MYTH: EATING AFTER 8 CAUSES WEIGHT GAIN The reason most people think that eating at night causes weight gain is because people tend to eat extra at night, not taking into account what they have already eaten during the day. Well, the way it works is that at the end of the day, the more calories you eat, the more weight you gain - regardless if it's during the day or at night. Even the healthiest foods, when eaten in greater amounts than needed for energy, will be stored as fat. It is not possible to circumvent the laws of thermodynamics and energy balance. It all comes down to calories in vs. calories out. However, the reason most people do gain weight from eating at night is because they have a late dinner after not eating for a long period of time. This makes it hard to make good food choices and also to keep portions in control. You may end up picking up a slice of pizza or two whereas if you weren't as hungry you would have time to cook a healthy dinner without sabotaging your diet.
The second concern that comes with late night eating is "mindless" snacking in front of the TV or hanging out with your buddies. People tend to pig out on ice cream, cookies, or pizza (not on celery and carrots) and this leads to weight gain because it is usually extra calories taken in.
So aim to spread your calories throughout the day and if you do have to eat a late dinner, don't worry about it leading to weight gain as long as you have not overeaten during the day. Try and eat most of your carbs during the day (carbs are used for energy so eat them at breakfast, lunch and snack to fuel your activities: work, school, gym, etc). At night, focus on eating protein and vegetables since most likely your lying around and don't need the energy from carbs.
MYTH: SUGAR MAKES KIDS HYPER This is a huge myth. It has even spawned a popular phrase: "sugar buzz." But when researchers put it to the test, they found no evidence that sugar led to hyperactivity in kids or adults. Researchers found that hyperactivity of children at parties or any type of festivity is from the environment they are in. In fact, in one study published in the New England Journal of Medicine,they gave some kids sugared foods and gave others foods with artificial sweeteners. Their parents and the researchers didn't know who was eating sugar and who wasn't. They monitored the kids for things like irritability and hyperactivity and they found no difference.
Another cause for hyperactivity could be from caffeine found in soda or even chocolate. Sugar may have an effect on kids with established hyperactivity, but it won't make a non-hyperactive child become hyperactive. All sugar will do will increase your energy level, but it won't cause hyperactivity. Many people still blame sugar for their children's "wild" behavior, but technically speaking there is no science that proves this.
Any food that affects blood-sugar levels can create an adrenaline surge, which will lead to a burst of energy. However, many kid-favorite, sugary snacks are lacking fiber which is the reason why your child may become hyperactive. So if your child is often bouncing off the walls of your home, simply swapping an orange for orange juice or high-fiber cereals for sugared varieties, will keep their blood sugar levels normal.
MYTH: SWALLOWED GUM STAYS IN YOUR BODY FOR 7 YEARS For the most part, gum is as indigestible as a paper clip. Gum is made from gum resin, flavoring and sweeteners. The human body cannot digest gum resin. Many of us were told as children that it would stick to our insides for seven years, but that is absolutely not true. Our bodies move indigestible material through our digestive systems and out of our bodies in bowel movements.
Many people don't realize this, but chewing gum can cause bloating because it causes you to swallow air. All that air gets trapped in your GI tract and causes pressure, bloating, and belly expansion.
There is absolutely no nutritional benefit to gum. Sugar-free gum often contains sorbitol. Sorbitol is a sugar substitute that acts as a laxative, which draws water into the large intestine. As little as four sticks of sorbitol-containing gum can cause bloating and abdominal pain.
MYTH: ORGANIC FOOD IS HEALTHIER THAN CONVENTIONAL FOODS According to The Institute of Food Technologists, organic food is no healthier than conventionally grown foods. Organic food means that its ingredients were grown without chemical pesticides, fertilizers or insecticides. It's healthy because there are no chemicals, but organic doesn't necessarily mean the food is nutritious.
Of course, even organic or all-natural food can pack on pounds. So be careful you don't get carried away. Take organic potato chips and cookies for example. Over eating these will still make you fat!
Considering organically-grown food can cost more than twice as much as conventionally-grown food, sticking to a diet rich in whole grains, lean protein, fruits and vegetables is your best bet to your healthiest and happiest diet.
MYTH: RAW VEGETABLES ARE ALWAYS BETTER THAN COOKED VEGETABLES Not so. The amount of nutrients you get from vegetables can differ for a number of reasons, such as how long you store them and how (or if) you cook them. Although cooking vegetables can lose nutrients, cooking can sometimes increase the amount of nutrients available to the body. An example of this is the antioxidant lycopene in tomatoes. Cooking tomatoes releases more lycopene than is available in raw tomatoes. In addition, in January, a report in The Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistryconcluded that cooking carrots, zucchini and broccoli was better than eating them raw.
Loss of nutrients can occur in cooking because some vitamins, like vitamins B and C, dissolve in water. Some can be lost if the vegetables are boiled for too long. Steaming or stir-frying helps retain the vitamins when you cook vegetables. The fact of the matter is vegetables are powerhouses of nutrition, no matter which way you eat them. Whether raw or cooked, five servings of vegetables a day are recommended for good nutrition.
MYTH: CARBS MAKE YOU FAT One of the greatest diet myths is that carbs make you fat. Nothing can be further from the truth. If the only thing you ate all day was a bagel, that bagel would not make you fat. It's not that carbohydrates make us fat; it's the quantity we eat which packs on the pounds. For example Italians live on pasta. Yet they eat pasta as their starter-primo piatto, which consists of 1 1/2 cups equaling 375 calories. Then they follow with a segunda or main course of lean meat or fish and vegetables.
In the United States, on the other hand, we most often eat pasta as our main course. A typical main course serving of pasta in this country is about 4 cups, or 1,000 calories. Big difference!
The secret to eating carbs and shedding pounds is eating high-fiber carbohydrates. Fiber is the zero calorie, indigestible component of carbohydrates. The more fiber a food contains, the less digestible carbohydrate there is. It is the net carbohydrate, not the total carbohydrate that gets converted and stored as fat. High-fiber carbohydrates have lower net carbohydrates than foods that contain no fiber. In addition, fiber adds texture, bulk and chewing satisfaction, which aids in consuming fewer calories, yet still feeling full. Choose whole grain breads, cereals, fruits vegetables, and legumes to fill your tank without gaining weight.
Tanya Zuckerbrot, MS, RD is a nutritionist and founder of Skinnyandthecity.com. She is also the creator of The F-Factor DietaC/, an innovative nutritional program she has used for more than ten years to provide hundreds of her clients with all the tools they need to achieve easy weight loss and maintenance, improved health and well-being. For more information log onto
Tanya Zuckerbrot MS, RD, is a Registered Dietitian in New York City and the author of two bestselling diet books: The F-Factor Diet and The Miracle Carb Diet: Make Calories and Fat Disappear – with Fiber.