Amidst social media, heaps of blogs, online articles and Instagram comes lots of information on nutrition and a healthy lifestyle, much of it often conflicting or even inaccurate.
If you are trying to make the best choices for your health and want to adopt a sustainable and healthy lifestyle, here are 5 crazy nutrition myths you should be aware of:
1. You need to be on a low carb diet
Blame it on the Atkins diet, blame it on the influx of macro counting, or just on the fact that we have equated carbohydrate to bad food, seeing as many unhealthy foods are carbs (i.e. pastries, processed cereals, chocolate covered granola bars etc.), many people believe that a low carbohydrate diet is the way to go.
And while it may indeed help you lose weight, it is not necessarily sustainable.
Carbohydrates are the body’s most easily accessible form of fuel and the brain runs solely on carbs.
Eventually we need them, and crave them as a result.
Rather than assume you should be going low carbohydrate, opt instead for healthy carbohydrate – a fruit, vegetable and legume based diet with a selection of complex carbohydrates like quinoa, large flake oats and sprouted grains.
2. Gluten is bad for me
The food manufacturing industry has locked onto the gluten free trend, offering everything from bread to snacks to desserts to pasta in gluten free options.
And while for some it is not a trend, and indeed an allergy or diagnosed illness (celiac), the increasing mount of gluten free products in supermarkets has made us feel that gluten must be bad for us, and should be avoided.
As a result, we buy more gluten free products and manufacturers make more in return.
The reality isn’t that gluten is necessarily bad for us, it’s that gluten is bad for us when it comes from the wrong source – refined carbohydrates, sweets and processed foods, mass produced breads and pastries etc.
These products contain gluten in a very modified form, which our bodies were not designed to process and as a result, just like refined sugar, it can have negative consequences.
Avoid these products, but if you are having gluten from ancient grains, homemade, whole meal baked goods, or other healthy sources, it is not necessarily something that is bad for you.
3. Stay Away from Soy
Amidst the gluten and carbs, another one of the big things to make an exit from many diets is soy.
Believing it to be bad for our health because of something that mimics the action of estrogen, many people have banished it from their kitchen.
And while it may be true, the action of soy is not all bad.
If you are choosing all natural, organic soy products, they bind to estrogen receptors, which may otherwise take on estrogen in excess.
Excess estrogen can lead to estrogen dominance, and is responsible for things like skin breakouts and acne, PMS, bad cramping, irritability and painful periods.
While it’s true you should stay away from GMO soy or non-organic soy options, and especially processed foods containing soy, like fake meats, organic soy, tofu, or tempeh (fermented soy), can have a healthy place in your diet.
4. A vegan diet is healthy
Many people assume that as soon as they adopt veganism they will be healthy, lose weight, feel better, look leaner and simply have an overall healthier lifestyle.
And while you may have this, it is not guaranteed.
If you switch to veganism and simply eat fake meats, load up on bread and crackers and refined carbohydrates, or indulge every day in vegan, gluten free desserts (they’re vegan after all!), you may not have a healthy outcome, and instead, feel lethargic, have low energy, be bloated and even gain weight.
Instead, swap out your meat and animal products for natural plant based proteins like legumes and organic tofu, consume lots of fruit and vegetables and have regular sources of healthy fats and complex carbohydrates.
5. You need to have a label
Vegan, paleo, gluten free, vegetarian, on the keto diet, on the 21 day fix, Whole 30, pescatarian, raw vegan, you name it and it’s been put into a category with specific rules and regulations and we are expected to stay within those boundaries and wear one of those labels.
What about I just eat what makes me feel good?
You don’t have to fit specifically into a box or with a specific label, or within specific rules if that doesn’t fit your specific needs.
Instead, simply do what is right for you, what works for your lifestyle, and what makes you feel the best while still being healthy.
Doing this will be the most sustainable option and will yield the best, most lasting results long term.