Many people begin their journey towards health for one reason alone, weight loss. The sad fact is that there is so much misinformation being circulated that it’s almost impossible for the well meaning dieter to separate the wheat from the chaff. Compounding the issue is that health research is in a constant state of flux. For example, when I was a youngster back in that Aqua-net lacquered era called the 80′s) commercials bombarded Saturday Morning cartoons, touting the benefits of “The Incredible Edible Egg!” It was a catchy little jingle, which I still sing to myself whilst cracking one from a dozen. A decade later, in the 90′s, Aqua-net was out, flannel was in and eggs were exiled into the wasteland of bad press. They were cholesterol ridden, making them the shelled summoners of clogged arteries and heart attacks. Plus, everyone knows that food which are high in cholesterol are just ridden with fat. Suddenly, the outlook on eggs was less than sunny side up.
This was a big disappointment for me, as eggs are among my favorite foods. Skip forward to the present, and eggs are back on the menu, just so long as we remove the yokes. Those tempting yellow dollops are composed of pure, unadulterated evil but the whites, they’re cool. Like a good, nutrition savvy, denizen of the kitchen I had been in the habit of making egg white omelets for myself. When discussing this with a fellow culinary friend, he gasped in horror, appalled that I should do something as unnatural as deprive those poor eggs of their yokes.
“That’s where all the nutrients are!” He practically shrieked.
He was not in error. Egg yolks have 100% of your daily recommended intake (DRI) for Vitamins A,E,D,K,DHA and AA, and carotenoids, compared to the whites, which have zilch, according to the (USDA National Nutrient Database for
|Nutrient||Egg White||Egg Yolk||DRI Total %||DRI Total %|
|B6||0.002 mg||0.059 mg||3.3%||96.7%|
|Folate||1.3 mcg||24.8 mcg||5%||95%|
|B12||0.03 mcg||0.331 mcg||8.3%||91.7%|
|Vitamin A||0 IU||245 IU||0%||100%|
|Vitamin E||0 mg||0.684 mg||0%||100%|
|Vitamin D||0 IU||18.3 IU||0%||100%|
|Vitamin K||0 IU||0.119 IU||0%||100%|
|DHA and AA||0||94 mg||0%||100%|
|Carotenoids||0 mcg||21 mcg||0%||100%|
The “Incredible Edible Egg” campaign was launched by none other than the American Egg Board, a U.S. marketing board that promotes, what else, eggs! While these commercials weren’t presenting false information, they certainly weren’t going to modify their jingle to include a line about having 186 mg of cholesterol.
As far as fat goes, one egg by itself only has 5g of fat, roughly 8% of daily recommended value. Of this, only 1.5g is from saturated fats. So, when is the last time you ate just one egg (outside of Easter)? Most people use three or more, and loading them up with butter, cheese. This is where the fat creeps in. Still, when you crack open the menu at Coco’s and see that your favorite omelet packs a whopping 1300 calories per serving, it’s easy to blame the eggs, they’re already in the doghouse.
These marketing boards and the endless teems of companies representing various products are part of the reason why nutritional information made public can vacillate so wildly from one week to the next. Billions of dollars are put behind food propaganda. It’s like election season, only there’s no end to the chatter. Millions of dollars are put behind “hot new” studies to either seek out the benefits of a food product being promoted or to unveil the “hidden dangers” of competitors. The research is seldom new, but it can be packaged that way for the media, and if you get enough force behind an idea, it suddenly becomes truth, much in the same way wives tales and superstitions are born.
This cycle isn’t limited to food, it branches out into exercise physiology, diet tips and more. It’s impossible to track down the genesis of each tidbit of bad info, and most people don’t feel the need. If they’ve heard it often enough, or coming from the mouth of Oprah, Dr. Oz, (whoever the hot television icon is of the moment) they latch on and won’t let go for anything.
The diet industry, being the goldmine that it is, unfortunately is the breeding ground for many of the fallacies thriving in our collective consciousness. With millions of competing fitness franchises, diet programs, work out DVDs, exercise equipment manufacturers, sportswear designers, athletic show companies, etc. there is no end to the slanted truths being hurled our way.
In an article published for The Monterey County Herald, author Barbara Quinn attempts to shake down a few misconceptions that have been spouted too long for her taste. I’d like to leave you with a few of these to mull over.
Quinn points out that “belief that something is true without evidence is a presumption. Belief that persists despite evidence to the contrary is a myth. Understanding supported by good evidence is a fact.” How many of these presumptions are you guilty of? I know I’d have to own up to a few!
- The Myth: Small changes in eating habits and fitness over time will cause large amounts of weight loss.
- The Fact: Studies have shown that small changes yield small results, i.e. small changes in weight loss. You have to do more than just switch over to drinking Diet Coke.
- The Myth:Eating breakfast regularly helps us keep our weight in check.
- The Fact: This is a presumption that has been backed up by only a few, small studies. It hasn’t had enough research behind it to be toted as valid. (Didn’t Special K have a commercial that stated this a while back? It seems they might have a vested interest in seeing that you don’t skip breakfast.)
- The Myth: Eating more fruits and vegetables results in weight loss.
- The Fact: Not automatically. Fruits and vegetables are a great source of fiber, vitamins and nutrients. Unfortunately, just eating them isn’t enough. Fruits and vegetables can be used as a way to supplement higher calorie food (an apple instead of a bag of Doritos for example) but just adding them in to what you are already eating doesn’t do much with regards to weight loss.
- The Myth: Losing large amounts of weight quickly is less healthy than losing small amounts slowly and gradually. Losing too fast results in regaining the original weight and potentially more!
- The Fact: Nope! How annoying is that? We’ve been told that we’ll destroy our bodies if we don’t shed pounds at a slow, steady pace. According to clinical trials, subjects who lost weight rapidly at the beginning of their weight loss regiment were equally as successful as those who did so slowly. Still, most diet plans would probably prefer you lost slowly, so they can keep receiving your payments for longer.
- The Myth: You are genetically predestined to be overweight.
- The Fact: I love the analogy that Quinn offers us for this. “Nature loads the gun. But what we choose to do-or not do-each day “pulls the trigger.” If you were born with wide hips and a tendency to hold all your weight in the bottom, you can’t change that. However, it doesn’t mean you are destined to look like dear old Auntie Adeline, who God love her, had a rump so gargantuan that the neighborhood kids took to calling it “The Spank Bank.” The realization of who you are, and what you can and cannot change about yourself is the first major step we must take towards achieving both physical and mental health.