Discover common misconceptions, truths and more from the food experts. Is a tomato really a fruit? Can you use your hand for measuring ingredients while cooking? We answer these common food myths and cover myths and truth about healthy foods to eat in our version of Myth of Truth.
1. Can you take a break from “Healthy” eating?
Keeping portions in control and eating a variety of foods are good tools to use when planning your meals and trying to find healthy foods to eat. All foods can fit into a healthy meal plan. If you adopt this philosophy, then you really aren’t taking a “break,” you are just making different choices. Check out the Healthy Living Recipes on this site for a variety of delicious and better-for-you meal and snack ideas!
2. Can you measure ½ cup with your hand?
Your hand is, in fact, about ½ cup. This is an easy and convenient way to estimate food portions. If you cup your hand and fill it with chips or pretzels, you are holding about ½ cup. Look at the nutrition facts label to find out what a serving size is and use your hand to help eat the right amount for you. If you portion out snack foods into individual serving size bags, you will have the right serving size ahead of time and for snacks on the go. Explore the Healthy Living Snack section for some new healthy snack ideas.
3. Are tomatoes really a fruit?
Botanically, tomatoes are a fruit. Fruits contain seeds of a plant, except in cases where they have been bred to be seedless, such as grapes and watermelon. The word “vegetable” usually refers to other parts of plants that we eat, including leaves (lettuce), tubers (potatoes), stems (asparagus), bulbs (onions), stalks (celery) and flowers (broccoli). As far as cooking, however, most people use tomatoes as a vegetable because they are not as sweet as other fruits. The US government also classifies tomatoes as a veggie for trading purposes. No matter how you classify them, tomatoes are a delicious addition to your meal plan, especially in summer when they are plentiful and inexpensive. Tomatoes are a good source of vitamins A and C and an excellent source of potassium. To find new ways to enjoy them, check out our article “Bring on the Tomatoes” and other tomato recipes on My Food and Family.
4. Salads are always a smart menu choice when eating out.
A salad may start with the best intentions. But then come the toppings: full-fat dressing, full-fat cheese and bacon bits. Some main dish salads at popular restaurants could have more calories and fat than a burger and fries. Check the nutritional breakdown ahead of time by going to the restaurant’s website nutritional values. Instead, try customizing your salad. Request a reduced-fat dressing and/or ask for the dressing on the side. Instead of ordering all the indulgent toppings, limit them to 1 or 2 and add some lean protein such as chicken, turkey, beans, tofu or salmon. Looking for a restaurant-style salad to enjoy at home? Try the Southwestern Ranch Chicken Salad.
5. Sports drinks are the only way to stay hydrated.
There’s a lot of information in the media on how to stay hydrated. Though it is important to stay hydrated, especially when you are exercising or sweating a lot, you can usually replenish lost fluids with a few cups of plain water and skip the calories in sports drinks. Want something more exciting? Add in CRYSTAL LIGHT Drink Mix or try Mio Electrolytes, a good source of 3 B-vitamins and 0 calories.
6. Carbohydrates such as bread, pasta and rice are fattening. You should avoid them when trying to lose weight.
Carbohydrates themselves are not fattening or unhealthy. Eating more whole grains and those with fiber is a healthier choice that also supports gut health and weight management. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends consuming whole or enriched grains as part of a healthy eating plan. They suggest that at least half of the grains you eat be whole grains. Examples of whole grains include brown rice and whole-wheat bread, cereal and pasta. Whole grains supply iron, B vitamins, fiber and other important nutrients. My Food and Family has recipes using whole grains such as Homemade Pizza with Parmesan that uses whole-wheat flour and No-Bake Homemade Granola Bars that use oatmeal.
We hope these food myths have helped debunk some of the common misconceptions you might have about healthy foods to eat and how to adjust your way of thinking. For more ideas for adding whole grains to your meal plan, be sure to visit Choose My Plate.