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Myth 15: You Don't Need to Eat Healthy if You Exercise

Pediatric Fitness

Myth 15: You Don't Need to Eat Healthy if You Exercise

There are many misconceptions about proper nutrition and exercise. Nutritionists from the Pediatric Fitness Clinic explore different myths and misconceptions, the truth behind them, and offer suggestions for what you can do instead.

Myth: You don't need to eat healthy if you exercise.

Truth: Everyone benefits from exercise. Exercise for enjoyment and not to “work off” food.

Our brains love to rationalize, which means make excuses. For example, you may think because you have gym class coming up after lunch, you can eat more cookies.

The truth is that most people to not use all of the energy that they overeat. Eating well and regular exercise go together. Researchers have shown that healthy eaters are often not as healthy as they could be without exercise and those who exercise could be even better athletes, or healthier, if they ate well.

Exercise for enjoyment and have fun with food. Try not to see health as an equation where food equals calories and exercise equals calories burned.

Try This Instead

  • Do an experiment. Eat well before you exercise and see if your body feels differently than when you did not.
  • Take a timeout before a second helping to ask yourself why you want the second serving. Are you still hungry? Does it taste good? Are you sad? If you are still hungry, is there a healthier option than a second helping of dessert? Perhaps another serving of salad, or a tall glass of water.
  • If you truly have a sweet tooth, a fresh piece of fruit may do the trick.

Parental Advice

See food as energy and not calories, or numbers. If your child is still hungry after 20 minutes, offer them a glass of low-fat milk or a smart snack, such as a piece of fruit with a few nuts.