Commentary by:

Dr. Manuela Pastore

Dietitian, Endocrinology Unit at Humanitas Hospital

The web cannot replace a nutritionist. On the Internet, you can find everything: tips for eating healthy, inspired diets, and eating habits with miraculous effects. A dietitian at the Texas A & M Health Science Center (USA), Lisa Mallonee, explains common false myths seen on the internet relating to diet:  


  • The  gluten in sweets is healthier. False. “Those who suffer from celiac disease, gluten intolerance or those who do not possess healthy eating habits should avoid gluten products. Due to their composition, they often consist of fat or excess sugar,” adds Dr. Manuela Pastore, dietitian at Humanitas Hospital.


  • “Sugar free” and “fat-free” will not make you fat. False. “Even in the case of low-fat products, substances used to replace fats and sugars (additives, emulsifiers, stabilizers …) may not be very healthy and they do not always consist of fewer calories. Moreover, these substances may entice consumers to eat more,” explains the doctor.


  • Carbohydrates make you fat. It depends on the type of carbohydrate. “Carbohydrates are an essential energy source for the body. The problem lies in the type of carbohydrates: overeating refined sugars and processed food contributes to weight gain,” says Mallonee, making an explicit reference to the American diet.


(For further information, click here: Less low-quality carbohydrates for weight loss)  


  • Healthier foods cost more. True, but only in the short run. Buying fast food can save us money, but only in the present. How much you save now, you will pay later with the consequences of an unhealthy lifestyle. However, you can save money by buying fresh food: the secret is to buy fruits and vegetables in season.


  • Eating late at night makes you fat. False. “If you eat a well balanced diet, participate in sports and do not overuse energy-dense foods, then there should be no risk in eating late at night,” notes the expert.


  • Fast to purify. False. Purification cleanses the body. “Diets rich in fibers can help get rid of toxins in the kidneys and liver” says Mallonee. “Not eating can be dangerous.”


  • Energy bars help you lose weight. "I never recommend an energy bar to someone who is trying to lose weight. The content of fat and sugar can be very high,” he concludes. “These bars are recommended for those who participate in strenuous physical activities and they are not appropriate for those who consume them as part of a low-calorie diet or even as a meal replacement,” adds Dr. Shepherd.


(For further information, click here: A diet with too many snacks or too many “lazy foods” –why you are not losing weight)  





Do “gluten-free”, “no sugar” or “fat-free” products hide the consequences?

“Alternative foods, such as low-fat foods or foods with no gluten, can have a very different nutritional composition in comparison to traditional foods because of the difference in their production process. In case of foods with no gluten or no sugar and fat in low-fat foods, we see the replacement of certain ingredients, such as flour derived from wheat, mixed together with other ingredients instead. Often, in order to maintain the organoleptic and rheological properties of the product, several additives are used. These additives appear in the ingredient list and so it is recommended to read the labels carefully and buy products that have a short list of ingredients or products where only known ingredients are indicated.”