest option for you and your family. Everyone knows low-fat foods are always better for you

Nutritionist and wellness councillor, Alannah DiBona, says that this is a Number One food myth. ”Without fat, the human body is unable to absorb a large percentage of the nutrients needed to survive.” She said that a lack of fats prevents ‘messages from being passed between neurotransmitters’.

The correct amounts of good fats can actually help weight loss and cholesterol management. A way to ensure that you are taking in the right fat is by making the effort to read the labels on the foods you eat. Many ‘low fat’ foods turn out to be low in good fats, or exchange the fats with other unhealthy ingredients such as sugar and sodium.

As you eat that delicious piece of chocolate you’ve been craving all day, you let the wonderful dark delight melt in your mouth. You then wonder to yourself if this moment of pleasure is worth a sudden breakout of acne, since you’ve heard that eating chocolate causes acne.

Acne can affect people of all races and ages, and around three-quarters of 11 to 30-year-olds will experience acne at some time. It has also been observed that 50-year-olds still get acne.

According to dermatologist Dr Ava Shamban, “Chocolate per se will not make you break out.” She says that a high-sugar and high-fat diet can however promote inflammatory responses in the body.

Dr Margaret Parsons, a fellow of the American Academy of Dermatology, says that what has been proven to be known as causes of bad skin and breakouts include stress, hormones and genetics.

In fact: chocolate has been established to be beneficial to the cardiovascular system and the cocoa component of the treat contains chemicals which act as antioxidants.

Lisa Isaacs


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