In our age of information, it is easy to get confused by conflicting information where your diet is concerned. This short collection of food and dieting myths will set the record straight and will set you on the path for balanced eating.

Myth 1: Foods like celery, cabbage soup and grapefruit can help you burn fat and lose weight.

Fact: No food can burn fat. Caffeine may speed up your metabolism for a short time, but these do not cause weight loss.

Myth 2: Skipping meals is a good way to lose weight.

Fact: People who skip breakfast and eat fewer meals during the day tend to be a bit heavier, according to studies. Why? Skipping meals makes you hungrier than usual, and you would probably eat more than you usually would at your next meal. Your metabolism will also slow down. Eat smaller meals frequently throughout the day, and don’t skip breakfast – it will give your metabolism a kick-start.

Myth 3: Eating healthy is expensive.

Fact: Do the maths; eating more fruit and vegetables instead of fast food, ice cream, sweets and calorie packed beverages will definitely save you money. Not to mention medical bills from diet-related illness!

Myth 4: Nuts are fattening and should be avoided.

Fact: Nuts are high in calories and fat but can be part of a healthy weight loss program. Nuts contain healthy fats and will not clog your arteries, is a good source of protein, fibre, and minerals such as copper and magnesium. Enjoy small portions, not the entire bag! More or less 30-40g nuts is a good serving size.

Myth 5: Low fat or fat free foods are better to consume.

Fact: They may often be lower in calories than the same serving size as a full fat product, but many processed low fat/fat free foods are often higher in sugar, flour and starch thickeners to improve flavour and texture after fat is removed. Three words: Chemical S%#t Storm! Learn how to read labels and decide if a lower fat version is really worth it.

Myth 6: Starches are fattening and should be limited when you want to lose weight.

Fact: Foods high in carbohydrates/starch like bread, rice, pasta, fruit, beans and vegetables like potatoes and yams are low in fat and calories. They become calorie dense when eaten in excess, and topped with high-fat toppings such as butter, sour cream, mayonnaise and other sauces. Complex carbohydrates are necessary for your body to function optimally. A healthy eating plan consists of fruit, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats and food generally low in saturated and trans fats, sodium and added sugars.

Myth 7: I can lose weight by eating what I want.

Fact: To lose weight you need to expend more calories than you take in. It is possible to eat any food you like and lose weight, but portion control is key. Opt for food lower in calories, not forgetting to eat balanced meals.

Myth 8: Eating late at night causes weight gain.

Fact: It doesn’t really matter what time of day you eat. It comes down to what you eat and how much you eat, also how much physical activity you’ve done in a day that determines whether you lose, gain or maintain your weight. Avoid snacking in front of the television, it is easier to overeat when distracted by it.

Lastly, fad diets are not the best way to lose weight and keep it off. They promise quick results and usually restrict certain food groups. They are hard to follow, and most people give up after a short while, gaining all the weight they lost, and possibly even more.

Losing weight by eating balanced meals and building physical activity into your daily routine is the best way to lose weight and keep it off. By adopting a healthy lifestyle and habits, you can also lower your risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure.

To healthy eating!