MYTH: Freshly squeezed juice is a healthy option
You might be surprised to learn that a 600ml bottle of fruit juice contains about 16 teaspoons of sugar, which is the same mount found in an equal sized bottle of cola! This amount of sugar is well over the seven teaspoons that the World Health Organization recommends as a daily upper limit. But how can that be? When you juice fresh fruit, you squeeze all the sugar into a glass and throw out the fibre – which is the best part as it helps keep our digestive system healthy. You also tend to use a lot more fruit than you would typically eat.
Sugary drinks like juice can be especially problematic as they are often consumed between meals and sipped on over a longer period of time. This means our saliva doesn’t have a chance to do its normal job of repairing the teeth between sugary hits.
The bacteria in our mouth converts this sugar hanging around into acid that damages teeth – this is called dental decay and is what makes cavities that eventually need to be filled.
Fortunately, dental decay is preventable! Eating well, making smart drink choices and having good dental hygiene will go a long way to keeping your mouth healthy. While a small serve of juice (half a cup or less) is okay to include occasionally, the best drink choices are ordinary or sparkling water, plain reduced-fat milk, tea, and coffee.
MYTH: The health food aisle is full of healthy food
While the use of clever marketing on food labels is nothing new, the health food aisle adds another layer of confusion for consumers. Much like the lunchbox aisle, the health food section contains packaged and processed snack foods that use clever marketing to make them appear healthier than they are. Manufacturers know their claims around low fat, no added sugar, and general ‘naturalness’, coupled with the health food aisle location, make consumers much more likely to buy these products. But are these more hype than health?
All packaged and processed foods produced in Australia feature a Nutrition Information Panel (NIP), which shows exactly what is contained within. Use our wallet card (pictured) to navigate nutrition labels and uncover the yoghurt-covered fruit snacks which are no better than a block of chocolate, or those natural bliss balls which are equivalent to Oreos. When it comes to popular health food options, you might be surprised by how much hidden sugar you find!
Whole foods that are not processed and packaged are usually better for your health, your pocket, and the environment, so aim to limit how many packets there are in your shopping basket or trolley. When you reach for packaged foods, ignore the front of the label and head straight to the back to find out if their claims of health are real or just a fable.
MYTH: Cutting out food groups is good for my health
Sugar, carbs, gluten, dairy – there are so many diets around that recommend cutting out food groups, but do any of them actually help us stay healthy or happy?
Diets that promise to improve physical and mental wellbeing by cutting something out are popular because they seem easier to stick to in the short-term. If all you have to do is avoid certain types of food, it can seem like a simple fix. In the long run, eliminating food groups, fasting, or drastically reducing overall intake is hard to maintain and typically doesn’t lead to positive health outcomes. Research continually shows that restrictive ways of eating can be linked with negative health outcomes and can create anxiety in social situations where it is important to enjoy eating a variety of foods with your friends and family.
Try to ignore the hype around fad diets and quick fixes and just focus on eating a variety of healthy, whole foods. It might not be insta-worthy but reaching for foods from the five core food groups is the best way to maximise your health and wellbeing.
When it comes to kids, cutting out foods can make it far more difficult for fussy eaters to accept trying new things. Whether it is the calcium from dairy and dairy alternatives, or the fibre and vitamins from wholegrains, kids should be offered plenty of foods from the core food groups to get the best out of their growth and development.
Remember to role model healthy habits by eating a wide variety of foods too.
MYTH: Reduced fat dairy has added sugars and less nutrients that full fat varieties
Contrary to popular belief, reduced-fat dairy products do not contain added sugars. In fact, dairy products, whether reduced fat or full fat, all have a similar sugar content per 100ml.
Even though the percentage of total fat has been removed from reduced-fat dairy, this does not mean other nutrients have been jeopardised in the process. Have a look at the calcium and protein per 100ml below – reduced fat comes out on top!
Be careful of products like fruit flavoured yoghurts or store-bought flavoured milk where the sugar starts to creep in.
If dairy products are not an option, the best substitutes are unsweetened milk or yoghurt alternatives that have at least 100mg of calcium added per 100ml. There are plenty of options available in both the long life and fridge section of the supermarket.