Whether you’re looking after your ‘summer body’ or you’ve just returned from a week of holiday-induced indulgence, you may be paying extra attention to your food choices. But with a new diet cropping up every week, it can be tricky to know your enemy from your friend when it comes to deciding what to eat.
Bread has been the latest victim in the diet conversation, with many demonising it in the struggle against weight loss. To help set the record straight, Dietician Lucy Jones busts four common nutrition myths to help you make the right choices.
Myth: Carbohydrates are fattening
Truth: “Carbohydrates have been labelled the weight loss enemy in recent times due to popular diets such as Atkins, The South Beach or the Paleo diet,” says Lucy. “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: Try to make small sustainable changes to your lifestyle and increase the amount of activity you do. A couple of slices of bread for breakfast or lunch (at 80 calories a slice) is a quick and satisfying meal option. And to bring sandwiches back into fashion, take your lunch in one of the stylish Hemsley Slice clutch bags.
Myth: Bread contains 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,” Lucy explains.
“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 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 answer to diet advice. “While some people lose weight better by eating less on certain days, others benefit from having small regular meals through the day,” says Lucy.
Breakfast helps us with concentration, energy levels and nutrition. Studies show that skipping breakfast is linked to worse health outcomes, even weighing more.
Tip: A great breakfast for weight loss is 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: It’s true that for some, specific foods can lead to bloating. But for many, symptoms can be worsened by erratic eating habits, smoking or drinking vast quantities of coffee or alcohol.
Tip: Lucy comments: “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.”
To find out more about bread and health visit www.sliceoflife.org.uk