When it comes to the food we eat, most of us could probably do with a little less of some things and a little more of others. But knowing what to eat to keep yourself healthy can be overwhelming. Everywhere you look people are telling your conflicting things. One minute eggs are great for you, the next they’re full of cholesterol and should be avoided.
Add to this a diet industry actively trying to encourage you to follow a number of fad eating plans. It’s enough to make you reach for a bar of chocolate.
There are a lot of myths around food that seem to keep cropping up. These are some of the main ones.
Protein is only for gym bros
Protein is very misunderstood. People tend to associate it with things like the Keto or Atkins diet, or consumed in huge quantities by bodybuilders. Protein is important for everyone. It helps you feel full and is vital for building lean muscle and boosting metabolism. Finding good sources of natural protein and whey protein is important to keep your body working at optimal levels.
You shouldn’t have any sugar
Sugar seems to be in all of the great tasting treats we indulge in. But it’s almost impossible to cut all sugar from your diet. After all, it is also found in fruits, vegetables and dairy. The body breaks these sugars down into glucose.
While too much-refined sugar is certainly a problem in modern diets, it can still be enjoyed as part of a balanced diet, so don’t feel the need to eliminate it completely from your diet unless you have health issues around blood sugar. In this case, your doctor will be able to give you further information on how to incorporate sugar into your diet.
You shouldn’t eat in the evening
You may see some advice telling you not to eat after a certain time in the evening and that this is the key to weight loss. However, when it comes to gaining or losing weight, your body doesn’t care what time you eat. The success that people have found with this is probably down to having longer to burn off any calories that you eat. Plus, if you stop yourself eating after a certain time, you’re eliminating the snacking you may usually do in the evening, which will have a positive effect on your health.
Breakfast is the most important meal
This is one of the most difficult ones for many people to get their heads around. At certain times in your life, breakfast is absolutely essential. This includes growing children, adolescents and pregnant women. Some people use breakfast as their springboard to the day, setting them up to make good food and nutrition choices. But some people don’t like to eat in the morning, and these people are the ones who tend to do well with intermittent fasting. So when it comes to breakfast, do what works best for you.
You need to eat frequent, small meals
Spreading your food intake across the day can have benefits, especially if you find yourself suffering from blood sugar issues or can’t resist snacking. It can work in a number of cases but it’s again down to what works for you. If you’re the type of person who eats two or three larger meals per day and doesn’t feel the need to fill themselves full of unhealthy snacks in the interim, then there’s no reason to change.
Low-fat foods are better for you
As a society, we need to get better at understanding food nutrition labels. Foods marketed as low sugar and low fat are often not as healthy for you as you might think. They are often filled with additives, sugars and other things you don’t really want to be putting into your body.
Find foods that are naturally lower in fat, rather than manufactured to be so. Eat as fresh as possible and cook from scratch when you can. Don’t demonise fat entirely. Your body needs unsaturated fats from things like oily fish, avocado, nuts and oils.
Carbs are bad
There’s nothing quite like a carb-laden meal when you’re craving comfort food. It’s another food group that has been given a bad rep, and not all of it is justified. Many people think that cutting carbs is the perfect way to lose weight, but it’s not as clear cut as that. Many nutritionally poor foods have a lot of refined carbohydrates in them. This includes things like cakes, chips, biscuits, pasta, rice and white bread.
But whole carbohydrates are found in fruits and vegetables as well as whole grains and wholewheat pasta and brown rice. If you’ve ever tried cutting carbs, you may have noticed certain effects on the body as your brain, kidneys and other vital organs use carbs as their primary source of fuel.
Don’t eat potatoes if you want to be healthy
The humble potato definitely has an image problem. It isn’t even counted as one of your five a day. But potatoes are an extremely versatile food, full of great fibre and other vitamins. It’s often how we prepare potatoes and how much we eat them which causes issues. Most people eat potatoes fried or mixed with butter and cream to make mashed potatoes. Watch your portion sizes and eat them as plain as possible.
We live in a time where information on food, nutrition and health is widely available, but it also means that there’s a lot of incorrect and misleading information out there too. The urge to see results in our health and weight almost immediately has to led to many people adopting fad diets that don’t work and can even do them more harm.
Your long term health will be better served by adopting a balanced diet that you can stick to for the long term, rather than yo-yoing between the two. So don’t take everything you hear at face value, do your own research and decide whether it will suit you.