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Ask a Nutritionist: The biggest nutrition myth?

TheGo asks our local, qualified and respected nutritionists a question that has been puzzling you. This month we posed the question what’s the biggest nutrition-related myth or misconception our panel hears from clients. There are a few, but here they hone it down to their top foodie faux pas.

If you have a food query for our expert panel to answer, please email [email protected].


Mitch Smith – Health Management

Myth: “Gluten is evil”

If you Google, “Is gluten bad for you?”, you get 72 million hits! That’s almost as much as Kim Kardashian’s royal behind is insured for. The first page also returns a 100% negative response for gluten and we all know we look to Google to solve all of our problems. But what is gluten?

Gluten is actually a protein found in wheat, rye and barley. It is naturally occurring and adds elasticity and a ‘soft’ texture to foods. Contrary to popular belief, gluten is not some chemical or additive that goes into food and we have a very good amount of evidence that proves it is not harmful to our health.

Those with coeliac disease are unable to tolerate even a tiny amount of gluten and it is probable that this is where the myth has originated. Often people refer to themselves as having a ‘gluten intolerance’, however there is actually no such thing and if you feel bloated or gassy after bread, it may mean you have a ‘fructan intolerance’, which encompasses a range of other foods such as garlic and onions.

So, bottom line is, you either have coeliac disease or you don’t and the only way to diagnose the condition is through a range of blood tests, scopes and biopsies. If you have issues eating foods that contain gluten, I recommend seeing an accredited practising dietitian who specialises in food intolerance. You may even prevent those unwanted SBDs (Silent But Deadly) farts in the office. Your colleagues will thank you for your due diligence.

About Mitch Smith

Health Management

As an accredited dietitian and accredited sports dietitian; it’s Mitch’s mission to debunk as many nutrition myths as possible. He works with elite professional athletes from a range of sports such as triathlon, body building and football, as well as the Cairns Taipans NBL team (don’t hold that against him!). Mitch has a passion for helping men lose weight and get fit and healthy. He practises what he preaches and translates complicated nutritional jargon into easy-to-understand advice. Mitch has just completed his first Half Ironman in Cairns.


Hannah Gentile – Eat Well Australia

Myth: “Fussy eating is just a harmless phase”

A common myth I hear is that fussy eating is just a harmless phase. Often parents will follow it up with saying they have little control over what their child will eat. However, the truth is that children are incredibly adept at picking up upon how we respond to everyday incidents.

Here are some examples:

  • Our child falls over so we buy them an ice-cream to make them ‘feel better’.
  • We have to take the kids to the supermarket so we bribe them with a chocolate bar to keep them quiet.
  • Our child has a tummy bug and vomited while eating so now won’t go near most foods they used to enjoy. So we start making less nutritious foods that we know they’ll eat just to get something into them.
  • You make up a dinner that includes broccoli, which you don’t think your child will like – you pass comment on this to your partner as you hand your child their plate.

These examples, along with many others, teach our children two lessons:

1) A fear of foods that may make you ‘ill’ or taste unpleasant.

2) An understanding that they can manipulate what food is offered to them based on the behaviour they display towards you.

How we as parents navigate feeding our children is yet another thing that greatly shapes their development. And this is how fussy eating and their lifelong relationship with food develops – it is not simply a harmless phase.

About Hannah Gentile

Eat Well Australia

Hannah Gentile has a Masters of Nutrition from Deakin University. She has spent the past 10 years working in the fields of behavioural science, health, and nutrition with women and children across New Zealand and Australia. Hannah decided to focus her nutritional background on women and children after experiencing a high-risk pregnancy. Addressing the need for good quality information, especially for mothers, Hannah is determined to provide a service women can turn to during the most important stages of their life.


Brie Salagaras – Compleat Nutrition

Myth: “Eggs are bad for your heart”

Still today people insist on telling me that they don’t eat eggs because they are high in cholesterol and are bad for their heart. There are many factors that can increase blood cholesterol which, in high levels, has been shown to be linked to an increased incidence of heart disease.

The reality is that only a small portion of the cholesterol we eat is actually found to represent our blood cholesterol – the majority is produced in the liver. Given that your liver produces cholesterol in response to foods eaten which are high in saturated fats and trans fats, we can’t entirely blame our cholesterol levels on foods that we eat which contain cholesterol. Rather, we should be looking at those foods or lifestyle behaviours which encourage excess bodily production of cholesterol.

Cholesterol is responsible for the structure of our cells in our body and production of hormones, hence we need it in small amounts (about 300mg/day). Seeing as 1x 45g egg (an average size egg) has about 250kJ, 5g protein, 38g water, 4.5g total fat, 1.4g saturated fat and about 184mg cholesterol (mostly found in the yolk); one to two eggs a day in conjunction with a healthy balanced diet isn’t going to cause high cholesterol.

So get boiling, poaching and scrambling!

About Brie Salagaras

Compleat Nutrition

Brie has studied a Bachelor of Health and Exercise Science, Masters of Nutrition and Dietetics and a Certificate of Diabetes Education. She is currently completing another masters degree in Exercise Physiology Chronic Disease Rehabilitation. Brie is a strong advocate for a holistic approach to a healthy living and incorporating both a healthy diet and exercise into each and every day.

The information provided is general in nature and should not substitute any health or medical advice. Please consult a qualified professional to assist with any specific conditions or queries. The opinions expressed as those of the individual columnists. You know the drill…

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Carly Lubicz

Carly Lubicz

Carly Lubicz is combining two of her great loves — writing and getting active. Previously working as a journalist, sub-editor, and editor in newspapers and magazines; she is editor and co-founder of TheGo Townsville. She stays active with the staples of road cycling and yoga, but has recently discovered triathlon. And become addicted (apart from the swimming part). She also has a Cert III in Fitness and is passionate about improving mental health through physical activity.

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