Test Your Skills: Fact or Fiction?

Published Online: Thursday, August 21, 2014

As more people focus on creating healthy lifestyles, information about what’s considered healthy seems to be coming from a variety of sources. Conflicting information about nutrition is often fed to us through magazines, websites, so-called health experts, and even family and friends. But beneath the hype and misinformation is factual information about nutrition. Can you distinguish fact from fiction? Test your nutrition skills and see if you can determine which statements are true and which ones are false.

Fact or Fiction?
  • Juice cleanses are a healthy way to rid the body of toxins, especially after binging or before the start of a new diet plan.
Fiction: Although juice cleanses are widely popular, there is no science to back up the method. Your body naturally takes care of toxins, no matter what you eat. Many people do lose weight on juice cleanses, but the weight loss is most likely a result of eating a very small amount of calories, not from “detoxifying.” Cleanses typically restrict calories and nutrients and are only meant as a short-term fix—they don’t help achieve the long-term goal of adopting healthy eating habits as part of a lifestyle.

Fact or Fiction?
  • Snacking throughout the day is healthy.
Fact: Periodically snacking can be a good thing—if you’re eating the right foods. Munching on fruit, veggies, nuts, and other healthy foods can help to stave off hunger in between mealtimes, keeping you from devouring more than you should when you sit down to a full meal. But remember to keep portion sizes small—it’s just a snack!

Fact or Fiction?
  • Fad diets work
Fact: Trick question! Many people do lose weight following fad diets, but the weight loss is usually not healthy or sustainable. These trendy meal plans often heavily restrict calories and even eliminate entire food groups from your diet. Fad diets are usually often meant to be followed for just a short period of time, and their restrictions and rules make them almost impossible to follow long-term, even if you tried. Most people gain back any weight lost on fad diets once they discontinue the program. In addition, fad diets are purely focused on weight loss, and not on establishing eating habits to sustain a healthy lifestyle.

Fact or Fiction?
  • Carbs are the enemy.
Fiction: Carbohydrates are our main source of energy and are an essential part of a healthy diet. Carbs aren’t a problem—it’s the kind of carbs you’re eating. Fruits, vegetables, beans, and whole grains are excellent sources of carbohydrates, full of fiber and other nutrients. Starchy vegetables, like potatoes, can also be healthy sources of carbs. Avoid processed carbs like white bread, potato chips, and French fries, and try to limit portion sizes for grains and starchy foods.

Fact or Fiction?
  • Eating gluten-free foods is a good option for a healthy diet.
Fiction: Although a gluten-free diet is appropriate for those with celiac disease, gluten allergy, or gluten sensitivity, it’s not always the best option for the rest of the population. Many gluten-free foods are healthy (fruits, vegetables, oatmeal, meats, etc), but everything with a gluten-free label is not automatically healthy. There are countless processed products marketed as gluten-free that have high-calorie counts, but offer little to no nutritional value. These products are also often loaded with fat, sodium, and added sugars. If you feel that switching to a gluten-free diet is right for you, check with your health care provider and be sure to stick to as many fresh foods as possible and avoid processed junk food—just like you would for any other healthy diet.

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