Lies may be too strong of a word for some of these, but I do believe that sometimes things are said to purposefully deceive people in order to make a profit. There are some lies out there that are pretty big, like eating fat will make you fat or that artificial sweeteners are better for you because they are lower in calories than natural sugar. I’m not going to spend time on those. I wanted to take a few minutes to tell you some of the top lies/myths surrounding food and diet that I still hear people talking about as if they were truth. Most people have good intentions, but it’s hard to know what is actually good for your body because there is conflicting information everywhere you look. Here are the top five things (in no particular order) that I wish people would realize are not helping them be the happiest and healthiest person they can be.
#1 – Grazing will help you lose weight. – Several years ago, how often you eat became a very popular subject. The myth spread that eating every two to three hours all throughout the day would help you lose weight. The thought was that you never give your body a chance to get hungry and therefore your metabolism would never slow down. Since then, many studies have found that smaller, more frequent meals have NO EFFECT on fat burning or body weight. Just eat when you are hungry. Maybe that means just breakfast lunch and dinner for you. Maybe that means a snack in the mid-morning or afternoon. Regardless, eat foods in their whole form and don’t waste time looking at the clock!
#2 – Eating Healthy is Expensive – I have lots of discussions with people about eating healthy. Most of the time they will bring up the subject and then tell me that they can’t afford to buy healthy food. My wife and I made a decision about four years ago to make a dynamic change in the way our family eats. While our weekly grocery/food expenses did initially increase considerably, over time we have been able to determine what things we actually needed to buy organic, local or grass fed and what things we don’t. If you aren’t sure why you should buy any organic produce or meats, spend some time reading this article. So how do you eat healthy without breaking the bank? A few simple rules will help. First of all, look at the dirty dozen list for produce that you should always buy organic. These include apples, strawberries, grapes, celery, peaches, spinach, sweet bell peppers, nectarines, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, snap peas and potatoes. Each of these foods usually contain a number of different pesticide residues and show high concentrations of pesticides relative to other produce items. Produce not on this list can be non-organic, so don’t spend the extra change on their organic counterpart. As for meat and dairy (animals products like ground beef, steak, chicken, eggs, cheese, butter, yogurt, milk, etc.), these are the most important to buy organic because of the combined risk of pesticides, antibiotics and cancer causing growth hormones. If you are going to spend extra for organic, spend it on these items before produce! I always wait for meat to go on sale and then I stock the freezer. If you are looking for healthy grocery items (canned goods, pasta, chips, crackers, olive oil, cereal, tea, etc.), opt for the less expensive store brand instead of the name brand. If it has the USDA organic seal on the label, it’s good to go. Another tip is to get produce or meat from farmer’s markets or home delivery services like GreenBEAN. You can usually find good deals. You can also sign up for email coupons from Earth Fare, Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, etc.. The final thing that I will say has helped us is to plan out your meals for the week. Only buy what you are going to use in the next seven days and always take leftover dinner as lunch or have a night toward the end of the week where you eat a buffet of leftovers. This way you are not throwing out bad fruits or vegetables that you didn’t eat in time.
#3 – Wheat bread is better than white bread – I’ve been in line at Subway or at a deli and heard people say, “I’ll be healthy and get the wheat bread this time.” May people assume that wheat bread is healthier than the white stuff. The truth is, most breads are pretty much the same. Even whole grain bread usually isn’t made from actual “whole” grains. The starches in bread enter the bloodstream as glucose. Even whole wheat bread spikes blood sugar just as fast as a candy bar. If you go with 100% Whole “grain” bread, it’s much lower on the glycemic index, but is still hard to digest. Sourdough bread is probably your best choice if you want to eat bread once in a while. It contains healthy bacteria in a higher proportion to yeast than other breads. This helps to pre-digest the starches and is easier on your body.
#4 – Eating late at night causes you to gain weight – I’ve heard people say “don’t eat after 7pm because the food just turns to fat while you sleep”. No matter what cut off time you’ve heard, it’s all nonsense. Tests have revealed that even eating a large meal right before bed did NOT cause the body to store more fat. When you eat is not nearly as important as what and how much you eat. If you don’t eat when you are hungry throughout the day, then you are more likely to overeat in the evenings. Eating too much of the wrong foods is where the weight gain comes in.
#5 – Milk is necessary for strong bones – Since the time I was a kid, I’ve heard that “milk does a body good” and more recently “got milk?”. The Dairy Industry in this country spends millions of dollars to try and convince you that without cow milk, you will turn into sick person with frail bones. After my wife read the book Skinny Bitch a few years ago, we learned that everything we’ve been told about cow milk is wrong. The truth is, more harm than good comes from drinking cow milk – in fact, humans barely absorb the calcium in cow’s milk (especially if pasteurized). To make matters worse, it actually increases calcium loss from the bones. Here’s a link to a study on the subject. So maybe you like the taste of milk and want to drink it even knowing that it’s not good for your bones as you previously thought. Well, also consider that cows are given antibiotics and most are also injected with a genetically engineered form of growth hormone (rBGH). A man-made or synthetic hormone used to artificially increase milk production, rBGH also increases blood levels of the insulin-growth factor 1 (IGF-1) in those who drink it. And higher levels of IGF-1 are linked to several cancers. Even if you can manage to find some raw cow milk, you have to keep in mind that cow milk is designed to turn a 100 pound baby calf into a full-grown cow. For this reason, cow’s milk contains on average three times more protein than human milk. This creates metabolic disturbances in humans that have serious health consequences. For this and many other reasons, we stick to unsweetened Almond and Coconut milk at our house. It took a little getting used to, but there are plenty of plant-based milks available that do not carry these risks. For more on milk, check out this website.
I could list more, but I think these are some of the heavy hitters. Please leave comments and open a dialog about any of these lies. Open discussion is the best way to learn!
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