Diet and Food Myths


Today’s post is Part 1 of a series of Diet Myths Debunked. Here I mean ‘diet,’ in the broad general sense of the food we eat, not necessarily a diet to lose weight.

Diet Myth # 1   Fat is bad for you.
No it is not!

The fact is our body needs fat.

Fats are an important part of a healthy diet.

Fat is a source of energy for the body, it helps the body absorb nutrients, aids in nerve transmissions, and maintains cell membranes.

Fat can become problematic when consumed in excess and is not burned off with activity.

And the type of fat consumed is also a big consideration. Not all fats are created equal. Dieticians tell us it is best to minimize the amount of saturated and Trans fat in our diets.

Monounsaturated fats, so called good fats,  found in things such as nuts, olives, avocados, and olive oil are actually good for us. So too are the polyunsaturated fats (omega-3) found in salmon and fish. So dieticians say we should eat more of these kinds of food.

But you do not need to cut out all fats, nor should you. Fat makes you feel full longer. So if you eat too little fat you may get hungry between meals and then eat more.

Fat is also a binder. It helps hold food together. If you remove fat from food stuffs it falls apart. So something has to be added to those fat free cookies to make them cookies.  Guess what is added!!  SUGAR. Lots and lots of sugar. And sugar can make you gain weight.

Which is worse? Fat? Or sugar? Personally I prefer a little fat. But that is a personal decision. Only you and perhaps your doctor can make that decision.

Also, remember that it is portion size that matters. Moderation is the key.
Diet Myth: Foods Labeled “Lite,” “Low Fat,” or “Fat Free,” Are Healthier
“Fat free” or “Low in Fat” is NOT the same as calorie free.

Often times food products that say, “lite,” “low fat,” or “fat free,” are loaded up with more processed sugars and more processed flour to make up for the fat that has just been removed. Many times low fat  foods have MORE calories than the real thing. 

BUT since the package says, “lite,” “low fat,” or “fat free,” the tendency is to eat more of it (50% more according to research) and so unknowingly we end up consuming far more calories than we think we are. We feel virtious because we eliminated fat, but load up on sugar calories instead.

And we wonder why we can’t lose weight.


Check the nutrition label for calories per serving. The trick here is to be sure to find out how many servings are actually in that package of food. One package may contain 2 or more servings. You have to read the fine print on that Nutrition Label.

All fat has 9 calories per gram.

Multiply the grams of fat indicated on the label by 9 and you will know exactly how many calories from fat you are really getting. Many labels round up or down.

Just remember  fat in and of itself is not the culprit.

DISCLAIMER: The information for this very brief discussion of an extremely complicated topic was gathered from the following sources: WebMDNet Doctor; HealthCastle; Real Simple; and from the books:  Eat Drink and Be Merry by Dr. Dean Erdell  published by Harper Collins 1999; and The Fat Fallacy by Dr. Will Clower published by Three Rivers Press 2003. Please also keep in mind I am not a dietician or a nutritionist. I just love to eat well. And I like to cook. And so I just write a simple blog trying to provide inexpensive yet delicious recipes for you, information about how to survive the recession, and helpful information about food and the joys of eating.

Featured Recipe      Vinegar Chicken

Vinegar? Vinegar and Chicken? Yes. It really works quite well. This recipe comes from Cooking For One Is Fun, by Henery Lewis Creel. All I did was remake it for 3 people.

And best of all it is super simple.

This is what you will need for 3 people:

3 chicken breasts

Flour for dredging

3 tablespoons oil

½ medium onion diced

½ cup vinegar

1 tablespoon sugar

Salt & Pepper to taste

Here is what you do:

Dredge the chicken in the flour, shake off the excess.

Brown the chicken on both sides in the vegetable oil over medium high heat.

Remove the chicken to a casserole and keep warm.

Add the onions to the oil adding a bit more oil if needed. Sauté the onions until they start to brown around the edges.

Now add the vinegar and sugar to the skillet and mix well.

Pour the onion-vinegar mixture over the chciken, season with salt and pepper.

Cover the chciken and simmer over low heat for 20 to 30 minutes till the chicken is cooked through.

NOTES: You can use chicken on the bone  (cheaper) or skinless/boneless as I used here. I have made this recipe both ways. If you use chicken on the bone it will take a little longer to cook. Chicken on the bone tends to have more flavor as the bones add rich flavor to the chicken. But for those who are trying to eat less fat, skinless/boneless is the way to go. For those who want to save money, on the bone may be the better choice.

How long it takes to cook is also a function of how big and thick your chicken is.

I served my Vinegar Chicken with a brown rice pilaf and broccoli with butter, lemon juice, pine nuts, and dried cranberries.


3 chicken breasts                         $2.51

Flour for dredging                        $0.20

3 tablespoons oil                         $0.21

½ medium onion diced                $0.50

½ cup vinegar                            $0.24

1 tablespoon sugar                      $0.02

Salt & Pepper to taste

Total Cost for 3 people = $8.69
Cost per person = $2.89

NOTES: The cost of chicken varied wildly this week from a high of $5.71 a pound to low of 1.98 on sale. If you can afford i.t use a sweet onion such as a Vidalia. But any onion will do.

Till next time, Bon Appetite.  And remember:

It takes seventeen muscles to smile and forty-three to frown. 

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