“Good Grief”- Charlie Brown


Have you ever wondered why dietitians anticipate the month of March? No, it’s not because there is legitimate excuse to drink green beer and eat green pancakes! Albeit, I do indeed enjoy my green lager!

Every year Dietitians of Canada (the professional group that helps promote the profession… think of it as PR) highlights a nutrition-related theme and promotes it via flyers and organization specific programs over the month of March. This year, the theme is “busting up popular food and nutrition myths by bringing truths to Canadians“.  Please note the emphasis I have placed via red letters.

While this may look as though Dietitians are the ones called upon to protect you from the nutrition BS. BUT, if you are to take a critical look at the nutrition busters something very, very obvious starts to surface.

  •  Tip #2 Avoid carbs if you want to lose weight. […] The best weight-loss plan is one you can stick with. To lose weight and keep it off, exercise regularly and use Canada’s Food Guide to plan a balanced diet with good food choices in the right amounts for you.

  • Tip 3. Late-night snacking will make you gain weight. Late-night snacking can lead to weight gain, but it’s not due to the time on the clock. The trouble is, after-dinner snacking can lead you to eat more calories than your body needs in a day, especially if you’re having high-calorie snack foods and sweetened beverages. Still hungry? Sip on water with a squeeze of lemon, or go for small portions of healthy choices like whole grain cereal with milk, a piece of fruit, or plain air-popped popcorn. 

  • 13. Certain foods, like grapefruit, cabbage soup or celery, can burn fat and make you lose weight quickly.Sorry! There is no food that burns fat or makes you lose weight more quickly. Weight loss diets that focus on single foods, like grapefruit, cabbage soup or celery, are restrictive and lack nutrients needed for good health. It’s true that when you eat only one type of food, like cabbage soup, you might eat less and take in fewer calories than you need and maybe lose weight at first. But in the end, these diets are boring, don’t create healthy habits you can stick with, and don’t help with long-term weight loss. The best way to lose weight is to eat healthy foods in the right portions and be active.

  • 17. Cows’ milk is only good for baby cows, not humans. THE TRUTH: […] Milk has other health benefits too. For example, as part of a healthy diet, milk might help protect against high blood pressure and colon cancer. Canada’s Food Guide recommends you enjoy two cups (500 mL) of lower-fat milk every day for good health. 

   —> Interesting contraction to  Tip #25  If a food is low in fat or fat-free, it must be healthy […] THE TRUTH: Just because a  food is low in fat or fat-free doesn’t mean it’s healthy. […]  Choose foods wisely: Read food labels and consider a food’s overall nutrient content. Don’t judge a food by fat alone!

  • 19. There is no difference between a dietitian and a nutritionist.THE TRUTH:  A dietitian is your smart choice for credible advice on healthy eating.

  • 26. If you eat too much sugar, you’ll get diabetes. THE TRUTH: You will not get diabetes from eating sugar. It’s wise, however, to limit your sugar intake. Foods that are high in sugar, such as cookies, candies and soft drinks, are often low in nutrients and high in calories. Diets with too many calories can lead to weight gain, and being overweight is one of the main risk factors for type 2 diabetes. […]You can reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes by eating a healthy diet, maintaining a healthy weight and being physically active.

  • 29. Fruit has too much sugar to be healthy. THE TRUTH: Fruit is a healthy choice. It’s true that fruit has naturally occurring sugar, but it is also chock full of vitamins, minerals and fibre that are important for good health. Choosing more vegetables and fruit, naturally sweetened by Mother Nature, can help you maintain your weight and reduce your risk of developing chronic disease.

While I am not one to promote eating tablespoons of sugar as a healthy thing to do, I am curious why the sweetener tip got a more positive spin “can be enjoyed in moderation, as part of a healthy diet” vs. the  naturally occurring sugars tip?

  • 30. Honey, brown sugar and agave syrup are better for you than white sugar. THE TRUTH: Nutritionally speaking, they are all pretty much the same. While some people consider brown sugar, honey or agave syrup to be more natural, they are still sugars. All are concentrated sources of calories with very few other nutrients. Your body can’t tell the difference between them and white sugar. In fact, your body handles naturally occurring sugar in food or processed sugars and syrups in the same way. Excess sugar in any form gives you extra calories. Whether you choose to use honey, brown sugar, agave syrup or white sugar, use small amounts. 

  • 31. Artificial sweeteners have too many chemicals to be healthy. THE TRUTH: Artificial sweeteners can be part of healthy eating. Health Canada approves all sweeteners for safety before they can be sold in Canada. Health Canada also develops strict guidelines for how food producers can use a sweetener, as well as advice on how much is safe to eat each day. Artificial sweeteners add a sweet taste while limiting calories and can be enjoyed in moderation, as part of a healthy diet. 

  • 34. Dietitians only eat healthy foods – never chocolate, fries, chips or candy.THE TRUTH: No way! Dietitians eat all sorts of different foods, even chocolate, french fries, chips and candy…on occasion. Dietitians are nutrition experts with university degrees in food and nutrition. Dietitians have a real passion for nutrition, health and food. Just like anyone else, we enjoy foods that make our taste buds tingle! Dietitians believe that healthy foods are delicious foods. And we also believe that there’s nothing wrong with the occasional treat. 

What happens when someone encounters a fat dietitian? S/he must NOT be eating chocolate, fries, chips and candy on occasion. Shame to the profession. 

  • 35. Drinking tea causes dehydration.THE TRUTH: It’s a popular belief that tea is dehydrating because it has caffeine, but the level of caffeine you get from drinking moderate amounts of tea, even strong tea, doesn’t dehydrate you. Tea is actually 99.5 percent water and counts towards your fluid intake for the day, so it can help keep you hydrated. Hydration is important for concentration, alertness and physical performance. Canada’s Food Guide encourages you to satisfy your thirst with water as a calorie-free way to help stay hydrated. Hot or cold, tea is also hydrating and, with no added sugar, is calorie-free and tastes great. 

Um… wasn’t the tip about hydration? Why is there a need to use calories to entice people to drink water?  How about the fact that our bodies are primarily made of water; that’s pretty cool, right?

  • 36. Mayonnaise should be avoided when following a healthy diet. THE TRUTH: Mayonnaise can be included as part of healthy eating. In fact, Canada’s Food Guide recommends that we consume a small amount (30-45 mL/2-3 tbsp total) of unsaturated fat each day.  Choose a mayonnaise that has little saturated and trans fats (5% or less Daily Value [%DV]) and provides healthy unsaturated omega-3 fats. Small amounts of mayonnaise can help add extra flavour to your favourite healthy foods. 

This one really tickles my BS radar! The reason? Hellmans is one of the nutrition month sponsors.  Is this tip a coincidence?

  • 38. The % Daily Value on the Nutrition Facts table is not very useful. THE TRUTH: The % Daily Value (%DV) is useful for anyone wanting to make healthier food choices. You can use the %DV to see if a food has a little or a lot of a nutrient. You can use it to compare products and make a better choice. For example, you might want to choose a product with less fat and sodium, and more fibre, iron, vitamin A and calcium. An easy rule of thumb: 5% DV or less is a little, and 15% DV or more is a lot for any nutrient.

WHAT THE “F-WORD” is rule of thumb doing here?GOOD GRIEF!  Rule of thumb is a rude reference to an old law permitting men to beat their wives with a stick no thicker than a thumb.

Well, there you have it.  The weight-loss experts, I mean DIETitians have demystified the words nutrition problems and confusion.  While intentions are great and well-intended, seems like they’ve missed one really pressing and important myth regarding nutrition: weight-loss.

JULIE’s MYTH BUSTER: 

Weight-loss leads to better health outcomes.

THE TRUTH: weight is an inaccurate measure of your health status.  Weight-focused interventions have failed to provide proof of any long-term sustainable improvements in your health.  A healthy body comes in differend shapes, sizes and BMIs. By building trust and providing compassion towards ourselves, we can begin to heal from pressures of the thin ideal.

~Accept your body the way it is- you’ve achieved a lot so far with it!

~ Move your body in a way that brings you pleasure and JOY!

~ Believe and trust your hunger cues- our bodies were made to survive.

With compassion and concerns,

@julie_rochefort

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3 thoughts on ““Good Grief”- Charlie Brown

  1. Jacqui Gingras says:

    Hi Julie,
    Who else is sponsoring Nutrition Month this year?
    These myths are seemingly random until we know who is sponsoring.

  2. Lauri says:

    I don’t understand what you are trying to say? Your comments do not make sense. Like the comment about “why do you need calories to entice people to drink water”…um…the tip is that it is ok to drink tea for hydration and encourages people to also drink water. It does not recommend that people have drinks with calories.

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