There is so much diet misinformation out there, from social media posts to magazine articles. We are constantly bombarded with the latest health trends that claim to be the breakthrough in science. Sadly, these are often incorrect diet myths, and like the moldy crusty cheese at the back of the fridge…should be thrown out immediately.
It’s time to bust open the top 8 diet myths
1. Your Body Needs A Detox
You know those organs you have inside called your liver and kidneys? Yes, those ones. Their primary function is to detox your body…constantly. You are incredibly efficient and detoxing all on your own. That lemon juice and cayenne pepper detox, or the spirulina kale juice cleanse is like a witless Ewok to your body’s gifted Yoda (excuse the Star Wars references, I’ve just been watching The Mandalorian).
Detoxes will also make you tired, irritable and generally feeling miserable because you’re not getting enough calories, nutrients, fiber and protein. And if you think it’s a good weight loss strategy…think again. By severely restricting your calories, you put your body into panic starvation mode, which slows your metabolism. This means when you eventually eat normally again, you’ll put all that weight back on, plus probably more since your metabolism is now slower.
2. Low fat or fat-free foods are healthier
Nutrition marketing can be sneaky. Many food products will boldly state on the label that the food is fat-free, lite, low-fat, or a diet product. Although it may be tempting to choose these foods over the regular varieties, first take a peek at the nutrition label. What these products are not shouting from the grocery aisles is the sugar content.
Most products use either fat or sugar to make foods tasty. Many low-fat or fad diet products need to up the ante on the sugar side because they’ve lowered the fat content, to ensure the taste will still keep you coming back for more.
Plus, diet foods are generally more expensive and often don’t taste as good anyway. You are better off having a small amount of the real-deal full fat version and enjoy and savor it.
3. To lose weight, follow a low-calorie diet
Reducing your calorie intake too low can lead to your body freaking out and slowing down your metabolism, as I’ve mentioned above. This can have lasting consequences, and ironically make it harder to lose weight. Not a great weight loss strategy. Yes, you may lose weight in the short-term but the havoc you cause on your body and metabolism can lead to it becoming really difficult to maintain that weight loss long-term.
In fact, time and again, studies have shown that low-calorie dieters rarely succeed at keeping their weight off.
4. High fat foods are unhealthy
Not all fats are created equal. Thanks to a lot of nutrition politics in the 80’s and an over-simplistic report by the US Surgeon General’s Office declaring that fat was unhealthy, fat become enemy number one. Thanks to a whole lot more research, we now know that dietary fat is essential for our health, as they keep us fuller for longer, reduce the risk of diabetes and insulin resistance and help with weight loss.
The key is to include small amounts of fat into your diet, particularly unsaturated and monounsaturated fats such as avocados, olive oil and nuts and avoid any pre-packaged products that have trans fats in them.
5. Smoothies are healthy
How many times have you left the gym and thought, I think I’ll have a healthy smoothie to compliment my session? Or said to a friend, I’ll just have a smoothie and be ‘good’ today. Err, no…smoothies are not healthy. Face palm time!
Many smoothies are full of sugar with blended juices or sweetened powders that give it that extra yummy taste. There’s nothing wrong with having a smoothie every now and then, but don’t be fooled it’s healthy. You’re better off having a pot of plain full fat yogurt with fresh fruit on top which has less sugar and is more filling.
6. Counting calories is necessary to lose weight
Counting calories is counterproductive. Not only is it incredibly difficult to accurately count calories (even for health professionals!) without high tech equipment but counting calories can also make you become obsessed about food. This can lead to diet thinking and constant thoughts about food and depriving yourself by counting calories may easily set you spiraling into a diet-binge cycle, or worse, an eating disorder.
A better way to get healthy and find your ideal weight is with intuitive eating, which teaches you how to reconnect and listen to what your body needs when it needs it. Remember, your body is like Yoda…very smart! By trusting yourself, rather than a diet or calorie counting, you’ll find a more healthy balance, without any of the food drama. If you want to get started with intuitive eating, why not download my free e-book, Break free from your diet hell.
7. Carbs make you fat
This is another macronutrient that has gained a bad rep over the years, thanks to things like Atkins diet and Keto. The truth is that carbohydrates form an essential part of our diet. They prop up your body with small bouts of energy throughout the day, while providing healthy fiber to keep you fuller for longer, your bowels regular and help prevent things like cancer and heart disease.
The key is to have small amounts of fiber-rich carbohydrates, combined with protein and fats at meals. This winning combination means you’re getting a good variety of nutrients, plus keeping your body fueled for the day without the risk of energy crashes.
8. Grazing on small frequent meals is better
Eating small frequent meals during the day, or grazing, has become popular amongst health ‘gurus’ over the recent years. This is not necessarily true for everyone, because it’s really not about how often you eat, but more about whether you’re meeting your energy needs.
Some people may need to eat smaller frequent meals because their blood sugar levels are more sensitive to larger meals or longer gaps between eating. However, some people may find it healthier to eat 3 square meals per day.
The trick is to work with your body, using intuitive eating and identify your body’s hunger cues – when it is physically hungry, and then eat. And also stop eating when your body gives you all the signs that it is comfortably full and satiated. If you’re new to tuning into your body signals, have a look at this free hunger-fullness scale to get an idea and really start to tune in and listen to what your body is saying to you.
You can also take the free mindful eating challenge, which will help you to really tune in and focus on your meals and eating patterns.
Staying educated by questioning any new diet trend will help you to become a savvy healthy eating and remember to trust your body first – it’s super smart and efficient at looking after you!