Let’s face it, taking care of ourselves is hard. Our bodies demand so much from us, sometimes more than we think we can give. But there comes a point in our lives when we know that if want to be around for awhile, and want to look and feel good, we have to simply start taking care of ourselves. For most of us, the most obvious first step in taking better care of ourselves is to start watching what we eat.
Whether or not we need to lose weight, most of us could benefit from changing our diets in some way.
But where do we even start? There are so many fad diets out there. Half your Facebook friends are raving about some shake or another while others are on day 5 of their 7 day cleanse.
Eat this, not that. Drink this, juice that. What?
Are you supposed to eat a balanced diet? Or are you supposed to cut all carbs? Why are there so many vegetarians these days? What do these people know that you don’t? It’s exhausting, really, and if you’re anything like me, you become so overwhelmed just trying to figure out what you can and can’t eat that before you know it, you find yourself elbow deep in a bag of chips.
There are so many myths about nutrition out there that it can be hard to determine what constitutes a healthy diet. Let us help break them down for you. Here are some common nutrition myths you may have heard at one point or another:
8 Myth If You Want to Lose Weight, Don’t Eat Past pm
We’ve all been told that if you want to lose weight, you shouldn’t eat past 7 pm. They say that if you consume calories too late, right before you go to bed, your body doesn’t have time to burn those calories.
So, we ignore our growling tummies and fight the urge to hit up the kitchen at 7:15 because we think we have to. We should go to bed hungry if we are dieting right?
Not so fast.
This is really more likely just a ploy to get us to stop eating so much, period. If we have a certain cutoff time, at least we will eventually stop and put an end to the rising calorie count for the day.
So what this means is, as long as you aren’t consuming too many calories, it doesn’t really matter WHEN you consume them.
Now that's some good news!
According to Dr. John Foreyt, director of the Behavioral Medicine Research Center at Baylor College of Medicine, “Calories are calories are calories, and it doesn’t matter what time you eat them. What matters are the total calories you take in.”
We like how Dr. Foreyt thinks. Besides, going to bed hungry just means you wake up even hungrier and more likely to eat too much at breakfast which gets you off to a rocky start for the whole day, right?
So what this means is that if you save yourself some calories, a healthy snack before bedtime should be perfectly fine. Just don’t make it a bag of chips and a can of Coke, ya know?
7 Myth If it Has Zero Calories it Must Be Good for You
While we are on the subject of calories… Many diet and weight loss programs rely on the obsessive counting of calories. Some programs don’t even take fat or anything else into account- calories are it. So you count calories all day long and be super careful not to go over your daily allowance. If something has a ton of calories, you skip it to save your calories. But if it has zero calories, it’s fair game, have all you want- right?
So you load up on all the diet soda your little heart desires. You sweeten your coffee and tea with artificial sweeteners because they have zero calories. You bake with artificial sweeteners and pride yourself on finding a way to have your cake and eat it too. Literally!
But, you aren’t losing weight. Why aren’t you losing weight?
According to experts, artificial sweeteners can disturb the body’s ability to count calories and as a result, weight gain, rather than weight loss, can be caused by diet foods and drinks sweetened with artificial sweeteners.
What the what?
There’s more. In case you haven’t heard, artificial sweeteners simply aren’t good for you and have been linked to increased risk of diabetes, heart disease, and metabolic syndrome, in addition to obesity.
So in a nutshell, losing weight and drinking soda or consuming “sweets” simply don’t go hand in hand. If you must indulge in something sweet from time to time you are likely better off to just go for the real deal in limited quantities.
6 Myth You Crave Certain Foods Because Your Body Needs Those Nutrients
Have you ever heard someone say that craving chocolate means your body needs magnesium? Or that if you crave a cheeseburger you must need iron or calcium? So you should go ahead and indulge, because your body needs these nutrients?
Well, we hate to burst your bubble, we really do. But experts say that in most cases, this is simply hogwash.
Most cravings are simply psychological. You WANT chocolate (duh, why wouldn’t you?) so you convince yourself that you NEED chocolate. But you're smarter than that. You know you don’t need chocolate. Right?
Maybe cravings are just...cravings
The only exception is the disorder pica. This is when an iron deficiency can cause someone to crave nonfood items like dirt, rocks, paper towels.
Aside from pica, cravings are simply cravings. If you’re lucky and you crave salads, mixed veggies, and fresh fruit, than giving into your cravings shouldn’t be a problem. But if your cravings are for sweets, and deep fried delights, you have to be careful. Try finding healthy alternatives or lower calorie items that can serve as a substitute.
5 Myth You Should Be Eating Many Small Meals Throughout the Day to Help You Lose Weight
Here’s another one: You should be eating many small meals all day long, not 3 larger meals, if you want to lose weight. They say to eat every 2 to 3 hours, up to 6 small meals a day.
Ok, first of all who has time for that? I don’t even work outside the home and I have a hard enough time finding the time to shovel three meals a day into my mouth. At least one meal a day is consumed while standing at the kitchen counter, shoveling in bites between loading the dishwasher and making my kids a snack.
Second of all, what would you even eat all day? And who can afford that? I think I would run out of foods I like if I had to eat that many different things in one day. But that’s just me.
How many times a day can you eat potatoes without throwing up?
Well, celebrity trainer Jillian Michaels says this myth is wrong, wrong, wrong.
In fact, eating or grazing around the clock does the exact opposite of stimulating your metabolism. Instead, constantly eating just prevents your body from burning any fat. It sends your body into “absorptive phase” which means your body is storing sugar instead of breaking down fat- not a good thing.
Studies also show that grazers tend to eat more, which means they consume more calories throughout the day than those who stick to the traditional 3 meals a day.
4 Myth You Should Be Drinking at Least Glasses of Water Per Day
I was really excited to bust this myth because for purely selfish reasons. I hate drinking water. I know it’s good for me. I know my body needs water. I know! I’ve been told my entire life that I need to be drinking 8 glasses of water a day, and even more if I want to lose weight. But, it’s just so boring.
Confession: I’ve probably actually drank 8 glasses of water in a given day less than 10 times my entire life.
The most recent Institute of Medicine recommendation is that women should drink 8 glasses, or 2 liters, a day of ANY fluid. Men should take in 12 glasses, or 3 liters, of fluid per day.
Did you catch that? Not water, ANY fluid.
According to Georgia Chavent, MS, RD director of the Nutrition and Dietetics Program at the University of New Haven, “No one can figure out where this ‘eight glasses of water’ came from, but I believe it came from the old recommended daily allowance for water that matched water requirements to calorie requirements.
The new requirement from the Institute of Medicine is much more generous and includes recommendations for total beverage consumption, not just water.”
Thank goodness, now my coffee, orange juice, and water all count toward the goal. That’s much more like it.
3 Myth Red Wine is THE Heart Healthy Alcohol
We’ve always heard about the heart benefits of drinking red wine. But beer, whiskey, and margarita lovers rejoice! Finally, something to show your wine loving friends who boast about the heart benefits of drinking a glass of red wine a day. It turns out all alcohol (in moderation) can be good for the heart!
It has always been said that the antioxidants that come from the grapes in red wine that contributed to the heart benefits that come from drinking the stuff.
But according to Eric Rimm, ScD, associate professor of nutrition at the school of Public Health at Harvard University, it’s simply the alcohol in the wine, and in every other alcoholic beverage, that carries the benefits.
Get the benefits of alcohol from...alcohol
The ethanol (alcohol) apparently raises levels of protective HDL, which is good cholesterol. This helps protect against the build up of plaque in the arteries which reduces clotting factors that contribute to heart attack and stroke.
So any kind of alcoholic beverage, when consumed in moderation, which means one to two drinks per day, helps to reduce heart disease.
2 Myth Fruit Has Too Many Calories and Too Much Sugar
Just recently, someone told me “You know not all fruit is good for you right?”
My mind was blown. If fruit isn’t good for me then what the heck is good for me?
But a quick google search brought up plenty of examples of fruits that are considered high in sugar, carbohydrates, and calories and therefore not recommended, especially if you are trying to lose weight.
But there is a huge difference between natural sugar and added sugar.
Fructose is the primary sugar in fruit it is a natural sugar. But fruits also contain water, fiber, antioxidants, and lots of other vitamins and nutrients that are good for you. Sugar in it’s pure form, added to soda and candy, which contains no other important vitamins or nutrients is known as added sugar. Added sugar is unhealthy and can contribute to obesity, tooth decay, and a number of other health issues.
Is it really that tough to see the huge difference between fruit and added sugar?
Fruits have been known to fight against cancer, heart disease, and other diseases. The vitamins, nutrients, and antioxidants found in fruit are crucial to your health. So please, don’t confuse the sugar and calories found in fruits as your enemy. We promise fruit is a much healthier choice than your sugar-free zero calorie diet soda.
1 Myth Red Meat is the Devil
I’m guilty of believing this myth for years, without even doing a single bit of research to support my beliefs.
When both my parents suffered heart attacks at fairly young ages, I determined that I needed to start eating a heart healthy diet. I would start with the obvious, I would cut red meat. Because everyone knows red meat is terrible for you.
But in 2010a study of1,218,380 individuals found NO LINK between the consumption of red meat and heart disease.
And then there is the belief that red meat makes you fat. But, meat is protein and your body needs protein, specifically to boost your metabolism. So there’s that.
What about cholesterol?
So one of the marks against red meat is that it is higher in cholesterol and saturated fats. But new studies show that these aren’t as harmful as was once thought. In fact, cholesterol is a vital molecule in the body.
So while we don’t recommend a burger or a steak with every meal, you shouldn’t be so hard on yourself when you indulge in a big juicy steak every now and then.