Exercise for fitness does not stand alone under the wellness umbrella. Good nutrition shares an equally valued role in maintaining your health and quality of life. As with exercise myths that have transcended through the years, there are many nutritional misconceptions. The one I encounter the most comes from people who believe in rapid weight-loss diets. In their search for a quick fix, they go on extremely restricted diets that trigger sudden and often substantial weight loss, sometimes 10 or more pounds a week.
The trouble is that most of that weight loss is coming from water and lean tissue. When you stop the diet because you cannot sustain it, and resume normal eating, your quick fix is gone and the scale returns to where it was before you started.
There are myriad other popular food myths and misunderstandings, as well. Among them:
• Foods have "secret ingredients" to cause weight loss: There is no magical food that causes weight loss. Remember the grapefruit diet that was supposed to speed up your metabolism? It originated in 1930 and still lingers, along with several similar diets. Good eating habits and exercise are the key ingredients you need to achieve safe and effective weight loss.
• Eating late at night will make you gain weight: Overindulgence causes weight gain, not the time on the clock. What you eat and how much you eat are more important than when you eat.
• You should eat food groups separately: Fortunately, your digestive system can deal with more than one type of food at a time. In fact, most every food we eat is a combination of the different food groups. There are very few foods that are just pure carbohydrates, pure fats or pure protein.
• Carbohydrates will cause you to gain weight: Overindulging in any food group, not just one heavy on carbs, can lead to weight gain. While you might want to limit your intake of simple carbs (high-sugar and low-fiber foods), healthy complex carbohydrates that are high in fiber (fruits, veggies, beans, whole grains) are necessary, as they are the main source of energy for our muscles and brain.
• Dark breads are more nutritious than other breads: Not always. Sometimes dark breads have caramel or other coloring added in an effort to make them look like whole-grain bread. For true whole wheat or whole-grain bread, choose breads whose first listed ingredient is 100 percent whole wheat or 100 percent whole grain.
• Brown eggs are more nutritious than white eggs: What difference does an eggshell make? It simply lets you know the color of the bird it came from. White eggs come from white hens, brown eggs from red hens. There is no nutritional difference, though sometimes brown eggs are a little more expensive.
Check with your doctor before starting a new exercise program. Sally Anderson is happy to hear from readers but can't respond to individual inquiries. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.