“Should I Scoop Out My Bagel?” and Other Nutrition Myths Debunked

When I was asked to endorse the book Should I Scoop Out My Bagel? I was hesitant at first. I couldn’t believe that co-authors Ilyse Schapiro, M.S., R.D., CDN, and Hallie Rich could come up with close to 100 nutrition and fitness myths. After reviewing it, I was pleasantly surprised by their answers to all the common nutrition myths I’ve been hearing for years! I recently spoke with Ilyse and Hallie about their newly released book and why there’s so much misinformation about nutrition out there.

What prompted you to write Should I Scoop Out My Bagel?

Ilyse Schapiro and Hallie Rich: With so much information and so many “rules” out there, we wanted to give people the tools they needed to sort through the BS and to know what is truly important and actually relevant to their lives. We knew people (including ourselves) were inundated by all of the information from traditional media, the Web and social media, and understand how people can become confused by the information overload and the contradictory messages.

Our goal was to answer the questions we get asked repeatedly (whether in professional or personal settings), making sure to keep it light and entertaining.

You cover many popular nutrition myths in your book. What is the top myth(s) that folks have been most surprised about?

IS and HR: Number one is that all green juices are healthy. Just because a juice is green doesn’t automatically make it healthy or low in calories. Some can really pack in the sugar, especially store-bought brands. The front of the label may state there is no sugar added, but who needs to add sugar when you’re already maxing out? This juice, like many others, also has 0 grams of dietary fiber. That’s because the process of blending your greens into liquid usually rids them of their fiber. Without it, you may not stay full for as long, since you are drinking your veggies and not eating them. To make these juices taste good, many also add in fruit. While fruit is natural and healthy, too much of it adds up in the calories and sugar department. If you want to get your greens, the best way is to eat them and not drink them. You will get more of the nutrients, and feel more satisfied from physically chewing your food.

Number two is that you need to do a cleanse. Your liver, kidneys and digestive system work their magic daily to rid the body of toxins and oxidants, so there is no need to do a “cleanse.” Cleanses can be expensive and devoid of nutrients. Since they count on no or low intake of food, they can be dangerous and leave you lightheaded, moody, malnourished and unable to focus. Once you reintroduce real food back into your diet when the cleanse is over, it’s very likely that you will put the weight back on. It’s also a very big possibility that you will return to your normal (perhaps unhealthy) habits, and end up even heavier than where you started.

I love how you also cover fitness. What do you find is the biggest misconception when it comes to exercising?

IS and HR: Many dieters overestimate the amount of calories burned by working out and fall into the trap of thinking that because they exercised, they can eat more. Some even overindulge in fatty foods and alcohol. Exercise is great, and we all should do it, but it doesn’t give you a free pass to chow down.

How can folks learn the truth behind statements they hear on the news or from friends?

IS and HR: That’s the tricky part; it’s really difficult. You can always speak to a doctor or a registered dietitian and seek their counsel. It’s also always a good idea to do research from reputable resources, but some may be difficult to understand. It’s been really humbling to hear from so many folks that they now use our book as a reference in that regard.

I have to ask, should you scoop out your bagel before eating it?

IS and HR: Scooping a bagel can be extremely helpful if you’re trying to eat healthy. By eliminating the dough on the inside and just leaving the shell, you save calories while still getting to enjoy the best part of the bagel.

Bagels tend to be low in fiber and protein and very high in carbs and sodium. So, scooping a bagel won’t leave you missing anything important, but it will help you cut excess calories and carbs — but only if you throw out the dough you scooped. Don’t nibble on it. Just put it right in the garbage before it tempts you.

Once the bagel is scooped, you have to be careful not to fill the hollowed-out bagel with too much “stuff.” Pay close attention to the amount you’re using, and don’t bulk up on spreads, salads or meats. Half of a cup of low-fat tuna, one to two tablespoons of peanut/nut butter, or a couple [of] slices of cheese are appropriate portion sizes and will help fill you up. You can also make a pizza bagel or fill the bagel with eggs/egg whites, turkey or grilled chicken.

Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN, is a registered dietitian and consultant who specializes in food safety and culinary nutrition. She is the author of The Greek Yogurt Kitchen: More Than 130 Delicious, Healthy Recipes for Every Meal of the Day.

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