Family Fitness Myths and Facts

Fitness suffers more from the myths about it than does possibly any other health-care concern. Here we will list common myths and present the facts that dispel them.

Myth: The Food Pyramid is for everyone.

Fact: For many people, six to seven servings of grains, breads, and cereals are too much. It can cause bloat, fat, and ill health. Notice this book did not promote following the Food Pyramid.

Myth: There is one perfect diet that will work for everyone.

Fact: Biochemistry varies so greatly from individual to individual that this is just not true. The Family Fit Program doesn’t offer a rigid diet plan but an approach that can be tailored to the individual needs of families.

Myth: The biggest cost of obesity in the United States is emotional, our self-esteem and self-image.

Fact: Over 300,000 deaths each year in the United States can be linked to obesity. Over $117 billion each year is drained from the U.S. economy because of obesity.

Myth: Stress does not make you fat.

Fact: The hormone released under stress-cortisol-leads to carbohydrate craving and overeating. By the way, stressed is desserts spelled backward!

Myth: All metabolisms are alike.

Fact: Everyone’s metabolism is different because each human body is unique. Family members will not have metabolisms that are exactly the same. Even twins do not have identical metabolisms.

Myth: A balanced diet provides everything you need to stay healthy.

Fact: For reasonable health this may be close to the truth, but for optimal health this is not possible. You can eat a balanced diet and still not get all the nutrients your body craves. Trace minerals such as zinc, magnesium, and cobalt are good examples of such nutrients.

Myth: Sugar makes kids hyperactive.

Fact: A correlation between sugar and hyperactivity has never been shown. Hyperactivity, like eating disorders, is a multidetermined developmental disorder. It is believed that hyperactivity, now known as attention deficit hyperactive disorder or ADHD, is caused by the absence of brain biochemicals, which causes an inability to focus and concentrate.

Myth: Kids need meat for healthy growth.

Fact: Kids need protein, but meat is not the only source of protein. Many vegetables have large concentrations of protein. Soy products are very high in protein. Fish is also high in protein.

Myth: Celery is a negative-calorie food.

Fact: No food reduces calories. There are some foods that have no calories. Celery is a very low calorie food.

Myth: Brown eggs are better than white eggs.

Fact: Unless clearly labeled as low-cholesterol or low-fat eggs, which are very recent arrivals on the marketplace, there is no difference between these types of eggs. The color has no extra health benefits.

Myth: Vitamins and other supplements are food replacements.

Fact: Vitamins and supplements are intended to boost the health benefits of our foods; they are not to be used as food replacements. Supplements cannot and do not provide dietary fiber, which is essential to digestive tract function, and other essential building blocks that the body needs. Pills do not substitute for food.

Myth: Croissants eaten plain are a healthy breakfast.

Fact: Croissants contain twelve times the fat and 50 percent more calories than an English muffin or plain toast. Always read the nutritional labels on breads, as they are not all alike.

Myth: Sea salt is better for you than ‘regular table’ salt.

Fact: Sea salt does not have any more nutritional value than regular salt. It just tastes different.

Myth: Chinese food leaves you hungry in an hour.

Fact: There is no scientific proof of this. Many Chinese dishes are heavily laden with rice and steamed vegetables and are low in protein, so you may feel hungry because you have a protein deficit by the time you digest that meal.

Myth: Eating late at night makes you fatter.

Fact: Families love to debate this issue, but the fact is that the time of day you eat does not have an effect on gaining weight. Weight gain still boils down to how many calories you eat in the course of the whole day. It is true that you burn fewer calories at night because your BMR slows when you are resting or sleeping.

Myth: Fresh fruits and vegetables are healthier for you than canned or frozen ones.

Fact: With modern freezing and canning procedures this is simply not true. In fact, frozen fruits and vegetables are typically picked at the peak of ripeness and then immediately canned or frozen, so these choices may have more consistent nutritional value than those you pick fresh at the grocer.

Myth: Fatty foods fill you up.

Fact: Fiber is more important in filling you up than fat. Fat does contain a higher percentage of calories than either carbohydrates or proteins, but the degree of fiber in all three categories of food varies.

Myth: You need to drink eight 8oz glasses of water every day to maintain good health. The 8 x 8 myth.

Fact: 5-6 glasses of water are sufficient and we can consume that water from a variety of sources, such as soft drinks, milk, coffee, tea, etc. But, the body does lose more water during vigorous activity through sweating, so be mindful to drink more during and after vigorous exercise. Water consumption during activity also helps keep the body temperature regulated.

Myth: You have to eat perfectly in order to lose weight.

Fact: There is no such thing as perfect eating. If perfect eating implies denial or sacrifice, then this is not true.You can have fun with food and lose weight.

Myth: If left alone without any outside influences, a child will eat only what he needs and will not overeat.

Fact: The tendency to overeat is instinctual. Children will eat motivated by instant gratification and not necessarily based on the physiological signal that they are full. Children are more governed by instant gratification than adults, so one could argue that they have a greater tendency to overeat.

Myth: Children do not have to worry about counting calories.

Fact: Children should watch calories just as much as adults should. The percentage of overweight children is skyrocketing. Children should be raised in an environment that teaches them to maintain a proper weight by watching what they eat.

Myth: Nuts are terrible foods that ruin diets.

Fact: Nuts are rich in unsaturated fats, not saturated fats. Eat small quantities because nuts are high in calories, and try to stick with the unsalted variety. Eating nuts can ruin diets because they are often eaten to excess, adding extra calories to the day’s total.

Myth: If you eat a lot of salt, it automatically raises your blood pressure.

Fact: Although large quantities of salt are not good for you for a variety of reasons, high blood pressure is not one of them, says the latest medical research, unless you are salt sensitive.

Myth: Tea and coffee are the same for you healthwise.

Fact: Tea has less caffeine than coffee, and tea is a good antioxidant. Tea also reduces plaque in arteries. Tea does not promote bone loss. For all of these reasons, tea is a better health alternative than coffee.

Myth: Coffee needs to be eliminated from a healthy lifestyle.

Fact: The latest findings show that coffee in moderation is not bad for your health. The notion that coffee causes heart disease, stomach ulcers, and cancer has never been proven by research, and coffee is one of the most studied beverages.

Myth: Obese people do not burn calories as efficiently as thin people.

Fact: Studies show that the difference in calories burned by thin and obese individuals is very small and that any difference between the two is probably attributable to the extra weight an obese person carries around.

Myth: Strength training will stunt a child’s growth.

Fact: Strength training will not slow or stunt a child’s growth. It will help muscles grow strong as it is intended to do. The warning about strength training is about injury rather than slowing growth.

Myth: Artificial sweeteners cause cancer because of the phenylalanine they contain. The warning labels on diet drinks say so.

Fact: Phenylalanine is an essential amino acid that the body needs; it is also a component of the sweetener aspartame. Most people do not need to worry about this, but those who suffer from a metabolic disorder called PKU cannot process phenylalanine, and it will rise to toxic levels in the body. This is true for about one in fifteen thousand people.

Myth: If you drink a diet soda with a candy bar, the calories in the candy bar are cancelled out by the diet soda.

Fact: No drink or food can cancel out the calories in another food.

Myth: Colon cleansing washes out poisons from the body.

Fact: Colon cleansing has no known medical value and it can damage the rectum or bowel. The bowel is not dirty and our bodies do a fine job of cleansing itself. But, eating rich or spicy foods can lead to a feeling of bloating and gas and this condition can be helped by the same procedures advocated in colon cleansing. But, drinking lots of water can help with this as well.