It’s no surprise that there are conflicting messages out there about health and wellness. I mean, there are conflicting messages about everything in the world. That’s not news to you. But, maybe you’re here because you’re tired of the conflicting and confusing health messages out there: “Never eat fat,” “carbs are bad” etc.
Well, in short, here’s what you need to know about me: I don’t believe in completely cutting anything out of your diet (unless you have an allergy, of course). I believe you can live a healthy life while also eating french fries.
Let’s talk about 5 health-related myths that might be challenging you and making it hard to know what is actually true.
Five Health Myths
Don’t eat fat
I used to believe this. I basically cut out all fat in my diet. It was the time of my life where I was the most unhealthy I have ever been and I was functioning under misconceptions about what it means to eat healthy. Like most things, the subject of what fats to eat is not straightforward. Do you need to eat fat? Yes, most definitely. But, the type that you eat matters. A lot. I am not going to dive into the long lesson of saturated fats and whether they’re good or not, but I will give you some tips about what types of fat you need in your diet and why.
Did you know that the neurons in your brain are covered by something called myelin sheaths which are made up of fatty tissue? They protect the nerve cells which transmit messages throughout your body. Basically, they’re really important. So, you need to fuel your body with proper fats in order to keep the myelin sheaths healthy.
What are proper fats? In simple terms: you just need to make sure you have healthy fats in your diet. Healthy fats are basically fats that would be naturally occurring. So, fats from nuts, seeds, avocado, coconut, olives (olive oil), etc. You want to stay away from trans fats and fats that have been heavily processed, like vegetable oil.
Gluten Free is healthy
So many people will walk into a grocery store and see gluten free crackers and automatically assume that they are healthier than the cheez-its that are just a few feet away. False. Gluten free products are often full of additives and products that are heavily processed. They have to make the gluten free product taste good, and stick together. Gluten is a binding agent in wheat products, so when a product is gluten free, it often needs some sort of agent to bind the ingredients together. Oftentimes this agent is not a naturally occurring product.
However, you can eat a gluten free diet without all these additives! Simply cut out processed foods and you’ll be on your way. You can create plenty of baked goods from almond meal and coconut flour, rather than a gluten free baking blend. These baking blends are full of the aforementioned additives.
Dairy is bad
There is a misconception out there that dairy ingredients are unhealthy. If you have a dairy or lactose allergy, then you should definitely stay away and keep those products out of your diet. But if they don’t bother your digestive system, don’t feel like you need to cut them out completely? Is there a better way to consume dairy? Definitely. Which rings true for most things in health.
If you are going to consume dairy, make sure you purchase organic, if possible. A lot of farming practices don’t result in the highest quality of dairy products, so make sure you buy organic. A big reason we don’t consume a lot of dairy in our house is for this reason. When buying dairy, try to stick to products with the least amount of processing involved. We currently have organic cheese sticks, whole fat organic plain yogurt, and grass-fed butter in our house. Those are the main dairy products we use and beyond that, we just don’t use them. Dairy doesn’t sit the best with me, so I stay away from it, but I have allowed Knox to have limited, high quality dairy products.
It’s expensive to eat healthy
Part of this is true. It is cheaper to live off of Cup O Noodles and 45 cents a day? Yes, it is. But I am guessing if you’re reading this, you have a desire to eat healthy and have some resources to be able to purchase healthy food. Food scarcity and limited access to healthy food is a completely different topic and one that we will not get into today.
It’s true that healthier food is more expensive. Which is a huge problem because those in poverty can’t afford to eat healthy. And survival is more important than making sure their kids get 5 servings of vegetables every day. This reality breaks my heart and when I was in college, it was my goal and dream to reform the health food industry. I digress.
Basically, yes, it’s more expensive to eat healthy. BUT. There are ways to eat healthy without spending way to much money. Vegetables aren’t that expensive, in fact. You can get a lot of vegetables for $20 a week. And if you supplement that with healthy fats and proteins, you have easy, healthy meals. You don’t have to be extravagant with your healthy meals. It’s the processed foods and extra snacks and sweets that will add up and cost you extra money. Yes, buying organic is healthy. So refer to this post about what you can focus on buying organic and forget the rest!
I have to stop eating carbs to lose weight
This. Oh boy. This gets me fired up. I want to give you a short little lesson on Macronutrients. The are three Macronutrients: protein, fat, and carbohydrates. All whole foods are categorized into one of these. So, for example, a lot of people think nuts are protein. Wrong. They are categorized as a fat. Do they have protein? Yes. But as a macronutrient, they are a fat. Furthermore, all vegetables and fruits are categorized as a carbohydrate. Did you know this?
So! If you are going to eat a whole food diet, you need all three macronutrients. Protein, fats, and carbs. So, in short: you do NOT need to stop eating carbohydrates to lose fat. In fact, you should never deprive your body of all carbs. They are what gives your body energy. And no surprise here: it just matters what type of carbohydrate you eat.
My simple rule about carbs is to just try to eat most carbs that are naturally occuring: vegetables, brown rice, potatoes, fruit, etc. Try to just stay away from heavily processed breads, sweets, crackers, etc.
Carbohydrates are not bad!
I hope that you are able to understand some of the reasons why these thoughts are myths and learn more about how--unfortunately--health is not black and white. Learning more and more about your food, where it comes from, and how it was made is so important!