Posted on 03/14/2017 at 10:47 AM by YMCA of Greater Des Moines
March is National Nutrition Month, and we’re setting the record straight on a few myths about eating well. Have you fallen for some of these?
You don’t need to buy 100% organic miracle superfoods to support a healthy diet. You don’t even need to buy freshly picked goods (which are often more expensive). Generally, “the differences in nutrient levels between fresh and frozen are so minor that they would be unlikely to have an impact on overall health, and dietitians generally encourage people to eat as many fruits and vegetables as they can, in whatever form they enjoy,” The New York Times reports.
As for purchasing organic foods, in some cases “it may lower your exposure to chemicals and artificial ingredients,” WebMD explains. “In others, it may not be healthier than buying conventionally grown products.” Avocados, for example, have a thick skin and pesticides rarely reach the flesh. Strawberries, on the other hand, typically have high levels of pesticide residue.
Aside from your weekly grocery bill, think about the long-term costs of what goes in your grocery cart — like how much you may save on future medical bills and how your quality of life and time spent with loved ones will be affected.
Logically, you might think that since you consume less calories when you skip meals, you’ll lose weight — but you might actually be slowing down your metabolism and setting yourself up to gain weight. This doesn’t mean you should eat six large meals a day, but “eating small meals and snacks throughout the day with an emphasis on protein and fiber will help keep us satisfied, and keep the furnace burning all day long,” says Angel Planells of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Plus, skipping meals might make you scarf down more than you normally would at your next meal.
There’s still debate in the medical community on whether multivitamins and supplements are necessary or effective. Many professionals argue that if you don’t have a particular health condition or doctor’s orders, your vitamin-packed fruit gummy might not be doing much for your health or your wallet. “Indiscriminate use is, in most cases, probably useless and potentially harmful,” Scott Gavura of Science-Based Medicine argues. Dr. Howard Sesso of the Harvard School of Public Health, on the other hand, says there are “potential benefits” to taking a multivitamin and “no known risks at this time.”
So, who to believe? Chat with your doc, but as much as possible, rely on real food to get your nutrients — don’t use a pill to justify not eating broccoli. “We should think of this as a safety net, definitely not a replacement for a healthy diet,” Dr. Walter C. Willett tells The New York Times.
What nutrition adjustments have you made in your quest for a healthier lifestyle? Share your tips with the Y community below.
Need help with your nutrition habits, especially as it relates to diabetes or heart health? Learn more about YMCA Medical Programming.