Do You Have Cart Smarts?
Busting 5 Nutritional Myths

January 16, 2014

By Anna Varriano

I shared many of my nutritional philosophies in my Get Cart Smart! presentation which I held for the first time this past summer. Since healthy eating starts with what you put in your grocery cart, this presentation walks participants through grocery store aisles, and educates them about what to put in their grocery cart and what to leave on the shelf. It was by far the most popular presentation I have ever offered; in fact, I had to turn some folks away as spaces were limited. I’ve had many requests to offer it again, and late January is the perfect time to do so. (Details re: time and place are at the end of this tip!)

Why late January you ask? Well, according to the Journal of Clinical Psychology, that’s the time (January 24th to be precise) when about 75% of us give up on our New Year’s resolutions – and as usual, losing weight was the number one resolution for 2014, with getting fit and healthy close behind, among the top 5.

So, why do so many of us give up? Is it because we have no willpower? Is it because we’re too lazy to do what it takes? Is it because in the back of our head there’s a little voice that says “you failed last time you said you were going to do that, so you’re going to fail again”.

There are loads of theories; however, I feel a big part of it has to do with not having the right information to act on, which ultimately leads to unsatisfactory results, no results, or results that don’t last.  Without results, how can we have continued motivation?

where to goIt’s especially hard to have the right information when it comes to health and nutrition; in fact, it can be downright frustrating given the overwhelming amount of information that is available. To complicate matters, much of the information is contradictory and seems to change by the hour. I do a ton of research and reading to try and keep on top of it all so that I can separate fact from fiction for the sake of my clients, students, and my own family! I’ll save you some time by sharing what I believe are the top 5 nutritional myths (in no particular order) that are sabotaging our health. These are based on not only on my research and readings, but on years of experience with clients.

MYTH #1 – Eat low-fat and no-fat foods

low fatWhen the naturally occurring fat in certain foods is removed to make a low-fat or no-fat processed food, something has to be added in its place to  make up for the lack of taste and texture that fat provides. Usually, what’s added is sugar, salt, and cheap fillers which can actually make our body better at storing fat. We need fat – in fact, every single cell of our body needs fat (including cholesterol).  When we avoid fat, we are also increasing the risk of becoming deficient in critical fat-soluble vitamins, such as A, D, E, and K. The problem isn’t fat, but rather that we have replaced healthy fats like butter, lard, beef tallow, and coconut oil, with highly processed, highly refined, often rancid, and often genetically modified oils like margarine, corn, soy, and canola. You’ll learn more about the skinny on fats in my Get Cart Smart! presentation, including why you have to eat fat to lose fat.

MYTH #2 – Exercise more, eat less

exercisePeople have been doing this for years, so why are more and more people overweight? It’s because it just plain doesn’t work! Don’t get me wrong, exercise is an important component of overall health and well-being, but research is showing it doesn’t play much of a role in losing weight. I have a lot of clients who have come to see me after years of exercising more and eating less and not getting any results in terms of weight loss. Weight loss is not about calorie-counting. In fact, when we significantly reduce our calorie intake, our brain thinks we’re in starvation mode, so it tells our body to slow down our metabolism and hang on to our fat. When these frustrated clients start following my nutritional recommendations, they get results. Weight loss can be a complex process as it can have so many causes, including hormonal imbalances, inflammation, and food sensitivities, all of which can be affected by the food we eat.

MYTH #3 – Foods labelled ‘organic’ or ‘natural’ are healthier for you

organicWhile more and more research is proving there are health benefits to eating organically grown foods, especially animal product, fruits, and vegetables, there are some cases where it makes little or no difference, especially when we are talking about packaged and processed food. For instance, some organic cereals (including gluten-free ones) have more sugar and unhealthy ‘fillers’ in them than their non-organic counter-parts.

MYTH #4 – Eating red meat and eggs will give you a heart attack

broken heartThere’s a mounting pile of research indicating that cholesterol and saturated fats are not the cause of heart disease. In addition, scientific studies have conclusively demonstrated that cholesterol from food has no effect whatsoever on the level of our blood cholesterol.  Cholesterol is such an essential part of health – so much so that the body has a very efficient mechanism to keep blood cholesterol at a certain level. When we eat more cholesterol, the body produces less; when we eat less cholesterol, the body produces more. So even if you follow a completely cholesterol-free diet, you will still have a lot of cholesterol in your body. In my opinion, many people are unnecessarily being put on statin drugs (cholesterol-lowering drugs), including young children. For more on this topic, check out my February 2013 Tip of the Month, ‘Cracking the Cholesterol Caper’.

MYTH #5 – Replace sugar with artificial sweeteners to lose weight

diet cokeArtificial sweeteners such as aspartame and sucralose have been shown to interfere with hormones that control appetite, and lead to food urges and overeating. One of the reasons this happens is that while artificial sweeteners trick your taste buds’ craving for sugar, they don’t trick your body and brain’s craving for it. Studies have shown that consuming foods and drinks containing artificial sweeteners promotes overeating and weight gain. In addition, artificial sweeteners break down in to toxic substances that can cross the blood-brain barrier and literally over-excite and ‘burn-out’ brain cells. By the way, one of the best things you can do for your health is avoid soft drinks, whether they be regular or ‘diet’ ones.

These are just a few of the myriad of myths that can sabotage our health and well-being.  If you’re ready to be educated, empowered, and energized so that you can take control of what you can for a healthier, more vibrant you, then I invite you to register for my Get Cart Smart! presentation. You’ll get great handouts, a loot bag, and a chance to win some very interesting edible door prizes! Details are as follows:

When:              Thursday January 30th 2014, 7:00pm – 9:30pm

Where:            International Academy Health Education, 380 Forest St, Ottawa

Cost:                $20 payable at the door (cash, VISA, or MasterCard)

Email to reserve your spot today!

I look forward to seeing you there. It will be a fun evening!

To your health!



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