10 Nutrition Myths That You Should Ignore

1. Carbohydrates will make you fat FALSE_-_Google_Search

carbs make you fatCarbohydrates have received very bad press in recent years and many popular weight loss diets such as Atkins, South Beach, and Paleo haven’t helped. There is nothing inherently fattening about carbohydrates. They provide the same amount of energy/calories per gram as protein (4kcal per 1g). Eating more calories than you use, regardless of whether they come from protein, fat or carbohydrates, will make you fat.

However, certain types of carbohydrates are less nutritious than others. Consistently loading up on sugary, processed carbohydrates such as fizzy drinks and sweets, white bread and pasta can increase your risk of becoming overweight and developing health conditions such as diabetes and heart disease. But cutting out the so called “good carbs” such as vegetables, whole grains and beans, will mean that you are missing out on your body’s main source of fuel along with all the vitamins, minerals, fibre and whole grains that naturally occur in these foods.

In terms of weight loss, for many people, a low-carb diet may be harder to stick to in the long run and may have no difference in long term weight loss. A recent study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association compared weight loss among overweight and obese adults who were following different popular weight loss diets. The study concluded that significant weight loss was observed with any low-carbohydrate or low-fat diet however, the difference in the amount of weight loss between the diets was small. The paper supports the practice of recommending any diet that a patient will adhere to in order to lose weight. So in terms of weight loss, the best diet is the one you can stick to whether it’s Paleo, South Beach, Atkins etc and in terms of carbohydrates making you pile on the pounds, you should look and the types and amounts of carbohydrates that you’re eating.

2. Drinking lemon water will speed up your metabolism and help you lose weight: FALSE_-_Google_Search

lemon water Drinking lemon water may taste better than regular water but there is no clinical evidence to suggest that lemon water will boost your metabolism. Some caffeine containing foods may speed up your metabolism for a short period of time but this does not cause weight loss. Drinking plenty of water (1.5-2Litres daily) is required for normal bodily function and will help you to regulate your appetite, which of course can play a role in weight loss, and prevent constipation. For a little flavour boost, some lemon can be used. More accepted ways of speeding up your metabolism include: eating regular low fat, high fibre meals; being more physically active and including weight based/resistance exercise in your weekly physical activity (at least twice a week).

3. Eggs are bad for you: FALSE_-_Google_Search

eggsThis is one of the worst nutrition myths out there because eggs contain a huge range of vitamins and minerals, some of which are otherwise difficult to source from the diet. A perfect example is vitamin D, with the majority of the Irish population lacking in this fat-soluble vitamin. The Irish Adult Nutrition Survey reported a mean daily intake in Irish men and women  (18 – >65 years ) of 4.3mcg when the recommended daily requirement is 10mcg! The yolk of a single boiled egg will provide you with 10% of your daily vitamin D requirements. It is important to note that almost all of these vitamins and minerals are found in the yolk of the egg as the white of an egg is purely protein. The white of an egg contains an excellent quality protein and is deemed one of the best in terms of biological value. Biological value is the amount of protein absorbed from the source. In recent years, eggs have been accused of contributing to cardiovascular disease because of their saturated fat content. In fact, eggs primarily raise the “good” cholesterol and are NOT associated with increased risk of heart disease. A meta-analysis published in 2013 showed that higher consumption of eggs (up to one egg per day) is not associated with increased risk of coronary heart disease in otherwise healthy individuals. It is always best to purchase free range eggs and if you can, Omega-3 enriched are the most nutritious. In terms of weight management, a study published in the International Journal of Obesity concluded that the inclusion of eggs in the diet may offer a nutritious supplement to enhance weight loss.

4. Fresh fruit and vegetables are better than frozen or tinned vegetables: FALSE_-_Google_Search

freshvsfrozenBy the time fruit and vegetables are consumed at home, whether fresh or frozen, the nutrient content is similar or more nutritious in frozen fruit and veg when compared to fresh. Frozen vegetables are frozen within hours of being picked during their peak time of freshness and nutrition. The method of cooking however will determine how you get the most from these foods. Avoid boiling your vegetables where you can, as water-soluble vitamins can leak out of the foods into the water that you ultimately dispose of.

5. Eating after 7pm will make you fat: FALSE_-_Google_Search

eating late There is absolutely no evidence for this. Calories are calories and it doesn’t matter what time you eat them. What is important is the total amount of calories you eat vs. the total amount of calories you use/burn in a given day, not the time of day you eat those calories. Eating any extra calories above what you need may be stored as fat regardless of the time of day they are consumed.

6. Low fat products are always the best products to buy: FALSE_-_Google_Search

fatfreeThere are lots of low fat products on the market that are healthy to eat in moderation and that will be very helpful in weight management but you need to be aware that once fat is removed or reduced, taste is affected. To compensate for taste, a lot of low fat products will have added artificial sweeteners or added sugar, which of course increases the calorie content of the food. The terms “fat free” or “0% fat”, on a label does not necessarily mean that an item is healthy. Check the label before you buy a low fat product and pay attention to the sugar content per 100g. Use the guide below to help choose a low sugar product:

  • LOW SUGAR: No more than 5g of sugars/100g (solid foods) or 2.5g of sugars/100ml (liquids).
  • HIGH SUGAR: Greater or equal to 10g of sugars/100g for solids or liquids.

 Find a happy medium between these two amounts, favouring the lower end of the scale.

7. Red meat is bad for you:FALSE_-_Google_Search

MEAT_IS_BAD_FOR_YOU_-_Google_SearchThe World Health Organisation has stated that high consumption of red meat and especially processed meats are associated with an increased risk of stomach and colorectal cancer and this has perhaps contributed to the myth that red meat is bad for you. When eaten in moderation and as part of a healthy diet, lean cuts of red meat are an excellent source of high quality protein, B vitamins, fat-soluble vitamins and haem iron, which is the most easily absorbed type of iron from the diet. Iron is essential for circulating oxygen around all of the cells in your body. When you are in the supermarket shopping for red meat, pick meats that are deep red with a small amount of marbling/fat (little bits of white amongst the red).

8. Gluten will make you put on weight and so you should follow a gluten free dietFALSE_-_Google_Search

gfOnly one in 100 Irish people will suffer from coeliac disease which requires a life-long gluten free diet. For these people, removing gluten from their diet will make them feel better and more energetic but only because they were sick from being unable to digest the gluten protein before. Individuals who do not have medical needs to avoid gluten shouldn’t feel the same benefit if they remove gluten from their diet. If you think about it logically, coeliac disease is an autoimmune condition where the body cannot digest gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye and barley; it’s marked by damage to the small intestine that leads to deficiencies because nutrients cannot be absorbed. Malabsorption of nutrients would mean that those nutrients are not metabolized and so those calories are not absorbed, resulting is weight loss (not weight gain), one of the symptoms of coeliac disease. Gluten free foods are quite expensive and so unless medically indicated, there is no need to spend excess money on foods that will give you no nutritional benefit.

On another note, just because a food claims to be “gluten free” this does not mean it is healthier or is low in calories. in fact, many gluten free products have extra sugar added to compensate for their taste and texture. Many celebrities, such as Miley Cyrus, have followed a gluten free diet and have praised it for helping them shed the pounds. It is not the gluten protein itself that will cause weight loss, it is limiting your diet. If you want to lose weight you shouldn’t eliminate an entire nutrient like gluten and it’s associated food group. Save your money and concentrate on including 60-75mins a day of moderate exercise and creating a calorie deficit, while eating real foods and proper portion sizes. If you feel that you are gluten intolerant or think that you may have coeliac disease, don’t self-diagnose. Get a nutritionist or dietitian involved to ensure you are not at risk of nutritional inadequacies.

9. Microwaves kill all nutrients: FALSE_-_Google_Search

microwavesAll forms of cooking reduce nutrient values in foods. The longer and hotter you cook a food, the more you’ll lose certain heat and water sensitive nutrients, especially if you add water, as water-soluble vitamins can leak out of the food. Vitamin C and some B vitamins (thiamin) are particularly sensitive. Microwave cooking often cooks foods more quickly so it can actually help to minimize nutrient losses. A review published in the Journal of Nutrition Health and Food in 2009 showed that the greatest losses were with boiling or pressure cooking foods. If you are microwaving foods, do not microwave your food in plastic containers unless they specifically state that they are microwave safe. This is because some harmful chemical compounds may leak into your foods when heated. Also be aware that microwaves can cook foods unevenly so you should stir your food while cooking it and use a microwave with a rotating shelf.

10. It is important to regularly detox by fasting or by juicingFALSE_-_Google_Search

fastingYour body has its own system specifically designed to remove toxins—namely, the liver, kidneys and spleen. There is no evidence to say that fasting or consuming only juice for a period of time makes them do this job any better. Juicing or detoxing are very strict regimes and usually limit individuals to consuming fruit and vegetables only. There is a danger that if followed long term you may miss out on important nutrients that are found in all of the foods you are limiting, risking nutritionally inadequacies. Side effects from fasting or juicing include fatigue, weakness, dizziness and constipation. Juicing is not recommended for weight loss as it does not teach individuals how to make healthy food choices necessary for long-term weight loss. the truth is, the faster you lose weight, the more likely it is water-weight and thus the quicker it’s regained.

Healthy Banana Ice-Cream


This is one of my favorites. It might sound a bit odd but it is the PERFECT substitute for a bowl of ice-cream when you’re craving something sweet:

164kcal/serving and 3.5g of fat/serving (with no toppings) vs. 270kcal/serving and 17g of fat if you were to go for a small bowl of vanilla Häagen-Dazs ice-cream.

The base for this recipe is frozen bananas. I’ve added 2 teaspoons of crunchy peanut butter this time to the frozen bananas but you can add whatever toppings you like. Just remember, the more toppings you add, the more calories the recipe will add up too.

Ingredients : Serves 2

100ml of any reduced fat milk, I chose Avonmore fortified slimline milk (40kcal/100ml serving)

2 medium frozen bananas   (105kcal/serving)

2 teaspoons of Peanut butter (59kcal/10g) – The best peanut butter to use is the Meridian brand as the only ingredients are dry roasted peanuts and salt. If you look at commercial peanut butter there are usually a lot of sugar, preservatives and palm oil added. Unfortunately all that was in the press was Kelkin but it will do for now.

5g Cacao nibs (19kcal/5g) – Not everyone will have cacao nibs in their pantry but I like the crunch they give and their bitter taste. If you don’t have cacao nibs you can try the optional toppings listed below or just have the recipe plain.

Other toppings suggestions:

  • Frozen Mixed berries – 80g (26kcal/80g)
  • 10g Cocoa powder – The best to use is unsweetened (23kcal/10g) but I use Options Belgian hot chocolate cocoa powder (40kcal/10g)
  • Chopped almonds / walnuts (Per 10g approx: 63kcal; 6g fat; 2g protein)


  • Peel 2 medium bananas and freeze overnight.
  • Once bananas are frozen, take them out of the freezer and place into your blender with peanut butter and milk. I use the Nutribullet but I have also tried this recipe in my cheap, 15 euro blender from Argos and it worked perfectly.
  • 20150109_210025
    20150109_210232Blend to the consistency that you like. I try to get it as close as possible to the consistency of ice-cream, takes about 2mins in the Nutribullet, but if you like it more runny, you can add some more low-fat milk.


  • Serve immediately with a choice of toppings. I’ve listed my favourite toppings above and the calorie content per one serving.

Nutritional information per serving (recipe serves 2):

164kcal; 32g carbs; 3.5g fat; 4.5g protein; 3.7g dietary fiber.

 This recipe is low-fat, high in dietary fiber and a good source of potassium.


Introduction to the Irish Healthy Eating Guidelines

new year, new meNearly half of Irish people plan to make a New Year’s resolution with health, weight loss and well-being top of their list of aspirations, according to a new Ipsos MRBI poll undertaken on behalf of Motivation Weight Management (MWM). Listening to the talk around the office this week I can see that statistic in action. The buzz words in the canteen are “paleo”, juicing, “carb free”, dairy free and gluten free.






While it is absolutely fantastic to have health at the top of your agenda, I think first and foremost you need to understand what it is to eat healthy so that you can then feel empowered to make healthier choices for yourself rather than relying on a temporary diet for guidance. Instead of reading magazines and becoming an expert on fad diets, why not have a look at what the healthy eating guidelines are and become an expert at maintaining a well balanced diet combined with an active lifestyle. Once you have done that there should be no need for you to banish food groups, take nutritional supplements or to drink a vat of lemon water every morning with a spoonful of cider vinegar to “kick start your metabolism”.

I am not condemning a gluten or dairy free diet if that is what suits you, or of course if it is medically indicated. I am rather advocating a sustainable, inclusive diet that does not risk nutrient inadequacies by excluding food groups or does not require you to spend extortionate amounts of money on gluten-free foods, organic foods or food alternatives. If you are on a weight loss diet you might be interested to know that in future blog posts I will go into the scientific evidence for the different weight loss/health diets that are popular in the media and the benefits or disadvantages of each.

Healthy eating guidelines are developed to explain how to get all of the essential nutrients such as fat, protein, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals in the correct amount to maintain optimum health. In Ireland, the Food Pyramid is used to communicate the healthy eating guidelines developed for the healthy Irish population, with the most up to date version published by the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) in 2012. Following the Food Pyramid as a guide will help you get the right balance of nutritious foods within an appropriate calorie range for your age, gender and physical activity level.

The Food Pyramid


How many calories do you need a day?

Your daily calorie requirement will depend on your age, body size, gender and the intensity of activity that you do each day. For example, men will generally need more calories than women, taller/bigger people will require more calories than smaller people and of course younger people will also need more calories and nutrients than older people, especially during growth spurts. Have a look at the table below to find out what calorie range you are in.




NOTE: If you are looking to lose weight, you should include at least 60-75 minutes of moderate activity every day. I will write about weight loss in the coming weeks.

Following the Food Pyramid serving recommendations will help you to eat within your calorie range as well as providing you with the correct amount of nutrients (this excludes those who are pregnant, breastfeeding or who are sick). Have a look at the table below to see how many servings/day of each food group you require:

Serving sizesDaily serving sizes


For reduced fat spreads and oils, the recommended portion size is a single serving size that you would be given in a café. Use one packet for two slices of bread.

200ml cup

The FSAI recommend the use of a 200ml disposable plastic cup to guide you in the serving sizes, examples of servings below use this 200ml cup as a measure. There is no harm in having one of these in your kitchen to help you measure out your servings.

palm of hand

For meats, fish and poultry, it is recommended to use the palm of your hand, excluding finders and thumb, to guide you in a serving size for the day. Most of this sizing should be used as your main meal, with the remainder for your light meal.



A regular 5ml teaspoon should be used as a serving size for jams, marmalade, peanut butter or honey.



The Food Pyramid Groups

  • High fat, high sugar foods: Foods in this group are your sweets, cakes and biscuits. We all know that we should limit consuming from this category as these foods are high in calories, fat, salt and sugar. Excessive consumption of these foods can contribute to cardiovascular disease, overweight and obesity along with the associated consequences.
  • Reduced fat spreads and oils: Fats are necessary in the diet in small amounts. All types of fats and oils are very high in calories. While it is true that some fats and oils help to protect against heart disease, they are just as high in calories as other more harmful fats and oils. Choose reduced fat monounsaturated and polyunsaturated spreads and when cooking boil, bake, steam or grill your foods.
  • Protein: Protein is needed to maintain the body and support growth. Lean red meat and poultry and oily fish are the best options. Oily fish is a rich source of vitamin D and is the only food that provides two special Omega-3 fatty acids called EPA and DHA. EPA and DHA protects against heart disease. DHA is also important during pregnancy for the baby’s brain and eye development. The best types of oily fish are salmon, mackerel, herring and trout.


  • Dairy: Milk, yoghurt and cheese provide protein and calcium which is needed alongside vitamin D for good bone health. As products from this group can be quite high in saturated fat, it is better to choose low fat varieties of milk, cheeses and yoghurts, with no added sugar.


  • Fruits and vegetables: these are nutritious low-fat, low-calorie foods and eating more helps to achieve the nutrient intakes within the calorie goals. This is the one group where MORE is better!


  • Carbohydrates: These foods should provide the main source of calories and carbohydrates in the daily diet. It is recommended that 45 to 65% of daily calories should come from carbohydrates. Brown is best – Choose wholemeal where possible. High fibre foods help protect against bowel diseases such as colon cancer.


General tips for Eating Healthy:

  • keep-calm-and-eat-healthy-22Portion sizes – watch that you are not overeating. Use the portion size reference given above for the different food groups as a guide.
  • Variety makes things interesting so make sure you have lots of choice of foods from the five groups.
  • Plain wholemeal breads, cereals, pasta, potatoes and rice provide the best calories for a healthy weight. Base your meals on these with plenty of fruit, vegetables and salad.
  • Eat plenty of coloured fruit, salad and vegetables – Aim for at least 5 a day.
  • Choose lean meat and poultry including fish (oily fish is best). Remember, peas, beans lentils are a good alternative source of protein
  • Read your food labels – I will post on this next week so you can easily read food labels and understand what you are putting in your shopping basket
  • Don’t be distracted while you are eating, e.g. watching TV, pay attention to when you are full. You don’t HAVE to clear the plate.
  • Drink plenty of water, 8-10 200ml cups of per day (1.5-2Litres of water today) and more if you are exercising. This will keep you hydrated and ensure that your body does not think it is hungry when it is just thirsty.
  • Be physically active! Find something that you love to do – walking your dog, swimming, a team sport.
  • Always have breakfast – Those who eat breakfast regularly are more likely to snack less throughout the day and are more likely be a healthy weight.
  • Drink alcohol in moderation! I will write a post on what ‘moderate alcohol consumption’ is very soon.

In the next few weeks I will be following up this post with advice on calorie consumption, portion control, how to read food labels, exercise recommendations, sports nutrition and I will also start a specific page on weight loss. The healthy eating guidelines and serving sizes above are suitable for everyone including those who are overweight.

Hopefully you found this introduction to healthy eating helpful! If you are interested in reading more of more posts pop your email address in the bar below to receive a notification when a new post is published on à la Maude.



Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) 2011: Scientific Recommendations for healthy Eating Guidelines in Irealand.


Healthy Eating and Active Living for Adults, Teenagers and Children over 5 Years– A Food Guide for Health Professionals and Catering Services