If you’re focused on wellness, you know how important nutritious and healthy eating is. Proper nutrition is the foundation of a healthy lifestyle and critical to personal performance – whether in the gym or in day-to-day life. Meeting your wellness goals means consuming whole foods with high nutrient density, and avoiding fast foods and processed or pre-packaged-high preservative foods is vital.
But with so much noise out there about what’s healthy and what’s not, it can be hard to discern the truth. So read ahead as we bust a few common nutrition myths!
- Unrefined sugars are better for you.
At the end of the day, sugar is sugar and instigates a hormonal response.While honey, maple syrup, or coconut sugar may seem like healthier alternatives (and they do have minimal amounts of vitamins and minerals), there really is no sugar that is good for you. So whatever type of sugar you consume, keep it to the recommended daily limit of around 10% or less of your total diet.
- Eating healthy is too expensive.
While it’s true that organic foods or fruits and veggies may be more expensive than many processed foods, there are tips and tricks you can employ to be healthy on a budget, such as:
- Shopping for in-season fruits and vegetables
- Planning larger grocery hauls around store sales
- Creating a shopping list in advance and sticking to it
- Stocking up on long-lasting and versatile staples, such as brown rice, whole-wheat pasta, dried beans, and lentils
- Purchasing frozen or canned fruits and vegetables as an alternative to fresh products – just check the label to cut down on unwanted salt or sugars.
- Gluten-free is the healthy choice.
Ditching gluten has become an increasingly popular way to get healthy, but the reality is unless you struggle with an actual gluten intolerance such as Celiac, gluten isn’t bad for you. In fact, whole wheat products have great nutritional benefits, including essential B vitamins and fiber. If you do follow a gluten-free diet for medical reasons, be aware that when many manufacturers remove gluten, they often replace it with additional salt, refined starches, or sugar, so carefully read the label to ensure you’re making the healthiest choice.
- Full-fat foods are the enemy.
For decades, low or zero-fat diets were perceived as the best way to lose weight. And while that trend has died down in recent years, fat is still a four-letter word for many health-conscious people. But our bodies need fat to do beneficial things like maintain cell membranes, promote growth and development, and absorb essential vitamins. However, it is important to remember that all fats aren’t created equal. Unsaturated fats such as olive and canola oil, nut butters, and avocados are heart-healthy. In contrast, saturated and trans fats (think fatty meats and high-fat dairy like sour cream) can contribute to weight gain and an increased risk of heart disease.
- Low-fat foods are your friend.
On the flip side of the myth above, there is a perception that low or zero-fat foods are inherently better for us. But many foods labeled this way compensate for the loss of flavor with added sugar or sodium. Additionally, fat makes you feel fuller longer, meaning you may reach for a snack soon after eating a fat-free product.
- You’ll gain weight if you eat carbs.
Like fat and gluten, carbs often get a bad rep and are demonized as a surefire way to gain weight. But just like fat, there are healthy and unhealthy carbs, so you can have your sweet potato and eat it, too. Avoid simple carbs (usually highly processed foods), such as white potatoes and bread, cookies, chips, and cereals, which offer little nutritional value. For healthier options, choose complex carbs such as whole wheat, chickpeas, barley, and oats that provide vital nutrients.
- A detox diet will wipe out toxins.
Cleanses and detoxes have been gaining traction in society as effective ways to clear toxins and “reset” your body. But none of these products can actually do what they promise – nor do they need to. Our kidneys, liver, and gastrointestinal tract are our body’s filters and do a great job eliminating what we don’t need. If you’re looking to reinvigorate your body, feel energized, and get better sleep (a few things that many detox diets promise), you’d do better to focus on drinking more water, eliminating highly processed foods, and eating more whole foods.
Myths – Busted!
These are just a few of the many pervasive nutrition myths out there, but we hope it’s a good start to helping you better understand what real nutrition looks like. And if you need extra support in navigating nutrition fact versus fiction, reach out to Forge. We have a team of certified nutrition coaches ready to help!