Busting nutrition myths
Unfortunately, the pressure to lose weight seems even stronger lately as we learn about new medications and fad diets that celebrities use for red-carpet reveals.
Admittedly, weight loss promises are tempting. But remember, it’s difficult to follow a restrictive diet for a lifetime. Our bodies need food for energy to power through our busy days.
If you’re wanting to eat healthier, look out for the following “red flags” or nutrition myths that marketers and social media influencers try to sell you.
Myth 1: Cut carbs to lose weight. It’s true that if you eat less food, including carbohydrates, you will lose weight in the short term. However, our bodies need carbohydrates for energy.
Carbs fuel our brains, helping us stay focused and make decisions. They also power our muscles through workouts and everyday activities. If you’re looking to build muscle, you need carbohydrates.
Myth 2: Organic is better for you. Research has shown that organic and conventional foods are equally safe and nutritious. The “organic” label is about farming practices, not health benefits. Organic farmers can’t use man-made chemicals, but they can still use naturally derived chemicals. Whether it’s organic or not, it’s all good for you.
Myth 3: Full-fat milk leads to weight gain. If you prefer whole milk, go ahead and enjoy it! Research shows that full-fat dairy products don’t make you more likely to gain weight. In fact, they may benefit heart health by lowering the risk of high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease and Type 2 diabetes. Real milk is a nutritional powerhouse.
Myth: Vegetarian diets are healthier. While it’s true we should all eat more fruits and vegetables, vegetarian diets may miss out on essential nutrients found in meat. Meat is a complete protein source, providing all the amino acids our bodies need. Plus, it’s rich in micronutrients like B12, crucial for energy and brain health but often lacking in vegetarian diets. So if you’re thinking of going vegetarian, consider supplementing to cover those nutritional needs.
How to eat healthy
If you want to make healthier food choices, nutrition experts recommend a balanced diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables, proteins (including meat, poultry and beans), whole grains and dairy.
And instead of fixating on weight loss, focus on engaging in a healthier lifestyle, says Dr. Peter Clark, a neuroscientist and associate professor of food science and human nutrition at Iowa State University.
“Take pride that you are engaging in healthy behaviors, and take the focus off the outcome, which could be losing weight,” Clark says. “How much weight you lose and for how long is largely out of your control and varies from person to person.”
If making these changes feels challenging, Clark recommends seeking support from a mental health professional or using your workplace’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP) to take steps toward a healthier you.
Let’s take the pressure off ourselves and focus on the small changes that can add up over a lifetime.