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Food Smarts: Myths And Facts

When it comes to food and eating healthy, you probably hear a lot of opinions and "facts" from your parents, friends, relatives, and teachers. This is partly because older people may have grown up when there was different food information out there, and partly because food companies and advertising want you to believe certain things in order to get you to buy their products. Think you're a Food Smartie already? See if you know the truth behind these common myths:

Myth: As long as I skip a meal, I can eat whatever I want at my next meal.

Fact: It's never a good idea to skip a meal, and it won't make up for eating unhealthy foods, or eating too much, the next time you eat. It's important to eat three normal-sized and healthy meals a day, and even a few snacks in between, so your body has energy when it needs it.

Myth: As long as a food package says "all natural" on it, it's healthy to eat.

Fact: Even if something is labeled "all natural," it can still contain tons of sugar, unsaturated fats, or other things that can be bad for you. Some snacks labeled "all natural" can contain just as much fat as a candy bar! It's important to read the BACK of the package, where the Nutrition Facts label and ingredients list will spell it all out for you.

Myth: If I'm not overweight, I don't have to be careful about what I eat.

Fact: Even if you've never had a problem with your weight, it's important to choose healthy foods every day. If you think of your body as a machine, then you'll want to use the very best fuel to keep that machine going strong, and that means staying away from junk food. Also, if you develop poor eating habits now, you could have a lot of problems with your weight and health in the years to come.

Myth: I can sweeten my food as much as I want, as long as I use honey instead of sugar.

Fact: Chemically, honey is almost the exact same thing as sugar, and honey can even have more calories than regular sugar. Just like with sugar, try to use honey only in small amounts.

Myth: As long as I take a vitamin pill every day, I don't need to be careful about what I eat.

Fact: Some nutritionists say that it's a good idea to take vitamin pills, but these pills can't give you everything you need-not by a longshot! Eating healthy foods gives you fiber, protein, energy, and lots of very important things that vitamin pills don't give you. So a vitamin and a bag of chips is still a terrible lunch. Instead, you've got to eat a balanced and nutritious meal.

Myth: Sugar gives you energy. If you need a boost mid-afternoon or before playing sports, eat a candy bar.

Fact: "Simple" sugars like those found in chocolate, cookies, candies, and cakes definitely cause spikes in your blood sugar level, which may make you feel a quick shot of energy in your system. But after that first rush, blood sugar drops sharply, and you'll suddenly feel like you have less energy than when you started!

Myth: Energy bars are a good way to get needed vitamins and minerals.

Fact: Energy bars can be a good source of carbs, protein, and fat, but they can be abused like any other food. Eat too many, and you're doing as much damage to your body as you would eating lots of candy, cake, and cookies. They're no substitute for low-calorie, no-fat snacks like fruit and vegetables, and should only be used occasionally if you're in a pinch.

Myth: Carbs make you fat.

Fact: You may know someone who's on a "low-carb" diet-after all, it's the biggest weight-loss trend out there. These diets try to make people believe that carbs are just plain bad, but the truth is this: carbs, just like sugar and fat, will make you gain weight if you eat too much of them. If you eat them in average, balanced amounts, they're the best source of energy your body can find.

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