When you are trying to eat better, getting the correct nutrition advice can make your healthy eating journey a lot easier. Sometimes we can fall victim to the latest new healthy foods or diet plans. But in fact eating a natural diet, full of nutrient dense foods still remains one of the best ways to get healthier. Despite this, as humans, we are always looking for shortcuts and fall victim to some of these food myths. To help you stay clear of the most common, we have put together the top 3 food myths to avoid as well tips on what to do instead.
Food Myth #1: There is one ‘perfect diet’
Generally, when we are setting out to lose weight, improve our health and get fitter, the first thought is to search for the perfect diet. Unfortunately, the hunt for that perfect diet might advise you to start eating like a caveman, Viking, Cretan village, or whatever is most fashionable at the time to help you lose weight, reduce your risk of heart disease and live to 100. Despite diet fads, that come and go, there is an element of truth in some of the diets that have become popular. For example, the paleo diet is a diet acclaimed to be the perfect diet and the one our ancestors lived by. However, whatever your local Paleo expert tells you, there are documented differences between the demographics and practicalities of eating a diet our ancestors ate. In the western world, it is true that the average person eats too much sugar and saturated fat, and as a result eating cleaner with the likes of lean protein and vegetables will improve your health, help you to reduce weight and overall be good for you.
The problem lies in that there is no one ‘perfect diet’. For example, if you were to follow the paleo diet, you might be advised to eat nuts, as they are high in protein. But what if you were allergic to nuts, or even high at risk blood pressure. Having an increased amount of fat in your diet might not be beneficial to your heart in the short term. It is important with any diet that you eat healthy foods and keep your diet as natural as possible.
Food Myth #2: All Calories Are Equal
This food myth normally originates from some before and after picture of a person who has transformed his or her life from just eating pizza, or just eating chicken or whatever the case may be. A related, but slightly more complex idea is the “If it fits your macros” diet. The idea that once you get your daily allowances of fat, protein, and carbs, you can eat what you want. Although there are levels of truths to this diet, especially in the short term. If you are restricting calories, it does not matter what you eat you will lose weight. But unfortunately losing weight and being healthy are two flips of a coin.
On one hand, you might lose weight by following a calorie and macro led diet, but the truth is that not all calories are created equal. For example, if you took omega 3 fish oil tablets, drank protein shakes and then ate pizza while downing a multivitamin tablet, in theory, you might be getting your macros and hitting your daily caloric targets. Meaning that you can eat pizza and still get lean. The problem here is that you might be missing the phytonutrients that you would have got say by eating a salmon, broccoli and spinach dinner. Phytonutrients found in spinach are not only good for your digestive tract they are actually high in vitamins such as the B6 energy vitamin. Instead of purely choosing foods that fit your energy requirements try to opt for foods that are nutrient dense including this huge list of healthy foods.
Food Myth #3: If it’s healthy, eat as much as you like
Sometimes one of the biggest selling points of a new diet that have just come to fashion is that because this new food is presumed healthy you can eat as much as you like. For example, the common misconception is that because sweet potatoes and avocados are presumed ‘healthy foods’, you can now eat as much of them as you like. Unfortunately no matter how healthy, fit and in shape you are, if you eat too much you will be in a calorie surplus. In other words, eating too much is still too much, even if it’s healthy.
Take an avocado for example. The common misconception with this healthy food is that it is still the equivalent of eating fat. Despite avocados being mostly monounsaturated fat, a whole avocado can be anywhere between 250 and 280 calories, depending on the size. On medium avocado contains about 22 grams of fat, which is a third of your daily allowance for fat intake on an average 2000 calorie diet. Overeating on healthy foods could actually be putting you over on the scales and it is best to avoid the common food myth of “if it’s healthy eat as much as you like”.