The more you know about nutrition, the better you eat. People well-versed in accurate nutrition information consume fewer calories, less fat, and more fruits and vegetables. The catch is that many of us know less than we think. According to a Gallup Poll conducted by Weight Watchers International and the American Dietetic Association, 90% of women surveyed said their diets were healthy; yet, only 1% of us really meet even minimum standards for a healthful diet.
Part of the problem is that we’re painfully confused about even basic nutrition facts,and access to the internet has only made things worse, since so many sites are heresay and gossip, not credible research. For example, according to a US Food and Drug Administration survey of people’s knowledge about fat, only one out of every five people knew that all fats – be it olive oil, butter, or lard – provide the same number of calories; seven out of ten had not heard of mono-unsaturated fats, and almost 40% were unsure or wrong about what foods supply saturated fats. We also down play the fat in foods, underestimate portion sizes, and down right lie about how much we eat. Consequently, we think we have cut back on fat or grains, but actually have increased our calories.
Knowledge also backfires. Tell us we’re eating low-fat, and we eat more. In one study, women ate more for lunch when they thought they were snacking on low-fat yogurt than they did when they were told the yogurt was full-fat, regardless of the actual fat and calorie contents. This mind-over-calories phenomenon might explain why obesity rates continue to rise despite increasing use of fake sugars.
In short, unless your friend is able to sift through the mix of good vs junk on the internet, it is likely her information is confused at best. Common sense tells you that eating real foods, not the latest fad berry or bottled beverage, gluten-free or food combination, is what works for healthy eating. load the plate with colorful fresh vegetables and accent it with a little lean protein, whole grains, calcium-rich foods, and omega-3-rich fish and you’re on your way to better health! Photo credit: Mark Walley via Compfight