Nutrition Myths

By: Leslee Blanch, RD, LD, Family Consumer Science Associate Extension Educator, University of Idaho Bonneville County Extension

Deciphering Facts From Fads

Sifting through nutrition information can be challenging, to say the least. Keep in mind that diets which promote the following principles are not based on fact, but rather on “fad”:

Myth 1: Rapid weight loss with extreme dietary restrictions.

FACT: A healthy rate of weight loss ranges from 1-2 pounds/week. More rapid weight loss is more difficult to keep off, and can initially include a significant amount of water weight. Extreme restrictions are difficult to sustain in a life-long eating pattern, and thus when previous eating patterns are resumed, lost pounds return (often bringing more pounds with them!) Extreme dietary restrictions can result in loss of muscle mass, excessive hunger, and nutrient deficiencies.

Myth 2: Avoid ALL grain products to lose weight.

FACT: Whole grains can be part of a balanced, weight-loss diet pattern. Whole grains are a primary source of energy and B vitamins for energy metabolism, minimizing fatigue. They provide fiber to help with satiety, balance rapid changes in blood sugar, and promote digestive health.

Myth 3: Skip meals to help with weight loss.

FACT: Research shows that skipping meals may actually result in weight gain. Skipping meals can slow down metabolism as our bodies temporarily go into “starvation mode”, conserving energy until fed again. Small frequent meals/snacks can stave off excessive hunger that often leads to overeating. Make sure meal and snack choices include “real” food:  Whole grains, fruits, vegetables, protein (including nuts and legumes), and dairy, as tolerated. Listen to your hunger cues: Are you eating because the clock says it’s time, out of stress or boredom, or because you are truly hungry?  Learn to “tune in” to satiety cues and only eat until comfortably full—not “stuffed”.  Slowing the rate of food consumption by chewing thoroughly and putting down utensils between bites helps avoid overeating and increases the enjoyment of our meals.


Utilizing the “Healthy Plate” model can control portions and support a balanced diet. Filling half your plate with vegetables and fruits, one fourth with lean protein, and one fourth with whole grains, adding dairy on the side, is a wonderful start to nutrition habits that can promote weight loss and maintenance and support lifelong sustainable eating patterns. Limiting or avoiding refined grains and high-sugar products will decrease unnecessary calorie intake.  Remember that regular physical activity can balance appetite, improve bone and muscle strength, balance moods, and assist in healthy sleep habits, all of which can play a role in weight management.

  • Jackie Amende, MS, RDN, LD, Family Consumer Science Extension Educator, University of Idaho
  • Laura Andromalos, MS, RD, CSOWM, CDE, Northwest Weight and Wellness Center, Everett, Washington