10 surprising diet & nutrition lessons we learned in 2013


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With headlines claiming that saturated fat is good for you and countless companies sued over their "natural" food labels, it’s safe to say 2013 wasn’t a boring year in food and nutrition. In preparation for a new year of healthier eating, we rounded up some of 2013’s surprising news and what we’ve learned from it all.


1. Saturated fat: Scapegoat or saint?

An article published in the British Medical Journal in October made headlines when it suggested saturated fat wasn’t bad for us after all. As the message spread, the details got fuzzier. The truth is that the article was a commentary — one doctor’s opinion — rather than a new study, and oversimplifying saturated fat as “good” or “bad” is what got us in trouble in the first place.

As Dr. David Katz explained in a Huffington Post blog piece, there are different types of saturated fat; some are innocuous, while others are most likely “guilty as charged.” The entire umbrella term of saturated fat never deserved to be demonized, but it doesn’t all deserve to be exonerated either.

The lesson 

Don’t suddenly embrace a diet based on potato chips and bacon. Katz advises, “Don't waste much time focusing on saturated fat per se. Rather, focus on eating well, as the Okinawans have long done with a very low-fat plant-based diet, or as the Mediterraneans have long done with a much higher-fat, but still mostly plant-based diet. If we choose wholesome foods, we will wind up with better diets and better health. Incidentally, our saturated fat intake will not be more than moderate.”


2. The problem with shopping hungry

It turns out we don’t buy more at the supermarket when we’re hungry. However, we do make poor food choices. Cornell scientists analyzed the link between hunger and food choices and found that short-term food deprivation leads to a grocery bag with a higher percentage of high-calorie foods.  

The lesson

Why not munch on some carrots before hitting the grocery? The snack will hold you over until you’re out of the danger zone. Additionally, follow these do’s and don’ts to healthy grocery shopping so your waistline doesn’t regret your purchases down the road.