Being in the nutrition world for over 13 years now, there are some nutrition myths that don’t seem to be going away. The myths listed below are among the most common ones I have clients asking about. Hopefully, this clarifies some things for you, too!
1) Myth: All carbs are bad and should be avoided.
Fact: When talking about carbs, you want to focus on quality. Fruits and vegetables count as carbohydrates and those are among the healthiest foods you can eat! When choosing grains or starches, focus on whole sources such as quinoa, whole oats, brown rice, and 100% whole wheat (pastas and breads) as much as you can.
2) Myth: Fruit should be avoided because it has too much sugar.
Fact: Fruit does contain naturally occurring sugar but, being high in fiber and various vitamins and minerals, the benefits of eating fruit far outweigh the negatives. The water content of fruit also dilutes the concentration of sugar that is present. So, go ahead and eat those bananas!
3) Myth: Eating too much fat will make you fat.
Fact: Eating too much of anything can add to excessive calories and potential weight gain. Again, you want to think of fat in terms of quality. Healthy fats include those found in seafood, nuts, seeds, olives, and avocados. Saturated fat has been long-established as a fat we need to limit. More recent research is showing that it’s not as bad as we once thought making the occasional full fat dairy okay, too. When it comes to oils, olive oil is still the number one choice for low-to-medium temperature cooking and flavoring. Avocado oil is newer to the market but has a higher smoke point* so it can be used for higher temperature cooking.
(*smoke point: the temperature at which an oil starts to burn and smoke. If an oil is heated beyond its smoke point, the food can have a burnt flavor and also the benefits of the oils – fatty acids, phytochemicals – may be destroyed. Higher smoke point oils can withstand higher temperatures during the cooking process. Look for smoke points listed on the bottle.)
4) Myth: Everyone should eat gluten free even if they don’t have a sensitivity because it’s healthier.
Fact: The short answer is not true. Gluten is a protein that’s found in wheat, rye, barley, and sometimes oats and does not pose a threat to the majority of people. Those with Celiac disease have a gluten intolerance and should avoid the protein as that is the primary form of treatment for the condition. Sensitivities to gluten also exist – called Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity (NCGS). This could be for someone who got tested for Celiac disease, the tests came back negative, but the person still does not feel well when they eat gluten. If you feel better not eating gluten, then I say avoid it. If you fall into that category, just be sure that you’re consuming adequate fiber and B-vitamins to make up for avoiding foods that contain gluten.
5) Myth: To lose weight, you have to make drastic changes that aren’t sustainable.
Fact: It’s actually the complete opposite! My philosophy is working with a person to develop easy, sustainable lifestyle changes that specifically work for them. There’s no “one way” to lose weight. There are different ways that work for different people!