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True or False – common health myths exposed!

They say embarking on a new habit or way of life requires willpower and a strong positive mental attitude. What if it’s our mental attitude that’s the problem though? Perhaps our subconscious is sabotaging our will to feel good, unbeknown to our conscious mind? Perhaps it is those beliefs we hold, whether true or false, that we need to change?

In my everyday life I’ve heard all sorts of food/diet/fitness related beliefs, used by all sorts of people, standing in the supermarket queue, in the canteen at work, out walking with friends, at the gym. Maybe it’s the TV, the diet industry, food manufacturing companies or magazines that give out false, misleading information, or maybe people want to believe what they do because then they don’t have anything to change – their choices right now are OK in their eyes, despite complaining about tiredness, excess weight and headaches.

Here, I’m going to discuss whether the average person’s own advice to themselves is accurate and true, or whether it can be thrown in the bin with those fad diets and Geri Halliwell yoga DVDs promising abs and a pert tosh in 6 weeks!

Myth 1 – “Diet drinks are OK because they don’t contain any calories or sugar.”

FALSE: Diet drinks such as Diet Coke are artificially sweetened with aspartame, and the cruel reality is that aspartame actually causes weight gain as the body treats it the same way it treats sugar, by raising insulin which in turn can lead to increased body fat. It may not have the same calories as regular Coca-Cola but the overall effect on your body is no different.

Myth 2 – “Not having breakfast means it’s OK to have elevenses such as cake and scones.”

FALSE: By not eating breakfast within 30 minutes or rising from sleep, your metabolism is on a go slow until you do eat. That’s precious time wasted when your body could have been burning energy all morning, hence the reason most people claim to be hungrier when they first start eating breakfast again, your metabolism is coming back to life. Plus, remember not all calories are equal, a bowl of porridge may have roughly the same calories as a cherry scone, but the scone’s impact on your body is not so desirable.

Myth 3 – “We need to be working out for 2 hours a night, most nights of the week.”

TRUE and FALSE: Everyone is different and if you are able to find a method of exercise which you enjoy by all means stick to it. Walking is one of the best, low impact, form of exercises that almost everyone can do, and it’s free!  Make sure you walk at a reasonable pace where you can maintain a conversation but couldn’t sing a song for optimum health benefits. We also need to realise that for those of us for whom stress is an issue, working out hard for more than 40minutes can actually put increased stress on the body so frequent, shorter bouts where the heart rate is elevated are best.

Myth 4 – “When we’re going through a stressful time at work or in life, we need our ‘bad’ foods.”

FALSE:  This is the peak time whereby your body needs looking after, it needs wholesome nutritious foods that will keep your energy levels steady, allow you to sleep well and awake freshed, with minimum stress on your body. Junk food is called so for a reason.

Myth 5 – “It’s OK, I’ll work all this drink and take-away food off this week at the gym.”

FALSE:  Diet is key in weight loss. Exercise helps, however if you’re only putting junk foods into your body, or regularly drinking three nights of the weekend, you’re increasing those nasty free radicals in your body and decreasing your store of antioxidants. Think of antioxidants as your optimum health bank, if you only ever withdraw from it, eventually you would go into the red and your health is on the decline.

You may exercise and manage to maintain your weight, but this is the wrong attitude to have, you’re aging faster than you should as a result and you’re putting yourself at a higher risk of all sorts of illnesses and not topping up your antioxidant reserve. In fact, research shows that too much exercise actually causes free radical production! If you’re an exercise junkie, increase foods such as – dark chocolate, green tea, berries, beans, apples, ginger, garlic and reduce processed foods.

Myth 6 – “I never read food labels, if it says ‘Diet’ or ‘Fat-Free’ I know it’s OK.”

FALSE: The ‘fat’ is often replaced with sugar to maintain taste, sugar is our enemy in the weight loss/health battle. Read the labels of the low fat and full fat version next time you’re shopping and I guarantee the low fat ingredient list is longer and more complicated. The best piece of advice I can give you here is to read the ingredients list, if you come across anything that you either cannot pronounce or do not know what it is, don’t eat it. This counts for cereals, breads, yogurts, all so called ‘health’ foods. A bar of good quality chocolate may actually have fewer nasty ingredients than some children’s breakfast cereals!  Scarey but true.

LISA’S TIP:  For a comprehensive list of anti free radical fighting foods that boost our health, see


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Posted by on May 14 2012. Filed under Lifestyle. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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