MYTH 1

Skipping meals will help you lose weight.

I know many people who will never admit to doing this to lose weight fast. It may seem like a simple idea. Restrict the calories and the weight will essentially drop.

Plus, in the beginning stages, the initial excitement of losing weight fast is enticing. To a person who is desperate to slim down, believe me I get it.

However, skipping meals in the long run can cause you to crave foods you miss and therein lies the diet danger zone.

Over time, your resolve will weaken, eventually leading you to eat even more at your next meal, as you are so famished.

This constant diet “tug-of-war” of deprivation and overeating will eventually average out your calorie intake over the week, causing your weight loss to come to a standstill.

A better approach is to eat sensible portions of all your main meals — breakfast, lunch and dinner without fail every single day. This helps keep hunger at bay so you don’t succumb to overeating and bingeing.

MYTH 2

Healthy food is so expensive!?

Eating well is about having a variety of wholesome foods such as grains, lean protein, vegetables, fruit and dairy everyday. There is no need to spend lots of of money on foods touted as “superfoods”.

The term “superfood” is a marketing term to imply that that food is of utmost nutritional quality.

Truth is, there is no one food that can give you a complete nutritional profile. Every food that exists in nature contributes various key nutrients to our health and well-being.

Your goal is to eat a variety of food to ensure you stand a better chance of getting a fuller spectrum of nutrients for prolonged good health.

MYTH 3

Thin people don’t need to watch what they eat.

When it comes to food and diet, thin people seem to be the revered group. How many times have you heard yourself say (with a tinge of envy, no doubt): “She’s so lucky she can eat anything and still stay so slim!”

Truth is, your nutrition status is about what’s happening inside your body, not just what you see physically on the outside.

It is no wonder that thin people who have bad diets and lifestyle habits can also suffer from ailments such as high cholesterol, heart disease, high body fat percentage, gout, diabetes, and high blood pressure, to name a few.

Everyone can benefit in the long run by embracing a healthy diet, active lifestyle and regular medical screening, no matter what their size and shape.

MYTH 4

I always exercise so I can eat whatever I like.

I will always remember this gentleman who used to come to the gym. He would crank up the treadmill to a steep incline of 9 and walk on it for about 30 minutes to burn off hundreds of calories.

At the end of his workout, he would put his arms up in the air as if he had victoriously finished a race and loudly proclaim: “Now I can go and eat my laksa!” His statement always made us stifle a giggle.

You may laugh but it is a common belief that as long as one exercises regularly, there is no need to watch what they eat. Truth is you do burn extra calories when you exercise, but it does not give you a free ticket to overindulge, especially if you want to maintain your weight.

It is this misconception that makes many people gain weight as soon as their regular exercise schedule is disrupted.

Exercising regularly has many wonderful benefits for your health. Just make sure you complement your effort with healthy meals.

MYTH 5

Eating rice makes me fat!

When it comes to losing weight, rice always gets a bad rep because it is the centre of our meals. But if you think about it, there are countries where rice is a staple but the people aren’t overweight.

There is no one food to blame on why someone becomes fat. Weight gain is caused when our total calorie intake far exceeds what we need for our activity level. Hence, food portions are what we should pay attention to.

The next time you take a plate of food, follow the Healthy Plate portion recommended by our Ministry of Health — fill half your plate with vegetables, a quarter with a grain such as rice and the remaining quarter with a protein food such as a lean fish, chicken or beans. This simple visual helps put your food choices into better perspective so you don’t have the misconception that a specific food is what makes you gain weight.

* Indra Balaratnam is a consultant dietitian who believes in simple practical ways to eating well and living healthy. She can be reached at indra.balaratnam@gmail.com

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