Friday the 13th food fear?

by Dawn Smith-Pfeifer, NDFB Director of Content and Communications

In 2021, on a Friday the 13th in August, the licensed registered dietitian who writes a monthly blog post for NDFB’s consumer-facing food-related site called On Your Table wrote a post called Nutrition Superstition. Because I edit and maintain that site, I’m always looking for ways share the great content there. So, I’m using my editorial license to forgo writing an original post for My NDFB Life and sharing the content of Elizabeth Magee’s post about “scary” myths in the world of nutrition. Ahhh, the advantages of being the editor! 😉

by Elizabeth Magee, RD, LRD

Friday the 13th calls for some special nutrition superstition!! Let’s play! Here are a few of everyone’s favorite scary myths in the wonderful world of nutrition.

No eating past 6 p.m. (or 7, or 8). There is nothing magical about the time you stop eating; it will not make you magically lose weight. If you stopped eating at 6 p.m., and you did lose weight, was it the magic of the time, or was it that you typically overeat after 6 p.m.? I’m going with the second. If you eat mindlessly and endlessly at night, and now you stop eating at 6 p.m. are you cutting out a significant number of calories? Probably. So don’t think there’s anything special tied to the time you stop eating and weight loss. It’s just the old calories in vs calories out.

“Natural” sugar is healthy. Wrong, wrong, wrong. Sugar is sugar is sugar! 1 teaspoon of white table sugar has 16 calories; 1 tsp of honey is 22 calories; 1 tsp of agave nectar has 21 calories. No matter how you spin it, our bodies treat these the same. We start digesting them in our mouths and use them for energy. They are carbs that provide us with energy!

Which leads me to our next superstition: Carbs are bad and should be avoided. This one specifically drives me bonkers. Eliminating an entire food group is a giant red flag. We need about 130 grams of carbohydrates a day for our bodies to do what we want them to do. Not only do they provide energy, but they also provide our fine friend, fiber! Not to mention other things.

The Keto Diet is a great idea! It’s a great idea for a small amount of people. The Keto diet came about to help people with seizures, and it works for those people. It’s not meant for the majority of us to be on. It’s high in unhealthy fats and like I referenced earlier, it basically eliminates and entire food group – carbs. If following the keto diet accurately, 15 grams of carbs is the limit for the day. That’s equivalent to one slice of bread. It’s not okay to be on the keto diet long term, or at all, in my opinion.

I could keep going, but the moral of the story is that we need balanced diets to be healthy. Whether you’re trying to lose weight or not, the key is balance. There truly is room for all foods to fit. We have to make sure we’re getting what our bodies really need first. I’m a broken record, I know, but it’s the truth. It has been studied. It’s hard because the healthy choice isn’t always the easiest!! Just keep at it!

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People tend to think of dietitians as drill sergeants, ready to rip the food out of your hands. But Elizabeth is so not like that. You can count on her to provide wise and encouraging words rather than restrictive ones.

If you need another dose of encouragement, check out her On Your Table post for today, New year, new me? Not so much! Be sure to sign up for the newsletter that is sent once a month. It always features a link to Elizabeth’s post for that month, plus links to other fun and informative posts about food and the farmers and ranchers who grow and raise that food.

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