With a new diet cropping up every other week, it can be tricky to know your enemy from your friend when it comes to deciding what to eat.
To help set the record straight, expert nutritionist Lucy Jones busts four common nutrition myths to help you make the right choices, whatever your healthy eating plan may be.
Myth: “Carbohydrates are fattening.”
"In fact, it is recommended that about a third of the food we eat should come from starchy carbohydrate foods, but in the UK we don't eat enough carbohydrates, particularly fibre.
"Carbohydrates are a good source of energy and have the lowest calories per gram of any major nutrient.
"The right carbohydrates will help you to feel full between meals, reducing the need to snack. Many complex carbohydrates, such as bread, also contain other vital nutrients such as fibre which is needed for healthy digestion.
"In fact, both white and brown bread contribute 20% of the total dietary fibre intake for adults in the UK.”
Tip: “The best advice for getting rid of extra weight (and keeping it off!) is to try to make small sustainable changes to your lifestyle and increase the amount of activity you do.
• Choose complex carbohydrates as part of this change – balance the more refined treats and be sensible with portion size.
• A couple of slices of bread for breakfast or lunch is a quick and satisfying meal option, and at around 80 calories a slice, is an easy portion size to track as you eat.
• To keep calories low, be careful with spreads and fillings. Other good choices are: fruit, barley, starchy vegetables like potatoes or parsnips, beans, brown rice cereals”
Myth: “I can’t eat packaged foods as they contain too much sugar.”
Truth: “There is a lot of variation in the sugar content of packaged foods with some low fat yoghurts or cereals containing high amounts. However, other wrapped items such as bread and porridge are low in sugar and should not be excluded from the diet.
"Most sliced, wrapped bread in the UK does not contain added sugar. Its sugar content is minimal and usually a result of the natural baking process, meaning that it falls within the “low sugar food” definition.
"In the few cases when sugar is added to bread, it is done so in very small amounts, normally less than 2%. This means that it often still falls into the low sugar category.”
Tip: “The best way to know how much sugar is in a product is to always read the label – anything with less than 5g of sugar per 100g of weight is a low sugar food so opting for these items can help to reduce your overall sugar intake (look out for the green colour code under Sugars to show the content).”
Myth: “I’m on a diet so I need to skip breakfast.”
Truth: “There is no one size fits all to diet advice. Whilst some people lose weight better by eating less on certain days, others benefit from having small regular meals through the day.
"The most important thing is that your changes are sustainable. Breakfast helps us with concentration, energy levels and nutrition.
"Studies show that skipping breakfast is linked to worse health outcomes, even weighing more. For many of us, our intake of several important minerals like calcium and iron would drop without breakfast and could place our nutritional health at risk.”
Tip: “Good breakfast options for weight control and health include a couple of slices of toast and whole-nut peanut butter, or poached or boiled eggs.
"These options are full of protein and nutrients, and release energy slowly throughout the day keeping you feeling fuller for longer.”
Myth: “Bread causes bloating.”
Truth: “For a small number of people with food intolerances, specific foods can lead to gastrointestinal distress.
"Whilst most of us have probably experienced the discomfort of bloating at some point, we often wrongly pinpoint bread and other wheat foods for this.
"In fact, symptoms may be aggravated by erratic eating habits, smoking or drinking large amounts of alcohol or coffee.
"What’s more, 90% of GPs now think that women are putting their health at risk by eliminating foods without any medical consultation.
"It is important to eat a well-balanced diet and consult a health professional for information and support about bloating.”
Tip: “There is no singular dietary cause of bloating, trying to remain de-stressed, eating a well balanced diet containing fibre and drinking enough water can help to combat bloating.”
• Bread makes an important contribution to carbohydrate, fibre, iron, calcium and thiamine intakes.
• It provides more than 10% of the average adult’s intake of iron, zinc, magnesium, protein and B vitamins as well as a small amount of potassium.
• White bread is a good source of non-dairy calcium as white bread is fortified with calcium.
• Evidence from the National Diet and Nutrition Survey suggests that people who regularly eat bread are more likely to have a healthy diet overall.
To find out more about bread and health visit www.sliceoflife.org.uk