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10 Common Nutrition Myths De-bunked

Tuesday, February 28, 2012
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10. Say NO to nuts, bananas & milk if you want to lose weight.
The issue is with portion size. If you stick to the correct portion size these foods can easily be included as healthy foods for a weight loss diet.
Yes, the above foods are dense in energy but rich in nutrients (vitamins, minerals, proteins & essential fats necessary for growth and development). If losing weight is the concern, stick to portion size - 6-8 almonds (45 calories), 4 walnut halves (45 calories), 10 - 16 pistachios (45 calories), 1 extra small (4 oz) banana is only 60 calories and 1 glass of low fat milk a 100 calories.


9. If you drink enough milk throughout your pregnancy, your child will be born with a fair complexion.
Come on! Does that mean if you drink chocolate milk your child is chocolate colored and if strawberry milk, your child is pink?  Adequate milk intake (2-3 cups of milk and milk products) will help meet both the mother and child's essential calcium & protein requirements.
Skin coloring is genetically driven, not milk driven!


8. A plump child is a healthy child, but a skinny yet very active child is unhealthy.
A plump child may not necessarily be healthy, and may be at risk for developing chronic illnesses. On the other hand a skinny child that is very active, eats a balanced diet and is not prone to getting ill, can be considered ideally healthy.

7. If a label says Fat-free, it usually means it has 0 calories.
When a label reads fat free it just means that a fat substitute has been used, NOT THAT IT IS LOW IN CALORIES! Usually fat free foods are HIGH in sugar calories and maybe even in sodium. BEWARE: Fat free = 0 calories is too good to be true!

6. Pure ghee or even full fat milk should be given to children for overall health and growth.
All children below the age of 1 year can take full fat milk and ghee since fat is required for brain development. However, after they are 2 years old, 2% milk is safe if the child is otherwise eating healthy. Ghee can be included sparingly as part of a child's healthy diet if s/he is within the normal weight range. Parents must realize that these foods are rich in saturated fats and can pose a risk for developing childhood obesity leading to adult obesity and even future health complications.

5. The best way to control diabetes is by avoiding all starch and sugar/ carbs.
NO! The best way to control diabetes is by keeping blood sugar levels always under control.
Most foods have carbs in them, so does that mean a diabetic stops eating everything? The best way to control diabetes is by: Eating a diet rich in complex carbs such as whole cereals (oats, whole wheat, Ragi, bajra, Jowar, Quinoa, Rye), whole pulses, legumes, fruits & vegetables in the recommended portion sizes and at specific intervals.


4. If I skip a meal or two I will lose weight.
Quite the opposite for skipping meals can make you put on weight as it causes a) Your metabolism to slow down
b) Your body to believe that you are going into a starvation mode so that your body converts all the food you eat into fat & c) You to over eat or binge on junk foods instead.

Light meals at frequent intervals are best, and never ever skip breakfast!


3. Avoid oranges/ citrus fruits when you have a cold for these are cold foods.
Just because someone you know may be sensitive to citrus fruits when they are ill, doesn't mean you are sensitive too. In fact citrus fruits are high in vitamin C and are known to help stave off colds.
There is no such thing as a cold food or a hot food, just as there is no such thing as good food, or bad food. One should listen to their own body's signals and respond to it accordingly. Our immune system reacts to a particular food with a cold, cough, fevers, runs or sneezes if it is sensitive to it.


2. Pregnancy means eating for two.
You're putting me on! Eating for two does not mean eating twice the quantity. For your baby to develop healthy you only need to consume an additional 300 calories at the most daily.  If you gain the unnecessary weight during your pregnancy, you are the one who has to lose it post delivery.  

The need for essential vitamins and minerals is only slightly increased. Make your calories count by choosing nutrient rich foods and essential fatty acids like DHA (decosahexanoic acid) & Arachidonic acid that are vital for the development of your baby's brain and vision.


1. 100% fruit juice is a healthy substitute for a fruit!
NONE of the commercially available fruit juices have 100% fruit. Majority of these prepared fruit juices contain not more than 10% fruit.
For example a serving (4oz) of apple juice has approximately 15g carbs (sugar), and <0.5g fiber, whereas a small (about 100g) fresh crunchy, juicy apple has 15 g carbs, and 2.4g fiber.

In this day and age of information technology and the savvy consumer, we must use common sense over myth. We know what's best for our bodies in terms of nutrition, so go for what your gut says is medically sound and not just because..

By. Kanchan Saggi, Dietitian,

Do you have a nutrition Myth to share? Post yours below.



User Comments

13 September, 2011 | alpana mishra | Reply

alpana mishra is it true? papaya should be avoided during pregnancy

18 May, 2011 | Mande | Reply

Mande The forum is a brighter place thkans to your posts. Thanks!

18 February, 2011 | Surekha | Reply

Surekha Hi,
Here are two more myths to be added upon
1.Curd and fish should not be consumed together
2.Greens should not be taken during night

19 February, 2011 | Vijayalakshmi Iyengar | Reply

Vijayalakshmi Iyengar Dear Surekha they are both myths.
1. Spinach or any greens for that matter can be eaten any time of the day as it is light,easy to digest, does not gas and rich in fibre.
2.Curd is quite often used as a marinade for fish with very good results or many a time people round off a fish rich meal with curd/yoghurt, flavoured or otherwise and with no problems at that.I am glad you brought these two up.
Thank you
Sr Dietitian
Vijayalakshmi Iyengar

12 December, 2011 | ajay | Reply

ajay mam, i eat fish and after 1 hour i also eat curd (dahi)in dinner plese tell me their is any problem or not

14 December, 2011 | Poonam Vaswani | Reply

Poonam Vaswani Hello Ajay,
This is also a myth. There are several dishes in which curd is used as a marination for fish. Many international dishes also use cream as an ingredient in fish dishes. No corelation has been found between consuming fish and milk products together.

18 February, 2011 | Mrinal | Reply

Mrinal Is this true? A new one I heard yesterday was that having multi-grain bread defeats the whole purpose of having whole grains - as the body can only absorb one grain at a time and that two grains eaten together cancel each others benefits out???

19 February, 2011 | Vijayalakshmi Iyengar | Reply

Vijayalakshmi Iyengar Dear Mrinal
I agree with Poonam, about how in the digestive process the different grains do not interfere with each other.
However I would like to add a note of caution. If a label claims it has multi grains you need to look into the fiber content as a few of them could be from the refined flours of different grains and not all of them whole.
When the label says only Whole grains, you are clear of its contents.
Thank you

19 February, 2011 | Poonam | Reply

Poonam Hi Mrinal,
Once foods are eaten, the digestion process starts in the mouth. As the foods pass along the digestive tract they are continuously broken down into individual nutrients which are finally absorbed through the blood stream. Hence, the digestion process goes on simultaneously for all the grains and there is no question of one grain canceling the benefit of the other. Only if an anti nutritional factor exists in some food it might interfere with the absorbtion or availability of a nutrient in another food. eg phytic acid found in wheat bran and some whole grains may interfere with the absorption of zinc and iron, but if you are otherwise eating a well balanced diet this is not really a matter of concern. Soybeans contain trypsin inhibitors but, once they are cooked, fermented or sprouted these inhibitors are destroyed.

18 February, 2010 | Kanchan Saggi, Dietitian, | Reply

Kanchan Saggi, Dietitian, Hello Maithilli,

You’re right... Diabetics don't have to avoid fruits. The reason is…..
The sugar in the fruits doesn’t need insulin to get metabolized and hence it safe to include fruits. But, remember the carbohydrate in fruits does influence your sugar levels… So, watch out!!
Fibrous fruits (as you mentioned) like apples, guava, orange, papaya, sweet lime, pome, pear, banana - small etc are better options for diabetics. The fiber binds with sugar in the fruit and releases it very gradually into the blood stream without causing highs and lows. Sweet fruits like mangoes, pineapples, chikku, custard apple and jackfruit can play havoc with your sugar levels. So, beware!! There are a variety of other fruits that can be enjoyed by diabetics as well. But, it’s important to stick to a portion size of any food that we eat and more so because of diabetes. The amount of carbohydrate that is ingested at any given point in time will bring about fluctuations in your sugar levels. Hence it's important to consult a dietitian to help you find out which fruits best suit your diet (based on your sugar levels) and in what quantity, so that it doesn't cause an upset in the sugar balance.

Thank you.

17 February, 2010 | Vijayalakshmi Iyengar | Reply

Vijayalakshmi Iyengar Hello Ms Gowda, I am glad to hear that you like curd or curd rice to be exact. No, you will definitely not get a cold or will your cold get worse if you consume curd. As a matter of fact It will probably do you more good to have curd or any other preparation from it as it is a Probiotic, which means it has helpful bacteria that will help you build your immunity .What you can avoid is chilled curd as it will aggravate a sore throat, that you might have along with your cold or curd that is extremely sour as it might not agree with you.Freshly formed curd at room temperature is extremely beneficial. so rest assured you can have your curd rice at night.
Thank you

17 February, 2010 | Rathi Gowda | Reply

Rathi Gowda My grandmother does not give me curd at night as she says i will get a cold. I love curd rice, so is it alright if i eat it at night.? Can i eat curd if i have a cold?

17 February, 2010 | maithili | Reply

maithili Ranjan please donot spread wrong theories about diabetic patients not having fruits.
Diabetes patients can have high fiber fruits as the fiber content in these binds the sugar in intestine and helps in excretion.

19 July, 2009 | Padmashri Shanmugaraj | Reply

Padmashri Shanmugaraj Yes,Ms.Vanita. You are absolutely correct in pointing out that there are no scietific studies to confirm the beneficial effect of luke warm water with honey or lemon,on weight loss. One must understand that honey gives the same number of calories as sugar.So, honey is not a healthier alternative to sugar for individuals trying to shed weight.

02 July, 2009 | k.vanita | Reply

k.vanita what about luke warm water with honey to reduce weight. i have not found any study on this please enlighten me

02 July, 2009 | Ranjan | Reply

Ranjan Diabetics should avoid fruits altogether.

02 July, 2009 | Sheila | Reply

Sheila Here's another two -
During lactation, mothers should avoid gassy foods like lentils & beans, because the gas can pass into the baby resulting in colic.

Bananas and Potatoes are fattening.

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