Thursday, April 29, 2010

Myth: Skipping meals is a good way to lose weight.

feet on bathroom scale
Answer: Busted!

It seems logical - skip a meal, eat less food and lose weight. Skipping meals makes your body think you are in a starvation mode, slows your metabolism, and makes you hungry. In fact, you may be so hungry that you overeat the next time you eat. You end up eating more calories than if you had just eaten the meal.

Skipping a meal and making up for it later can lead to eating more calories overall and work against your weight loss efforts. A better approach is to honor your hunger and eat smaller, more frequent healthy meals and snacks throughout the day. Choose foods that will fill you up and give you lasting energy, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean protein.

Contributor: Karen Sherbondy, RD, LD, Extension Associate, Nutrition and Exercise Physiology, University of Missouri Extension,

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Myth: Fresh vegetables are better than frozen.

Answer: It depends…

vegetable assortmentWith spring upon us, many people start thinking about gardens and farmers markets. These provide wonderful fresh produce, but if that produce is not stored properly, the quality can quickly deteriorate.

Ethylene gas is a naturally occurring enzyme in fruits and vegetables that causes them to ripen. That is why some can be picked before they are ripe and ripen in a paper bag. However, that same gas can cause other produce to deteriorate if stored together. Freezing stops ethylene gas production.

Plain, frozen vegetables (sauces can add extra calories, fat or sugar) can be healthier than fresh, depending on how long the fresh have been sitting in the market or in your refrigerator. Nutrient content deteriorates as vegetables ripen. Frozen vegetables are processed at their peak nutritional value. It could take days or weeks for fresh vegetables to be transported and stored before they are cooked.

Proper storage with other fruits and vegetables is critical. It’s best to purchase only amounts that can be used before they become overripe or decayed. Otherwise, you need to preserve them through freezing or appropriate canning methods.

Contributor: Karen Sherbondy, RD, LD, Extension Associate, Nutrition and Exercise Physiology, University of Missouri Extension,

Friday, April 23, 2010

Myth: Eating after 8 PM causes weight gain.

clock showing 8:00
Answer: Busted!

It doesn’t matter what time of day you eat. It boils down to what and how much you eat and how physically active you are during the entire day. These factors determine whether you gain, lose or maintain your weight. Your body will store extra calories as fat, no matter when you eat.

However, eating later in the evening may get you into trouble. Often we eat in the evening because we are tired or bored. Try to avoid snacking in front of the TV - it may be easier to overeat when you’re distracted by the TV. Leave the room and do something else during the commercials to decrease your exposure to advertisements that may trigger eating.

Think first about how much you’ve eaten already in the day. It’s a good idea to eat more of your calories during the time of day you are most active. That is different for everyone.

Contributor: Karen Sherbondy, RD, LD, Extension Associate, Nutrition and Exercise Physiology, University of Missouri Extension,

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Myth: Our food choices don’t affect the environment.

Answer: Busted!

What we eat matters. The food choices we make every day have a big effect on the environment. How food is grown, stored, transported and processed can influence the environment.

Trucking, shipping and flying in food from around the country and the globe takes a toll on the environment and on public health. Food waste (discarded packaging and food) ends up in landfills and requires additional transportation to get it there.

The good news is that even small changes in what we buy and eat can add up to real environmental benefits. What can we do?

  • Eat local. Buying local can reduce pollution and energy use associated with transporting and storing food. It can provide fresher, more flavorful and nutritious food, support local farmers and the local economy, and create a sustainable food system.

  • Buy foods with less packaging.

  • Compost food waste.

  • Visit your local farmers market.

Eating “green” can mean eating fresher, healthier foods while reducing your grocery bill and supporting local farmers.

Contributor: Karen Sherbondy, RD, LD, Extension Associate, Nutrition and Exercise Physiology, University of Missouri Extension,

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Myth: It doesn’t matter what I choose to eat before a sporting event, as long as I eat something.

Answer: Busted!

Planning makes a big difference in performance. Choose meals and snacks high in carbohydrates, while avoiding high sugar foods. Carb-rich foods give you quick energy without slowing you down. Good choices include:
plate of spaghetti with red sauce
Spaghetti and red sauce
Macaroni and cheese
Vegetable soup

Baked white or sweet potatoes
Fruits and 100% fruit juices
Frozen fruit bars

Rice, couscous, quinoa and other grains
Breads, bagels, pitas, and tortillas milk and bread

Nonfat and low-fat milk and yogurt
Nonfat and low-fat soy milk and soy yogurt
Nonfat and low-fat ice milk and frozen yogurt
Nonfat and low-fat puddings
Mozzarella cheese

OTHER eggs
Sports drinks
Energy bars and gels

Lean meats
Eggs, tofu, veggie burgers, soy nuggets

Contributor: Susan Mills-Gray, Nutrition & Health Education Specialist/Co-County Program Director, Cass County, University of Missouri Extension,

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Myth: Drinking milk at the pre-game meal can cause stomach cramps.

Answer: Busted!
woman running on path
Unless a particular athlete has an allergy to milk or is lactose intolerant, there isn’t any reason to avoid 1% or skim milk during a pre-practice or pre-game meal. These two milks are an excellent source of both carbohydrate and protein with very little or no fat. Having 8 ounces of skim or 1% milk or yogurt up to 2 hours before a competitive event or practice can even help boost blood sugar for the early minutes of the event or practice – just the energy you need! The protein kicks in with more energy a little later.

Contributor: Susan Mills-Gray, Nutrition & Health Education Specialist/Co-County Program Director, Cass County,

Friday, April 9, 2010

Myth: I don’t have time to exercise.

Answer: Busted!

Michelle Obama's new initiative targeting childhood obesity has some words of wisdom for us all. Let's Move! Often we think exercise has to consist of an activity done for an extended period of time. The best place to start is to just start moving more.

Look at places in your day where you could add in some physical activity.

  • Plan more steps during your day. Make extra trips to the copy machine or down the hall to talk to your coworkers rather than sending an e-mail or calling.

  • Move and talk. Walk around the office during those conference calls. Have a small hand weight near the phone to use while talking on the phone.

  • Don’t drive around looking for the closest parking spot-park farther away and walk to the door.

  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator. A good rule of thumb is walk up one flight and down two.

  • Don’t just let the dog out-walk the dog.

  • Walk around the field while your kids play soccer or other sports.

It may not seem like much, but all those little steps will add up. The important thing to remember is to move more throughout the day!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Myth: Walking for exercise doesn’t count.

Answer: Busted!

When we think of exercise, visions of gyms and exercise equipment often come to mind. But walking can be great exercise. Walking is something just about anyone can do. All you need is a good pair of walking shoes and a safe place to walk.

Walking can reduce your risk of age-related conditions like heart disease, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and osteoporosis. It can also reduce stress, control weight, build muscles, and increase your energy level. So let's move it!

You don’t have to focus on a structured walking program initially. A good place to start is by getting in more steps each day. Most Americans average 2,000 to 3,000 steps per day (about one to one and a half miles). Set a goal of working up to 10,000 steps (about five miles) over time. Try a pedometer to monitor the number of steps that you get in and watch your step count climb.

Regular physical activity will help keep you healthier throughout your life. It’s never too late to start but you should check with your health care provider before beginning a new exercise program. Let's get walking!