by Hilton Head Health Registered Dietitian, Felicia Hackett
“What is good for me and what is not? How many calories does this have? I heard this and my friend told me that. I saw on TV that…”
Nutrition confusion is common. We are bombarded with clever nutrient marketing. When we are unable to make sense of it we tend to turn to our old habits, habits that are not conducive to our health and lowering our risk for chronic diseases like Type 2 Diabetes, Cardiovascular disease, and Cancer. Keep reading to demystify some common nutrition pitfalls.
Bananas give you belly fat.
A diet rich in fruits and vegetables is beneficial for weight loss and maintenance. Considering the highly packaged, processed food culture we live in, villainizing a piece of fruit is not logical. Foods that are packed with added sugar, salt, and fat are what create more belly fat than a banana. A 6” banana is packed with nutrients, providing not only fiber but a good source of potassium and Vitamin C.
One key recommendation from the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for a healthy eating pattern includes incorporating a variety of fruits, especially whole fruits. Bottom line is that if you like bananas, eat bananas
Vegetarian and Vegan diets lack adequate amounts of protein.
When we think protein we tend to think of animal sources- meat, yogurt, and cheese. There are many other foods that provide an abundance of protein. The 68th UN General Assembly declared 2016 the International Year of Pulses. What are pulses? Pulses are crops like legumes, peas, beans, and chickpeas. Not only are they a good source of protein but they pack a punch with fiber. For example, a 1/2 cup of kidney beans packs 8g of protein and 6g of fiber. Other benefits of increasing pulse intake are that they are economically accessible and fosters sustainable agriculture. So, yes! Vegetarians and vegans eat adequate amounts of protein plus reap all the additional benefits of food cost and helping the earth.
Juicing is great!
Juicing is not a long term solution for maintaining weight loss. You may be getting vitamins and phytochemicals in your juice but you are lacking fiber. Fiber is beneficial for GI health, lowering LDL cholesterol and on top of that has anti-inflammatory effects. Juicing makes you miss out on an important part of our diet. If you do like drinking your fruits and vegetables, try a blender so that you are getting all the benefits of the whole food.
Back to the Basics
Get back to basics in 2016 and focus on foods like vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, seeds, legumes, and beans. Build your nutrition not on nutrients but on the colorful foods you see in the produce section. Focus first on eating plant-based foods and by default you will increase your fiber intake while decreasing added sugar, saturated fat, and sodium. Set an intention to make each and every eating occasion count. It does not take long before your body starts reacting positively to the changes you make. You may not be seeing it on the scale right away but internally your body is going to be thanking you.