You can find healthy eating tips just about anywhere these days but let's be honest, not all advice is created equal. Nutrition information can be overwhelming and straight up confusing especially when you add in fad diets, obscure research trials and fancy headlines. These myths can often lead us down the wrong path like unnecessarily avoiding certain foods altogether or worse, implementing what we think are healthier options that actually have a negative impact on our nutrition.
This week we are highlighting eight myths about healthy eating that you can throw out with the bath water :)
MYTH #1: EGG YOLKS ARE BAD FOR YOU
Dietary cholesterol has been wrongly accused of raising our blood cholesterol levels for years. It’s become clearer that saturated fats and trans fats are more influential in raising blood cholesterol levels. And while eggs—the yolks included—ARE high in cholesterol, they are relatively LOW in saturated fats. A significant amount of research has been done in recent years, and the verdict is that the entire egg can actually be a part of a healthy diet and in most people, does not significantly impact cholesterol levels or heart disease risk.
MYTH #2: COFFEE IS DEHYDRATING
Yes, coffee is a diuretic (aka, promotes urine production), but it’s an extremely mild one. It also has a lot of water in it and therefore actually counts toward your daily fluid intake. The amount it would take to dehydrate you is more than anyone should be consuming in a day—if you have two or three cups daily, your fluid levels will be completely fine. If you're daily intake is more than that I would recommend revisiting the caffeine blog included in week 1's weekly check-in!
MYTH #3: NATURAL SUGAR IS DIFFERENT FROM ADDED SUGAR
Take a deep breath and repeat after me....sugar is sugar is sugar. On a molecular level, the sugar in an apple is the same as the sugar you spoon into your coffee cup. There can be a difference in how our bodies break down the sugar when it’s combined with other nutrients like fiber and protein, but simply being natural doesn’t cut it. Sugar in a whole fruit comes with fiber and helps slow digestion and prevent blood sugar spikes. That’s better than sugar that comes void of other nutrients. But when you squeeze out the juice and drink it, or eat maple syrup, agave syrup, or honey, your body reacts the same way it would to table sugar or the sugar in a Coke.
MYTH #4: ORGANIC FOOD IS AUTOMATICALLY HEALTHY
The word “organic” comes with a big, shiny health halo around it. But the truth is that organic snacks are still snacks. Eating them in excess isn’t OK because they meet the requirements for an organic label. “Organic chocolate syrup is still chocolate syrup,” Caroline Kaufman, R.D., tells SELF. Organic cookies, crackers, chips, and candies have the same amount of sugar, fat, and empty calories as non-organic versions. When it comes to produce, choosing organic versions of the “dirty dozen”—the foods that typically have the highest amount of pesticides on them—is a good way to cut back on chemical exposure. But be just as mindful of reading labels on "organic," products and try to stick to whole, natural foods found on the outside aisles of the grocery store.
MYTH #5: MARGARINE IS AUTOMATICALLY BETTER THAN BUTTER
Margarine become popular in the fat-is-bad era, but many actually contain trans fats, which are WORSEfor you than the naturally occurring saturated fat in butter. Butter’s ingredient list is short and sweet and doesn’t contain extra ingredients to make up for lack of taste. Not all fake butter is bad, but you have to be cautious about what you’re buying and look at the ingredients list first.
MYTH #6: SALADS ARE ALWAYS THE HEALTHIEST OPTION ON THE MENU
Sad but not always true. You’d think that choosing the salad is safe. But all the add-ons piled atop a bed of lettuce can make the sugar, fat, and calorie count just as high as the mouthwatering burger you’re trying to resist. “Watch out for tricky salad toppings that add up quickly: creamy, bottled dressings; cheese; bacon; croutons; or sweetened, dried fruit,” Zanini says. Other ingredients, like avocado and nuts, are healthy in small amounts but are usually served in too-large portion sizes, Kaufman says. To make sure your salad is as healthy as possible, look for one with leafy greens, lean protein (fried chicken doesn’t count), a small serving of healthy fat, and an oil-based dressing on the side. The oil helps you absorb all the fat-soluble nutrients you’re eating, and keeps you away from caloric creamy dressing.
MYTH #7: LOW-FAT VERSIONS ARE BETTER THAN THE ORIGINALS
If you’re still buying low-fat varieties of naturally fatty foods (I’m looking at you, coffee creamer), you might be doing yourself a disservice. Fat is a necessary part of a healthy diet. Fat is not bad, nor does it go directly to your hips. Any extra calories you eat that your body can’t use can be converted into body fat, not just dietary fat. Remember that fat is more densely caloric which is both a blessing and a curse. Because fat is so rich in calories, it is also very satisfying (almond butter anyone?!). Ideally, this means you could mindfully eat or use a small amount to feel full. I notice when I incorporate small amounts of fat into breakfast and lunch I tend to feel fuller for longer. It's all about monitoring portion sizes. Remember too, when fat is removed from foods, it’s usually replaced by sugar or salt, so it’s important to read the ingredients list before choosing the adulterated version. Usually, you’re better off eating a small serving of the full-fat kind so you actually enjoy it and feel satiated.
MYTH #8: EVERYONE WILL BENEFIT FROM GIVING UP GLUTEN
Not everyone needs to jump on the gluten-free bus and you're likely not to see any benefits from dropping gluten unless you have Celiac disease or a gluten intolerance. It’s also important to note that not all gluten-free foods are created equally, or healthfully. Some gluten-free breads and baked goods are actually laden with nutrient-poor, refined flours. They can also be high in sugar. If you suspect that gluten may be a dietary issue my first recommendation would be to consult your doctor and collaborate in uncovering any food sensitivities / intolerances so you're headed down the right path.
If you've been following each week's mindset exercise you should be working through your Top 5 Core Values and Setting Boundaries. Last week I asked you to create a list of 5 things you allow based off your core values. This week we are going to focus on creating a list of 5 things you are willing to tolerate based on those same values.
For example, my core values were as follows: Balance, Compassion, Excellence, Love and Stability
Below are 5 things that I am willing to tolerate when it comes to setting healthy boundaries that serve my highest good.
- I am willing to adjust my schedule when unexpected things come up during the week and temporarily throw off my sense of balance.
- I will willing to listen to and consider constructive criticism when it is shared with honesty and compassion.
- I am willing to find ways of putting in additional work during the week to excel in my career and achieve excellence.
- I am willing to prioritize the needs of those I love the most at times to show my love and care for them.
- I am willing to talk / work through difficult situations so that those closest to me know they can rely on me and feel stability in our relationship.
The More You Know:
As we head into the back half of our 8-week program I want to help you begin thinking about next steps when it comes to your health and wellness. What key takeaways have your learned so far and what areas of your life would you consider a top priority when it comes to progressing along your individual journey. Managing stress better? Honing in on a nutrition strategy that's sustainable and effective? Committing to a longer term program?
The world is your oyster! I want to encourage you over these next few weeks to really think about what things matter most to you at this point in your life because truthfully, they are all part and parcel of your health and wellness. And, when they work in unison we are able to be our best and truest selves on a consistent basis. That is my desire for you. My role is to be a bridge in helping you get from point A to point B. For this week's "The More You Know," I want you to look within(!) at what you may already know but have become disconnected from. It's time to listen to that small, still voice within and use that inner guidance to begin charting a course forward. You got this!