13 Myths About Healthy Eating That Only Sound True, But Are Just Plain False
Healthy eating can be exhausting. And by that, I don't mean the eating or planning itself, as much as I mean the nonstop and often brutally intense conversations people tend to push on you about what healthy eating means to them. For every one truth that someone throws at you, there are about 10 more myths about healthy eating that someone's trying to peddle as facts.
Here's the real fact: Being healthy with your diet is one of the most personal and fluid aspects of your life. There is no one-size-fits-all approach for the correct way to fuel your body, so much as there are various suggestions and pointers for how you can pick and choose from each food group, portion properly, and give your body the energy it needs —and deserves — to thrive and move forward each day.
I like to look at healthy eating as something of a journey or a process, one that teaches you something new each and every day. But what's truly important is being able to distinguish facts from myths, so that when someone taps you on the shoulder during your morning commute and demands you take out your headphones so they can preach to you about their juice cleanse, you can have the ability to smile through a (hopefully) friendly debate about what's really true, and what's just plain false.
Here are 13 myths about healthy eating that should have been debunked a long freaking time ago.
1. Frozen Veggies Aren't As Good For You As Fresh Ones
Most fruits and veggies are "flash frozen," which means they're frozen within minutes of being picked, and therefore, most of the nutrients are contained by the time of freezing. Sure, it's always a good thing to buy fresh produce as often as you can, but keeping a stockpile of frozen fruits and veggies is a great way to ensure you're still eating healthy when you're three days late for that grocery run.
2. Being Vegan Or Vegetarian Automatically Makes You A Healthy Eater
Choosing a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle certainly reaps massive health benefits — if you go about it the right way. Replacing meats and dairy with legumes, nuts, and other nutrient-filled plants and grains will work for your system; living off of only fruit and water will not.
3. Carbs Are Bad For You
Carbohydrates are an essential part of any diet, as they provide energy and fuel for your body as you move throughout the world.
Focusing on the non-processed carbs is a good route to take, compared with processed and refined carbs like white bread, pasta, candy, and cookies. Whole grain bread, vegetables, fruits, beans, and nuts are all excellent sources for your carbohydrate intake.
4. Margarine Is Better For You Than Butter
Margarine actually contains trans fats, which are worse for your body than the natural fats found in butter. In an interview with SELF, Lori Zanini, R.D. suggested looking at the list of ingredients before choosing your margarine or butter:
Stick margarines are not recommended due to the fact that they contain hydrogenated oils (aka trans fats). Spreads that are in tubs can be considered, just make sure the ingredients are beneficial.
5. Artificial Sweeteners Are A Good Sugar Substitute
You might think you're being healthy by grabbing a Splenda instead of a straight-up sugar packet, but artificial sweeteners can be filled with harmful toxins like aspartame. What's more, studies have shown that the intense sweetness of artificial sweeteners can actually train you to be dissatisfied with less sweet foods like veggies and acidic fruits.
If you want to be mindful about the type of sugar you put in your coffee or tea, consider Stevia, which is made with all-natural ingredients.
6. You Need To Regularly Cleanse Or Detox Your Body
If you're a fan of doing cleanses, great. If not, don't ever think that you have to do it in order to keep your body balanced. Your body has its own cleansing system already built into the digestive process, which is why we have so many organs with specific functions through which food and water pass. Your kidney, liver, and spleen are already working around the clock to remove toxins from your body, so don't feel the need to do a new "detox" by starving those organs of their nutrients.
7. You're Better Off Being Gluten-Free
Millennials are quickly en route to becoming the gluten-free generation, but that doesn't mean that you have to, or even should, go gluten-free. Gluten-free bread and baked goods can still contain ingredients that are bad for you, like processed sugar.
Instead of going straight for gluten-free foods, try to focus on which product has the healthiest cumulative ingredient list.
8. All Fats Are Created Equal
Fat gets a bad rap. The truth is that your body needs to eat some fatty foods to fill your stomach and help it absorb nutrients.
Foods like avocados, nuts, seeds, and olive oil are all great sources of healthy fats for your diet
9. A Salad Is Always The Healthiest Option
When you go out to eat, don't feel like you need to go straight to the salad section of the menu if you don't feel like it. Many pre-prepared salads are often drenched in heavy, not-great-for-you dressings that'll just make you feel like crap by the time you're done.
Instead of just picking a salad, look for a meal that will fill you up with nutrients, like a grilled chicken course.
10. Using Microwaves Will Make Your Food Dangerous
The fear of radiation via a microwave is technically founded, but slightly overblown. Yes, your microwave gives off forms of radiation, but food-cooking microwaves are exponentially weaker than X-ray machines or gamma rays, both of which are known to harm people through repeated exposure. Robert Brackett, Ph.D., director of the National Center for Food Safety and Technology at the Illinois Institute of Technology, told EatingWell,
Microwave cooking is really no different from any other cooking method that applies heat to food.
11. Eggs Are Bad For You
Eggs tend to go in and out of our favor as often as the seasons change. To be clear, eggs — and the egg yolk specifically — are packed with nutrients. In each egg, you get five grams of (good) fat and six grams of protein. That's why you feel so filled up when you have eggs for breakfast (or dinner, I'm not here to judge).
12. You Crave Foods Because You're Deficient In The Nutrients They Provide
We've all heard it said before: "I'm totally craving red meat because I'm iron-deficient." Um, no. Yes, you might be iron-deficient (tons of people are), but that isn't the way most of our cravings work.
You're probably craving red meat because you're simply in the mood to eat red meat. Marcia Pelchat, Ph.D., told EatingWell that many cravings are primarily emotional:
Cravings tend to occur when your diet is restricted or boring, or when you know that you can’t have something. If it’s forbidden, you usually want it more.
In other words, if you try to totally cut something out of your diet, you're most likely going to bump up your body's craving for it, instead of just having a bite and satisfying that craving altogether.
13. Chocolate Is Bad For You
Cue the hallelujah chorus. Believe it or not, there are several health benefits to eating chocolate, particularly dark chocolate, which contains flavanols that can help reduce stress hormones like cortisol in some people.
So go ahead and treat yourself. You deserve it.