11 Jan 2022
Want to Eat Healthier? Drop These Diet Myths Once and For All
Estimated time of reading: 6 minutes
Millions of people share a common goal, though they may not know it: they all want to lose weight. Whether for medical or aesthetic reasons; because they’re not happy with the image they see in the mirror or the shape of their bodies, this group of consumers is particularly susceptible to myths surrounding dieting and nutrition.
On a global scale, 45% of the population is trying to lose weight, according to a survey conducted at the start of 2021. The same survey shows that slightly over half of the population (52%) would be willing to exercise more and eat healthy, without dieting, in order to reach their goal weight. Four out of 10 people (44%), however, said they would try diets that restrict certain foods or nutrients.
In the United States alone, around 45 million people start a diet each year. This is close to 17% of the population over the age of 20. Of these 45 million, 16.4% are Hispanic. Women diet more than men, and people between the ages of 40 and 59 tend to opt for food restriction diets, especially those that limit calories, in order to lose weight.
Women diet more than men, and people between the ages of 40 and 59 tend to opt for food restriction diets, especially those that limit calories, in order to lose weight.
The desire to look “better” is often stronger than reason, and may prevent people from making well-informed decisions when it comes to healthy eating, a balanced diet, and general health and wellbeing. Social media offers an endless barrage of daily posts with weight loss tips and tricks, most of which are untrue or misleading.
What follows is a list of some of the most common diet myths that contribute to disinformation and prevent good nutrition.
- Drastically cutting calories is the only way to lose weight. Several studies show that focusing strictly on calories and leaving nutrition by the wayside is not a healthy way of dropping pounds. While burning calories and creating a calorie deficit is an important part of the overall plan, banishing them completely could mean leaving out highly nutritional foods that are good for our diets, such as avocados, which are low in sodium and cholesterol and rich in the highly essential nutrient potassium.
- Skipping meals is the right strategy for losing weight. When you skip meals, your metabolism slows down, so the foods you eat are “burned” at a slower pace. Additionally, skipping meals generally leads to higher hunger levels that are likely to result in overeating in the next meal. This can disturb the digestive process and have a negative impact on your diet and stomach health.
- Avoiding carbohydrates is key. According to experts, any diet based on eliminating an entire nutrient is unhealthy by definition. In fact, “good” or complex carbohydrates, such as those included in the mediterranean diet, play a key role in preventing chronic illnesses like heart disease. Instead of avoiding carbs, which are essential macronutrients, it’s best to choose them wisely.
Legumes, such as beans and lentils; corn; whole grains; blueberries; yogurt and milk; apples; and oatmeal are all great options. A healthy diet involves limiting white breads, pizza dough, pastas, and desserts. You might even want to check the labels of some cereals to ensure their sugar content isn’t too high.
Also, keep in mind that fibers are a type of carbohydrate that are critical for good digestion.
- All fats are bad. Science has long debunked the myth that all fats are our enemies, yet in the collective imagination, they are still the bad guy. In reality, the human body needs fats in order to function. Among their many roles, fats give us energy and help with vitamin absorption. For this reason, it’s important to distinguish between the kinds of fats we eat. There are four types:
Healthy fats: monounsaturated and polyunsaturated
Unhealthy fats: saturated and trans
The focus should be eating less of the bad ones and more of the good ones, and staying within the daily recommended fat intake.
- Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. The excessive importance once ascribed to breakfast turned this meal into an essential aspect of our diets — and generated a multimillion dollar industry around foods made to be eaten in the first few hours of the day. Now, experts agree that there is more research needed to understand the relationship between a healthy breakfast and weight management. Some studies even suggest that going without breakfast may not be so harmful and could be helpful in managing weight.
- All smoothies and juices are good for you. Keep in mind that most pre-made juices and smoothies sold at stores are loaded with sugar and calories. Consuming them in excess could contribute to weight gain and health issues, such as abnormal blood sugar levels.
Some smoothies and juices can be very nutritious, however. For instance, a smoothie rich in nutrients or fresh juice made primarily from non-starchy vegetables can be an excellent way of increasing your vitamin, mineral, and antioxidant intake.
- We must be thin in order to be healthy. This is one of the most enduring myths of our time. In most cultures and societies, thin people are seen as role models of health and wellness. But do fewer pounds always mean better health? Even the prevailing medical and scientific criteria are biased. People with a body mass index (BMI) or 25 or more are considered overweight, and those with a BMI over 30 are said to be obese. But these numbers cannot measure a person’s health. Studies show that thin young adults in particular can be prone to chronic illnesses due to poor lifestyle habits.
Instead, people are increasingly focusing on their personal ideal weight — that is, the number on the scale that they are individually comfortable with and makes them feel healthy. That number is the result of numerous variables, not just height and weight; it comes from a balanced diet that helps keep the body and the mind functioning well, and it does not need to meet society’s arbitrary beauty standards.
Remember, always consult with your physician to determine the best options for your body and health and to answer any questions you may have regarding any medical matter.