If you are experiencing a medical emergency, please call 911 or seek care at an emergency room.
From fad diets to old wives’ tales about food, it’s easy to be misled into believing popular food myths. But just because a particular way of eating generates a certain result for one person, doesn’t mean it’s a universal truth that everyone should apply to their nutrition habits.
Here is the truth about seven of the most popular food myths.
Fad diets and popular #FoodMyths can make it confusing to know the truth about a healthy diet. Nurse Practitioner Skye Jones and Dietitian Educator Kerry Strom debunk 7 common food myths so you can start eating better today: https://bit.ly/3xnSDrg.
1. Myth: Carbs are bad.
Truth: The right type of carbs are important for maintaining energy.
You’ve probably heard that “bread is bad” and a low-carb diet is a quick way to lose weight and get healthy. While it’s true that certain carbohydrates are high in calories and don’t offer many health benefits, not all carbs are created equal. In fact, your body needs the right type of carbs to function at its best. Fruit and vegetables, for example, are high in carbohydrates but are nutritious food choices. When you swap refined carbs, like white bread, white rice, and white pasta, for fiber-loaded carbs, like sweet potatoes, and whole-wheat bread and pasta, your body benefits from fuel that provides energy and optimizes your brain function.
2. Myth: Eating once a day is a good way to lose weight.
Truth: Infrequent or inconsistent mealtimes can cause your body to go into starvation mode.
It’s true that fad diets like “intermittent fasting” or eating all of your calories in one large meal a day can result in temporary weight loss. However, over time, your weight loss will stall—or possibly reverse. And, it can cause you to feel more sluggish which makes it less sustainable in the long run. When your body doesn’t know when it can expect its next meal, it can enter starvation mode, which means that it begins to hold onto calories. Instead, eat smaller, healthier portions of food every few hours to provide your metabolism with the nutrients it needs.
3. Myth: Consuming carrots will improve your vision.
Truth: Carrots are good for you, but eating them in excess isn’t going to give you 20/20 vision.
By all means, tell yourself and your loved ones what you need to in order to eat healthily. But truthfully, you can eat all the carrots in the world and it won’t magically improve your eyesight. Still, carrots contain vitamin A and a host of other vitamins that do offer health benefits for your hair, nails, skins, and more, so definitely incorporate them into your diet alongside fruit and leafy vegetables.
4. Myth: You have to stop eating at a certain time at night to lose weight.
Truth: Your body doesn’t shut down at night.
Your body does slow down at night, which means it may take longer to digest heavy food in the evening. But, you don’t have to avoid food completely after 6 or 7 p.m. to lose weight. If you’re hungry, satisfy your appetite by eating small, healthy snacks based on what you’re craving. A handful of nuts, for example, could eliminate your hunger while addressing your salt craving. In other words, you should be mindful about what you’re eating, but you don’t need to go to bed hungry.
5. Myth: Eating fat will make you fat.
Truth: Natural fats should be part of a well-balanced diet.
Like carbs, there are good fats and bad fats. Saturated fats can make you gain weight quickly and are commonly found in processed “junk” foods, such as cookies and chips, and high-fat animal products, including pepperoni, bacon, whole milk, cream, and cheese. However, there are lots of fats found in natural, unprocessed foods. Avocados, nuts, and certain oils, like olive oil, stabilize your blood sugar and offer other body-boosting benefits, like improved heart health. And because ‘good’ fats help keep you satisfied longer, they are actually part of a healthy way to lose weight.
6. Myth: A juice cleanse will help you lose weight for good.
Truth: A juice cleanse isn’t sustainable or well-balanced.
The first question you should always ask yourself when considering trying to lose weight is, “Will this be sustainable?” In the case of a juice cleanse, the answer is no. And, juice cleanses aren’t as good for your body as you might think. That’s because you’re only getting certain nutrients. While a juice cleanse may provide a high amount of vitamins, your body needs a more balanced intake of whole grains, protein, and healthy fats, alongside fruits and vegetables. While eating a well-balanced diet may not provide overnight weight loss results, it will help you develop healthy eating habits that will help you lose weight the right way.
7. Myth: Cranberry juice is the cure for a urinary tract infection (UTI).
Truth: There are more effective and healthier ways to treat UTIs.
Cranberry juice is high in sugar, and sugar is not your friend when you have an infection, like a UTI. If you have recurrent UTIs, an over-the-counter cranberry supplement may help you prevent them without the negative effects of the sugar found in juice. However, a more effective way to address your UTIs is to increase your water intake and seek medical care from your primary care provider.
Everything in moderation.
Many popular food myths aren’t true, which is why it’s important to talk to your primary care doctor or a registered dietitian about a healthy diet. And, any food myth that tells you to restrict a certain food is going to cause you to eventually overindulge and undo any progress you’ve made. What I like to tell my patients is that no food group should ever be off-limits, allergies being the exception, of course. Instead, make small and steady changes to your diet, incorporating a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, protein, and healthy fats. And, treat yourself every once in a while. That’s how to maintain a sustainable healthy lifestyle in the long run.