Women's Mini Marathon Nutrition Tips- Week 4 | St. James's Hospital Foundation Women's Mini Marathon Nutrition Tips- Week 4 | St. James's Hospital Foundation

Women’s Mini Marathon Nutrition Tips- Week 4

Week 4: Food Facts or Facts Myths


Over the previous newsletters we have discussed healthy eating and drinking leading up to the Big Day! Nowadays there are many misconceptions regarding food and diet. There are countless sources of dietary information available at our fingertips, but often with varying levels of evidence-based research and providing conflicting messages. This week we will help to clarify a number of these common misconceptions and separate the food facts from the food myths.


Getting 5-a-day doesn’t have to be expensive. Fact

It doesn’t have to be expensive. You can keep the costs down by buying canned fruit and veg, which doesn’t go off as quickly. Choose canned fruit in its own juice – it’s healthier than fruit in sugary syrup. Or try canned veg in water with no added salt or sugar.


Frozen is even handier, as you can use what you need and put it back in the freezer! And buying fresh fruit and veg when it’s in season is usually cheaper too. Local markets can be great places to pick up fresh and tasty produce at really good prices. Just add a portion of vegetables into your go-to dishes. Try spinach with pasta or peppers in tacos. Pack your child’s lunch bag with fruits and veggies: sliced apples, a banana or carrot sticks are all healthy options. You’ll hit your 5-a-day before you know it.

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The salt we add at the table is most of the salt we eat.  Myth

You may think so, but actually 75% of the salt in our diet comes from processed foods. Just 10-15% comes from the salt we add when we’re cooking or at the table. To be healthier and have a diet lower in salt, we need to cut this down to no more than 6g of salt a day for anyone over 11 years. To really cut down, you need to become aware of the salt that is already in the everyday foods you buy, and choose lower-salt options. Look at the figure for salt per 100g:

  • High is more than 1.5g salt (0.6g sodium) per 100g. These foods may be colour-coded red.
  • Low is 0.3g salt (0.1g sodium) or less per 100g. These foods may be colour-coded green.

Good-Quality Carbohydrate Foods May Foster Weight Control. Fact

Eating fewer carbohydrates may produce weight loss, but including certain carbohydrate-containing foods actually helps promote a healthy weight, according to the Harvard School of Public Health. Whole grains, such as brown rice, are digested more slowly than refined grains such as white rice, possibly preventing hunger. And a New England Journal of Medicine study found that adults who increased their intake of whole grains, whole fruits and vegetables over the course of 20 years gained less weight than those who didn’t.

Instead of avoiding carb-containing foods, it’s better to get into the habit of eating healthier choices.


Detox diets are good for you? Myth

Detox diets can often have some nasty side effects. Following a strict detox diet for more than a few days may lead to nutritional deficiencies. Many detox diets recommend cutting out dairy foods which means you are missing out on calcium containing foods putting you at risk for osteoporosis. It is recommended that we eat three portions of dairy products every day to maintain healthy bones. Side effects often experienced while on a detox diet include feeling tired, headaches, light-headedness and nausea. These symptoms are often usually caused by a lack of food as detox diets are often low in calories. This lack of food can lead to cravings for high sugar and high fat foods which can knock you off your diet and do a lot of damage in a short space of time


Grapefruit helps burn off fat. Myth

Grapefruit does not “burn off fat”. The only way to lose weight is to reduce calorie intake, preferably combined with increased exercise. Grapefruit however, is very low in calories and can be eaten freely by those wanting to lose weight.


Margarine contains fewer calories than butter. Myth

Margarine contains the same amount of fat as butter (80%) and so the same calories. Only spreads labelled “low in fat” or “light” contain less fat and calories.


Experts are recommending reducing your intake of added sugar. Fact

Recent evidence has linked a high intake of added sugars to an increase in body weight. Growing evidence suggests that drinking sugar sweetened drinks is linked with increased risk of Type 2 Diabetes and other chronic diseases including high blood pressure, high cholesterol and coronary heart disease (CHD). There is also strong evidence linking the intake of added sugars to tooth decay.


Frying in vegetable oil is less fattening than frying in lard or dripping. Myth

Vegetable oil, lard and dripping all contain equal amounts of fat and therefore equal calories. Polyunsaturated or monounsaturated oils (e.g. corn oil, olive oil, sunflower oil, rapeseed oil) contain a better type of fat than lard or vegetable oils but they are equally fattening.


Fish improves heart health – Fact

Fish is a rich source of protein and many of the vitamins and minerals that you need for good health. Oily fish is a rich source of Omega 3 fats which help reduce your risk of heart disease and help to keep your brain healthy into old age. Examples of oily fish include; salmon, sardines, mackerel and trout. Fish also contains Vitamin D which helps you to absorb the calcium from your food improving bone health.


Next time, we will consolidate the information we have covered so far and focus on some last minute tips before the Big Day!


Read our previous nutrition and fitness blogs:

Week 1: Healthy eating- getting to grips with the basics

Week 1: Getting started (fitness)

Week 2: Carbohydrates – Fuel for Sport

Week 2: Warm Up, Stretching, and Cool down

Week 3: How to minimise the risk of injury

Week 4: Staying Motivated