I also want to talk about some common food myths out there that I think the public and media get way too caught up in. Remember when I discussed the conversation I overheard in the coffee shop? That wasn’t an isolated occurrence and dietitians hear these things all too often. These myths have been circulating for quite some time, and get exaggerated and blown out of proportion, so I thought it would be helpful to address some of these.
1. Gluten Free means healthier.
Gluten is a protein found in several grains and additives. While marketers and companies have demonized it, there’s nothing about gluten that is inherently “unhealthy” or bad for you. There is no reason to avoid it unless you have celiac disease (about 1% of the population) or have been tested to be gluten intolerant, in which case it can be harmful for you and may impair digestion and nutrient absorption. Many of the products marked gluten-free actually have more fat, sugar or preservatives because manufacturers have to add something in to replace the gluten that they are taking out. In the recipes I share, I try to be conscious of those who have celiac disease or don’t tolerate gluten, but that doesn’t make my recipes any “healthier” than if I used ingredients with gluten, like whole wheat flour, farro, rye, barley.
Breakfast: 1/2 cup oats cooked with almond-coconut milk blend, frozen bluebs, banana, ground flax, and topped with chocolate PB2, a scoop of Nikki’s Cake Batter Coconut Butter, and cocao nibs (love this brand).
2. Carbs are bad, so I shouldn’t eat things like potatoes or bananas.
We need carbs for energy. Our body can’t run without glucose, just like cars can’t operate without gas. Glucose is the preferred fuel for our brains, and helps give our body the energy for our hearts to pump, our digestion to work. Plus, carbs are the primary foods full of B vitamins, fiber and other essential nutrients. When we don’t have enough carbohydrates in our diets, our body breaks down our muscles to use proteins for fuel.
Mid Morning Snack: Watermelon Chobani with a side of fresh fruit.
3. If I eat below 1500 calories, I will lose weight.
Definitely not. What you will do, though, is starve your body of essential nutrients and fuel and rev up your stress hormones. Undereating, or not providing our working bodies with enough food, will cause more harm than good and can have major implications in the long run.
4. If I skip breakfast, I will lose weight.
For the quick answer, no. Read this post I wrote about that. For the long winded answer, eating breakfast may have a protective effect on preventing and/or treating obesity and type 2 diabetes, and promoting overall health in young people. Furthermore, breakfast helps us start the day with sustained energy, helps us better manage our glucose throughout the day, and helps us distribute energy more evenly throughout the day. Even if you only have time for something small or a liquid smoothie, something is better than nothing!
Lunch: A couple slices of a veggie frittata I made this past weekend, and some chips and Roots Farm hummus. This flavor is so tasty!
5. You have to eat meat to get enough protein
It surprises me that many people still aren’t aware of where protein comes from, besides meat. Just to name a few: dairy, eggs, lentils, beans, legumes, nuts, seeds, grains, fish, tofu, tempeh, edamame, etc. If you’re interested in incorporating more plant-based meals into your lifestyle, here are some recipes to start with:
- Lemon Tahini Lentil Dip
- Vegan (Tempeh) Power Bowl
- Mango Lime Quinoa Salad
- Maple Balsamic Tempeh Bowl
- Stuffed Farro Peppers
- Eggplant Zucchini Hash
- Sesame Almond Meal Tofu Parm
I think we all can benefit from more meatless nights. Check out Meatless Monday for more recipe ideas!
Afternoon snack: These Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookie Dough bars from paleOMG. I think these may be the best homemade bars I’ve ever tasted, especially with the melted chocolate and sea salt on top!
6. Organic food is always the healthiest.
When my clients ask about this, I tell them that they don’t have to purchase organic fruits and vegetables to get the nutrition benefits. Although for certain foods (see the dirty dozen list), you may want to purchase organic because these foods usually have the highest pesticide residue (think grape tomatoes, spinach, strawberries, apples, cucumbers). However, there is something to be said about buying local when you can, because you’re supporting and investing in your local economy and the food is fresher and more nutritious since there is less storage and transportation needed.
Dinner: Black bean and barley burgers, adapted from this recipe. (It’s beyond me while I took a picture before cooking these, and none after they were finished). I put some over some leftover quinoa salad and added spinach and broccoli.
7. Eating fat makes you fat.
I’m sure this isn’t the first time you’ve heard this one. Thanks to the low-fat craze in the 80’s and 90’s, people became scared of fat, and started eating more and more carbohydrates, namely highly processed carbohydrates and sugars. And now, nearly 1/3 adults are obese. There is a link there. The Mediterranean diet is consistently named one of the healthiest diets, and it’s one that promotes bountiful unsaturated fats. You need fats to digest certain nutrients (Vitamins A, D, E, K, to name a few), and unsaturated fatty acids have been shown to reduce cholesterol, especially when replacing saturated fat.
Also, on a related note, soy does not promote fat storage. One of my clients came in asking me about this, thanks to the unqualified guy at GNC who told her to avoid soy at all costs.
8. And my favorite: Eating too late at night leads to weight gain.
Timing is not the determining factor of weight gain. It depends on what you’re eating and as always, the portion size. Consistently eating in excess of your calorie needs can lead to weight gain, no matter when you eat them. However, say you didn’t eat enough calories during the day and you’re eating more at night because you’re hungry and your body needs energy, that’s eating enough to live, my friend. Calories are units of energy, no matter when they are consumed.
Dessert: Nothing screams summer like ice cream! I went with the combo of cake batter and cookies and cream and Ed got a peanut butter mint chocolate chip. We love you, Elizabeth Creamery!
I could go on and on about more crazy things I’ve heard but I’ll save that for another post.
What are some other crazy things you’ve heard about nutrition and food?