Fitness and nutrition information can be really puzzling. Hundreds of companies, some small and some getting very big, very fast, have latched onto the world of nutrition and fitness with programs, apps, diets, and meal programs. My son-in-law is with Noom, an award-winning weight-loss program designed by psychologists and scientifically proven to create real, sustainable results. Noom is growing fast, with a remarkable app that you can use to manage everything from food intake to daily fitness regimes. There are many more programs and apps, including Weight Watchers reinventing itself to become more relevant to different demographics.
While we have all the information at our fingertips, I am constantly reminded by fitness trainers, doctors, friends, and enemies that all things food are not equal. I heed all warnings about foods I eat, then ultimately get frustrated that everything I am eating is terrible for me, and usually succumb to a meal or three that really are not the best choices…..with a huge smile on my face. I can always rationalize that I have cut back on some things so usually I feel great about my nutrition (not).
I decided to do my own research on a number of things I have been told lately. In no particular order:
Eat more bananas, they are good for you. Reality: Although the sugars are natural, bananas will give a quick sugar boost, resulting in a crash around mid-morning. This will make you feel more tired and more hungry, and the banana will have done more harm than good. Take me for example. Very early in the morning, I was eating ‘healthy’ yogurt with blueberries, nuts, and a banana. What I did not realize is though the yogurt was relatively low in calories and carbohydrates, the sugar content (their are TWO lines of sugar on each container) was way too high. Blended with the very high sugar content in bananas and blueberries, I was eating almost twice the daily allowance of sugar before 8am. NOT good.
Drink more green smoothies, they are good for you. Same as above – you better watch the amount of sugar in the ingredients of that protein smoothie or shake. I guess you just go with spinach, carrots, almond milk, and just a few strawberries. Leave the honey, banana, and chocolate syrup alone.
Protein bars. This one haunts me to no end. I was a huge protein bar consumer, thinking of these as “nutritional” and healthy. Reality: Protein can be a great way to fuel muscle, but most protein bars are hardly health food. Between belly-bloating soy, sodium, artificial colors, sugar, and high fructose corn syrup, most protein bars are potential saboteurs to your well-being. Those sugar-free or low-carb protein bars are no better. Research published in the Yale Journal of Medicine links the artificial sweeteners used to flavor many low-sugar foods to an increased risk for weight gain and sugar cravings.
Coconut water. I live in sub-Sahara Africa, also referred to as Orlando, Florida, so keeping hydrated is incredibly important when being outside at anytime of the day. Unless I am in the Atlantic Ocean, Gulf of Mexico, a non-alligator lake, or pool, I am constantly trying to down as much fluid as possible. This includes coconut water, which I was told was incredibly good for you and helped with preventing dehydration. Then I find this: A single cup of coconut water packs 15 grams of sugar. While it’s better to sip on coconut water than other sugary drinks, many doctors agree that coconut water should be used in great moderation. So, back to full-time water consumption.
Margarine, not butter. I can hear a friend from Alpharetta, Georgia yelling at me from afar. For many years, I was told to use margarine, not butter. Reality: I won’t go into the finite details, but margarine is no bueno. Recommending trans fat-laden margarine instead of natural butter may be considered some of the worst nutrition advice in history. Parkay this.
Diets. Weight Watchers, Noom, South Beach, low carb, high fiber, Mediterranean, anti-inflammatory, intermittent fasting……talk about mixed messages, the list goes on and on.
I could go on forever. My regular doc, who is disturbingly quiet but a very serious physician, has relatively demanded that all patients follow an anti-inflammatory ‘diet’, purchasing “80% of food in the vegetable/fruit section” of the grocery store. He asked me to research the longevity of Asians as well as the people located in the Mediterranean regions to learn about their food habits and diet.
Per my physician’s suggestion, I searched for Mediterranean diets one night, feel asleep after the second sentence that referred to high fiber, kale, cabbage, squid, nuts, tzatziki sauce and sorbet, and woke up the next morning to a bowl of Captain Crunch and chocolate milk. Stay healthy my friends.
Adios, pay it forward, stay safe, and have a Funday Sunday!