Common diet advice debunked

The problem with simple advice is that it’s often not true. That’s the case with a number of well-intentioned recommendations for eating a healthier diet.

“I believe this is the case for ‘shopping the perimeter’ of the grocery store,” says Rachel Begun, registered dietitian and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. That advice may have intended to point shoppers to the produce section but today the perminter is where you’ll find the bakery and beer as well. Begun says, “First, many consumers shop in stores with non-traditional layouts making the phrase irrelevant and confusing in these situations. Secondly, for stores with traditional layouts, many of the healthiest choices are found in the center aisles.”

For example, middle aisles are where you’ll find whole grain cereals, brown rice and sources of vegetable protein including canned beans, dried peas and peanut butter. The freezer aisle is stocked with frozen fruit and vegetables, which offer a year round variety and are just as nutritious as fresh; sometimes even more nutritious. A recent study conducted by food science graduate Marin Plumb at South Dakota State University found that freezing blueberries boosts the antioxidant power of anthocyanins – the phytochemical pigment that makes blueberries blue. “The ice crystals that form during freezing disrupt the structure of the plant tissue, making the anthocyanins more available,” says Plumb.

Don’t Avoid All White Foods

While it’s true that we should eat foods in a variety of colors to get a variety of nutrients, did you know that the pigments in certain white foods are beneficial as well? “I like to challenge the ‘don’t eat anything white’ rule because onions, garlic, potatoes and bananas are fabulous for you,” says Jenna Braddock, registered dietitian and sports nutrition specialist. Don’t forget cauliflower, white beans and rice.

Night bites?

Calories eaten in the dark are not more fattening. However, you will gain weight if late night meals put you over calorie limits for that day. And after dinner snacks tend to be indulgent — such as that big bowl of ice cream — which can contribute to excess calories. Be aware that eating high fat and spicy foods before bedtime can cause indigestion that might disrupt a good night’s sleep. That can slow down your metabolism and — double whammy — you could wake up too tired for a morning run or trip to the gym.