Myth Busting - including ... dietitians dont eat .... we were females before Dietitians.... so Dietitians do experience food feelings too
Myth Busting 101
Myth 1: Butter is better than margarine (margarine is one molecule away from being plastic!)
This claim has been circulating on the internet since at least 2003. Plastic is a polymer, made up of a long chain of repeated smaller molecules. Plastics are usually made from crude oil and natural gas, but can be made from natural materials such as wood, corn, plants, and even sugars. So whilst both plastic and margarine can be made from vegetable oil that is where any similarity ends. The claim doesn’t make sense - adding one molecule to margarine won't turn it into plastic. Many natural substances are very similar in chemical composition but very different in appearance and effect. One molecule, and more importantly how the molecules are arranged, makes a huge difference to the end product. Take for example the difference between hydrogen peroxide (bleach) and water, which have only one atom difference!
Replacing saturated fat with unsaturated fats helps reduce your risk of heart attack and stroke and one of the main ways to do this is replacing butter with margarine and healthy oils.
Myth 2: Coconut oil triumphs over all other oils
Recently coconut oil is all the rage and I’ve seen claims its great for everything from dermatitis to heart disease and people are using it left right and center on their skin, hair and abundantly in their food.
Coconut oil is made up of 92% saturated fat - this is even more than butter. Evidence shows a diet high in saturated fats tends increase the levels of LDL or bad cholesterol associated with heart disease. Advocates for coconut oil argue the saturated fats in the oil behave differently than usual saturated fats due to its shorter medium chain fatty acid structure and therefore isn’t harmful to our heart health.
The jury is still out on this one, and a review from the National Heart Foundation found that coconut oil does increase both our good (HDL) and bad (LDL) cholesterol levels. This overall increase in cholesterol in our system puts us at an increased risk of heart disease and although the good cholesterol is also raised it may not be functional. In addition to this coconut oil is also extremely energy dense and can contribute to weight gain.
Therefore – coconut oil isn’t “bad” however there is limited evidence to support its claims as a super food and that it does not influence our cardiovascular health. So use it sparingly in cooking, and where possible predominantly use olive oils and vegetable oils instead.
Myth 3: Eating for 2 is necessary during pregnancy.
The extra energy required by a mother during pregnancy is a lot less than we think. It is generally recommended that pregnant women should increase their daily intake by 100 kcal in the first trimester and 300 kcal in the second and third trimesters. This would equate to a banana before bedtime (100kcal) or an extra daily snack of Yoghurt and muesli, or 2 weetbix with milk (300kcal). Yes we need more nutrients such as iron, and iodine whilst pregnant, however most women are recommended to take a multivitamin supplement daily. A growing baby does not need a daily bowl of ice-cream or mars bars!
Myth 4: Carbs are bad for you
“Cutting out carbs” is often what I hear when people decide they want to lose weight. Carbs are not bad for us and may not be the biggest cause of our weight gain! Carbs come in many different forms and foods from milk, fruit, veg, breads, cereals, pasta, rice, muesli bars, chips, chocolates, biscuits, pastries, cakes to soft drinks! As you can see if you wanted to cut out carbohydrates completely it would become very difficult!
Carbohydrates are our body’s first choice of fuel and are preferred by the brain than any other nutrient for energy. Without carbs we become tired, lethargic, cranky and find it very difficult to function and we then often have huge cravings for the sweet treats.
Cutting carbs is not the answer for weight loss. Carbohydrates contain 16kj of energy per gram, whereas fat contains 37kj per gram and even alcohol 29kj per gram. In reality you can eat twice the amount of carbs per gram than fats to get the same amount of energy. Now this doesn’t mean we cut fats out either.
Instead we need to be cautious of our portion sizes, and choose Low GI and nutrient dense Carbohydrate foods. A serve of carbs might look like a slice of multigrain bread, bread, a piece of fruit, 2 weetbix, ¾ cup of wholegrain cereal, 1/3 cup cooked rice or pasta, ½ cup cooked oats, 1 medium potato.
These types of carbs included at each meal and snack with a small amount of protein will encourage your weight loss! And as for fats the same principal applies, choose healthy mono or poly unsaturated fat containing foods and be mindful of the portion sizes.
Myth 5: Dietitians never eat “Junk food”
Dietitians can be seen as a “food nazi” – someone who is going to tell you that you can’t eat anything except fruit and vegetables and are going to suck all the enjoyment out of your eating habits. This is NOT true! First and foremost Nic and I are human females before we are dietitians. This means we deal with the same cravings, enjoy chocolate as much as anyone else, and are exposed to the same social and environmental pressures around food choices. Because we have a great knowledge of food, nutrients and the body we are able to make food choices that enable us to enjoy treats in moderation, and maintain our health and weight.
We understand that individuals need to be able to make small lifestyle changes that maintains a love for food but also improves your health and wellbeing. We do not tell people all they can eat is fruit and vegetables!
Being able to choose a healthy diet that is balanced with the nutrients we need but also allows room for cake on your birthday and a drink over the weekend, takes practice, knowledge of food and portion sizes, trial and error and includes regular exercise.
A dietitian can help you to be able to get the most out of life and improve your eating habits giving you to tools and skills to last a lifetime :)