A long-term balanced diet consists of the right amount of protein, fats, and carbs for your unique body type and lifestyle.
Since March is national nutrition month, we wanted to discuss a few fallacies about the food that fuels our bodies. Understanding these common nutrition myths can help you rethink what you’re putting into your body, so that you can enjoy a happier, healthier lifestyle.
These nutrition stats point to why that’s important:
- Only 12.2% of US adults meet their recommended daily fruit intake
- Only 9.3% of US adults are eating enough vegetables
- 117 million US adults suffer from one or more chronic diseases due to poor nutrition or lack of exercise.
Here are ten popular nutrition myths and misconceptions:
1. Eating Fats Makes You Fat
The human brain is nearly 60% fat, and fatty acids help it function optimally. Fats also promote growth and development, help protect your organs, and improve vitamin absorption.
But don’t go running to the nearest chip aisle just yet.
There are good fats and bad fats. The good fats you should consume are monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Foods high in these fats include fish, seeds, nuts, and vegetable oils. These fats can help you lose weight, reduce risk factors for heart disease, improve insulin sensitivity, and lower your chances of developing cancer. You should also include moderate amounts of saturated fats in your diet, such as red meat and dairy.
The bad fats are trans fats, which are found primarily in processed foods. These can increase your risk of many diseases good fats fight against.
2. It’s All About Calories
If you’re using a calorie counting app, don’t focus solely on creating a calorie deficit. The nutritional value of the foods you’re consuming plays a heavy role in your diet.
When it comes to weight loss, however, they are just one of many contributing factors . Your genetic makeup, health conditions, behavioral changes, and hormone imbalances all affect your ability to lose weight, no matter how many calories you’re burning. For best, most sustainable results, consult a nutritional counselor before starting your diet.
3. Eating Snacks is Bad for You
The types of foods and their nutritional value that counts. Having a snack every three or four hours keeps your metabolism going, helping you burn more calories throughout the day. Snacking can also curb your appetite, making you eat less at mealtime.
Bananas, apples, and oranges are great morning or midday snacks. You also try peanut butter and celery, carrots and hummus, or a cup of nuts.
4. Eating Healthy is Expensive
Eating healthy doesn’t always mean breaking the bank. There are plenty of affordable healthy foods available, including but not limited to:
- Greens (broccoli, spinach, lettuce, to name a few)
- Russet and sweet potatoes
- Apples, oranges, and bananas
- Rice, beans, and quinoa
- Whole-wheat pasta
- Frozen berries
- Chicken and eggs
Buy these items in bulk when you can to save a little, and avoid pre-washed, individual services of goods. They tend to cost more.
5. Breakfast is the Most Important Meal of the Day
What you eat throughout the day is more important than when you eat it. If you’re not hungry in the morning, you can wait until lunchtime to have your first meal.
That said, breakfast has its benefits:
- Men can burn 2.5x as many calories throughout the day if they eat a large breakfast and a small dinner, rather than the other way around
- Eating breakfast can offer a slight advantage on cognitive function , including memory
- Eating breakfast can stabilize blood sugar, according to a study on people with type 2 diabetes.
6. You Should Buy Organic Whenever Possible
Don’t waste excess cash by always buying organic alternatives. Here’s a table of the fifteen foods with the highest and lowest levels of pesticides used, according to the food network.
Highest Pesticide Levels
- Imported nectarines
- Imported grapes
- Sweet bell peppers
- Kale and collard greens
- Domestic grapes
Lowest Pesticide Levels
- Frozen sweet peas
- Domestic cantaloupe
- Sweet potatoes
If pesticides are a concern, you shouldn’t worry too much about buying the non-organic versions of the foods under the Low Pesticide Levels.
Also, you should try to buy locally-grown foods when you can. Getting certified organic can be a long and expensive process. Some farmers opt out of it, but many follow the same practices.
7. Skipping Meals Helps You Lose Weight
If you’re hungry, your body tells you to eat something. Skipping meals slows down your metabolism. When you eventually eat, what you’re consuming isn’t getting burned efficiently. Also, because you’re hungrier after skipping meals, you’re more likely to overeat when you do, then feel sluggish or gross afterwards.
8. Low-fat or Fat-free Products are Healthier
Fat is an important part of your diet, so you need to consume a proper amount of it. Good fats also make you feel fuller longer, and less likely to snack on other food later on.
“Low-fat” or “fat-free” products often contain added sodium or sugar to make up for the flavor lost when removing fat content. You’re also more likely to be hungry shortly after, and end up consuming more calories anyway.
9. You Need Meat
The Mediterranean diet is rich in fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, and olive oil. The main source of meat in this diet is seafood, which is rich in Omega-3s and great for your brain and gut health. Red meat, dairy, and sugary foods are seldom consumed, sometimes avoided altogether.
The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, or DASH diet, focuses on whole foods (fruits and vegetables), whole grains, and lean meats, fish, and poultry. Like the Mediterranean diet, the key items you’re cutting back on are red meat, processed foods, and sugar high in sugar.
10. Gluten is Bad for You
Only about 10% of people are gluten intolerant. One research study reveals 86% of people who previously thought they were gluten intolerant could consume it just fine. This is great news, because many healthy, delicious ingredients contain gluten, including wheat, rye, and barley.
Final Thoughts on Nutrition Myths and Misconceptions
There’s always going to be a fad diet out there telling you to eliminate carbs, gluten, or consume a specific number of calories every day. These diets are often wrong for varying reasons. They’re also unsustainable. Eat a balanced diet of good fats, proteins, and carbs, while limiting your intake of sugary, processed foods, and you’ll likely be fine. To figure out what diet can help improve your health, schedule an appointment with us today.