Popular Diet Myths Debunked

a sandwich and corn chips on a white plate. the sandwich has a tape measure around it

You can’t always trust the internet for nutrition advice

As a new year begins, thousands will flock to the internet in search of ways to boost a healthy lifestyle.  Many popular diet facts and trends are circulated so often in the media that it’s hard to know which tips to trust and which ones should be tossed. Underneath popular opinion and platitudes, the truth about eating healthy may surprise you. A Texas A&M Health Science Center registered dietician separates myths from fact when it comes to your diet.

Gluten-free desserts are healthier
“Gluten-free desserts are not healthier than ‘normal’ desserts,” said Lisa Mallonee, a registered dietician with the Texas A&M University Baylor College of Dentistry. “In fact, gluten substitutes may actually increase calorie content and contribute to weight gain. With that being said, gluten-free food is great to consume by those diagnosed with celiac disease or who are gluten-intolerant—but gluten-free desserts should be eaten in moderation and with a balanced diet.”

Sugar free and fat free foods lead to fat-free bodies
When the words ‘sugar free’ or ‘fat free’ are splashed across a box of chocolate it’s probably easy to feel less guilty about eating the entire box in one sitting. “Fat free and sugar free do not mean foods are calorie free,” Mallonee said. “It doesn’t matter what type of food you are eating, if you are consuming more calories than you’re expending, you will gain weight.”

While browsing fat free or sugar free treats it’s essential to be a conscious label reader. In fact, the fat content in many of these ‘sugar free’ items can be extremely high. Similar to gluten-free desserts, when nutrients like fat are removed from food, artificial ingredients may be added back to the food to account for taste. This filler may lead to more calories.

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