07/15/2014 05:53 EDT | Updated 09/14/2014 05:59 EDT

Six Nutrition Myths to Toss in the Garbage

Plain and simple, there are certain questions that I get a whole lot from clients. Just to set the record straight, I don't mind answering any question, even if you think it's stupid, my feeling is that you can't know some things unless you ask, and nutrition can be a very confusing topic with all the information floating around out there.

Some questions, however, just need to die already. There are a lot of people who have no nutrition training, yet somehow manage to burn nonsensical ideas into peoples' brains -- and that's how the questions below are born.

If I eat after 6 p.m., is the food going straight to my ass?

No. Have you ever gone to dinner in Europe? If you walk into a restaurant in Italy or Spain before 10 p.m., there's no one there, because it's still too early for them to eat. Yet people in both those countries are nowhere near as obese as the people in North America.

Your metabolic rate does lower slightly while you sleep, but not significantly enough that you are going to go up a pants size if you have a snack before bed. I see clients who go to bed hungry because about 10 years ago, Oprah said on her show that she doesn't eat after 6. Since when did Oprah know anything about nutrition?

I'm a vegetarian. Why am I gaining weight?

You're probably eating too much. Meat doesn't make people gain weight, eating too much food overall, and eating too much crap do. Lots of crappy food is vegetarian -- chocolate bars, French fries, McDonald's milkshakes. Eliminating meat from your diet is not going to magically make you lose weight. Actually, you can gain weight easily by going vegetarian, since cutting out meat and fish means you're cutting out several high quality protein sources, which play a major role in satiety. Make sure you fill the protein void with beans and lentils, tofu, Greek yogurt, and quinoa. Here is an amazing chart of all the vegetarian protein sources and how much protein they contain. Avoid excessive amounts of cheese and nuts, which are vegetarian and considered to be sources of protein, but are really high in fat and calories and can add up quickly when you're depending on them for all your protein needs.

Celery and Grapefruit Are Negative Calorie Foods -- I can eat as much as I want, right?

What? A negative calorie food is a food that supposedly takes more calories for the body to burn off, than it contains. The Internet is full of negative calorie websites, complete with comment sections that contain entertaining spelling mistakes such as "stomac" and "artikle," and claims such as "an apple contains 100 calories and takes 120 calories to digest." Um, If it sounds too good to be true, it's too good to be true.

Does lemon water help flush your organs out and detox your body?

This persistent one angers me. Not only is it untrue, but my friend who is a dentist tells me that he is seeing a lot people with eroded tooth enamel from all the lemon water they're drinking.

Drinking lemon water in the morning adds more acid to your empty stomach, which can cause you to have a gut ache. Moreover, there is nothing miraculous about lemon, especially on the 'detox' front. Drink a glass of lemon water in the morning if you must, but chase it with a glass of plain water to rinse the acid off your teeth. Don't brush your teeth right after drinking lemon water, which will grind the acid further into the tooth enamel, eroding it more.

I'm eating multigrain bread, that's so much better than white bread, right?

Possibly, but it depends on which bread you're choosing. "Multigrain" means that it contains multiple grains, and that's about it. Theoretically, that could mean anything from a teaspoon of wheat and rye flours in a sea of white flour, or it could be a nice high fiber loaf of bread. The claim of multigrain doesn't mean whole grain, which should be the first ingredient in your bread.

Besides checking the ingredient list to see that "whole grain" is there front and centre, you should also check to see if you recognize the ingredients in your bread. Most commercially prepared breads are full of preservatives and low on nutrients such as fibre. You want a bread with the fewest ingredients, the most fiber, and the least sugar. Brown bread is much the same. The brown colour may come from molasses added to the bread, not wholesome grains as the bread maker would have you believe. Again, check the labels.

I had the biggest meal last night, I think I gained five pounds! That's possible, right?

Not exactly, so relax. Your body doesn't work like that. Weight is gained in small increments over days and weeks, not in one meal or one day. Be a repeat offender, however, and that duck fat poutine is going to end up as a nice layer of insulation for you, right in time for Fall.

After a huge, fatty meal, your body has to deal with the fallout. This means that you'll likely retain water from the salt, your intestines will struggle to push all of that fat through, slowing digestion and making you bloated.

The best thing you can do after you blew the doors off eating six plates of chicken balls at the Mandarin Buffet is drink lots of water, and eat as healthy as possible in the following days -- lots of fresh, unprocessed food to be specific. A workout will help sweat out some extra fluids and get things moving along in your gut. Don't forget how disgusting you feel -- this might help prevent future splurges (or at least, too frequent splurges).

If you enjoyed this blog post, you'll probably like my Eight Nutrition Trends This Dietitian Hates. Click here to read.


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