There’s so much information out there about our diet and nutrition that it often leaves us confused and wondering what is really good or bad for our health. With all the misunderstanding and exaggerated health claims, you could be easily fooled. When I met celebrity nutritionist Pooja Makhija, at the launch of Saffola’s new multi-grain breakfast cereal, it seemed like a good opportunity to separate fact from fiction. These common myths may be driving your diet decisions in the wrong direction. Let’s clear all your doubts once and for all.
1. Carbs don’t make you fat.
A fact hard to swallow but it is true. Carbs don’t make you fat, wrong choices can. Let’s face it, you can’t live without carbs. You need them to give you energy through the day. Carbs should make up at least 60 per cent your daily meals. If you’re not eating enough carbs you will not be able to sustain the weight loss and eat more to make up for the lack of carbs.
2. There’s no such thing as a sweet tooth.
Here’s the real deal, calorie deficits make you crave sugar because you haven’t eaten sufficiently. Eat the right foods at the right time, so you don’t crave the wrong foods at the wrong time. It’s easy to understand – you haven’t eaten carbs for lunch and so you’re tempted to finish that bar of chocolate after your incomplete meal. Make your meals more wholesome and balanced to avoid cravings.
3. Kale is the not the greenest green and Quiona is not the healthiest grain.
Food doesn’t have to be fancy or have some super qualities to provide nutrition. Superfoods and antioxidants are like the cherry on the cake but your daily nutrition should come from your staples. The thumb rule is to stick to basics, eat what is easily available around you and eat what we’ve been eating for generations. If you have access to fresh blueberries and kale, you should eat them but don’t substitute them for your local, seasonal fruits and greens.
4. Dieting does not mean deprivation.
There are five fingers to nutrition. The most important are your carbs, then come proteins, fats and finally vitamins and minerals. Within these food groups, you can make smart choices about the grains, cooking oil, fruits and vegetables you eat daily. When it comes to dieting and weight loss, follow a diet that is sustainable. You should never deprive yourself of any of these nutrients. There has to be a balance between carbs and proteins always. Don’t tilt one way to the other. Swaying towards one nutrient and completely avoiding the other is the worst kind of diet to follow.
5. You don’t really need a detox diet.
This is one of the biggest lies standing between you and a healthy lifestyle. Your body runs on a beautiful mechanism that knows how to detox by itself. It removes all the toxins as urine or fecal matter daily. You breathe out carbon-di-oxide, it’s a way to detox. A short-term fix cannot counteract the effects of the junk you’ve been eating all year round. It can do more harm than good by draining your body of fluids along with some vital nutrients and messing with your metabolism. If you eat right always, your body will detox naturally every day.
6. Fruits can be eaten anytime of the day.
There’s no time for good nutrition. You can have fruits on an empty stomach, before or after a meal and even start your day with them. Your digestive system is always prepared to absorb the nutrients from fruits whenever you decide to eat them. Just avoid having anything right before bed time as it can interfere with sound sleep. If you are looking to lose weight, it can help to eat fruits before your meal as the fibre and water will fill you up and thus, preventing binge eating.
7. Skipping breakfast is foolish but eating the wrong foods is worse.
Never start your day with a sugar loaded meal or a cup of caffeine. Your breakfast menu does not need to have only the conventional foods. You want it to be fresh; you want it to be easy. You could wake up in the morning and make yourself a five-grain parantha one day and upma or poha the next day. It’s absolutely alright to have a heavier meal for breakfast and carry a light sandwich or cereal for lunch. The idea is to get wholesome nutrition and have foods that will keep you fuller for longer.
8. Bed tea is a taboo.
While talking about good morning habits, Pooja emphasizes on never starting your day with caffeine – be it coffee or tea. Caffeine should not be the first thing that you give your body on an empty stomach. You need to line your stomach with some solids before you take caffeine else it may trigger the stomach acids and wreck havoc with your digestion through the day. Pick up that glass of fresh juice or even better a bowl of fruits or simply sip some warm water to kick-start your system.
9. Finally, eat to lose weight.
I have been waiting for someone to say this aloud. You need to eat and eat right to lose weight. Eating small meals throughout the day keeps your metabolism stable and supports the calorie burning process. Instead of having few large meals, the better way to burn fat is to fuel your body frequently and give it adequate nutrition. There’s no shortcut to fight fat.