When it comes to eating healthy, I hear more diet misconceptions than I do actual healthy decision making. I feel like I should play a word association game with the word diet. I’m willing to bet most people would come back with salad, fat-free, juice cleanse, etc. And all of those things, at least to me, are miserable.
For the past couple months, I’ve sort of gotten lazy with my health. Between work, wedding planning, apartment hunting, and family life I can’t really find the motivation to workout as hard as I usually do or take care to eat as well as I should. With the wedding a few months away and with me hating being out of shape, I’ve been trying to revitalize my health regimen, and that starts with me taking better care of my diet. So I figured, as I get myself back to eating smarter, I should share some of the diet misconceptions that would make me hate being healthy, if they were true.
5 Diet Misconceptions That Make Life Suck
1. Eating Fat Will Make Me Fat
This is probably one of the most common diet misconceptions out there, and it’s actually understandable why. It’s called fat, and I don’t like fat on my body, so why would I eat it? Terrible naming convention, I agree. But once you get past the name, you come to the truth that fats can actually be really good for you. Hell, look at ketogenics, a diet where you replace carbs with fats!
The fact of the matter is, there are a bunch of different types of fats. Some of the best foods for us, like nuts, coconuts, peanut butter, butter, steak… they are all really fatty. But it’s OK, it’s good for you. Fat helps us absorb nutrients, condition our body to burn fat, rebuild cell membranes, and satiate our appetite.
2. It’s Fat Free, so it’s better
You see it all the time. The person eating the low-calorie, fat free, no sugar products. It’s a bag of those thin Chips Ahoys, or the newest health bar. You look at them like “wait, didn’t you just say you’re trying to eat healthier??” and they respond with “yeah, this is fat-free though, so I’m good.” That’s not necessarily true. When you eat processed foods that, at one point, contained fats and now they don’t, you have to understand that something changed in the chemical makeup of that food. And somehow, even though the makeup has changed, the food is still looks and tastes almost exactly like it used to. That’s because manufacturers use artificial sweeteners, thickening agents, and other oils to retain the texture and flavor. A lot of times, that can be worse for you than eating the regular version. And what’s even worse is that we often feel less guilt eating the diet version, so we end up eating more of it than we would the regular version.
3. Gluten is bad for your body
This is a tricky one, because there is such a thing as Celiac Disease and it needs to be taken seriously. And gluten sensitivity is still being researched. But don’t be fooled into thinking that every person in Brooklyn with a beard or yoga pants somehow magically can’t eat gluten. That’s not the case. Gluten is a protein present in certain grains, so sensitivity to it means your body can’t break down that protein. When people cut gluten from their diet, what they’re actually doing is reducing their caloric intake, increasing protein, reducing carbs (no more breads!), reducing fat (most cakes, cookies, chips, contain gluten), and probably eating more fruits and veggies. So, all-in-all, it’s not gluten that made you feel unhealthy, it was all the crap you were eating before you gave up gluten. So, determine if you truly are gluten sensitive. If you are, go to a doctor and check out your options. If you’re not, don’t make yourself miserable by forcing yourself to eat gluten free bread.
4. I need to do a juice cleanse
Look, I’m not going to sit here and knock people who enjoy juice cleanses. But, the scientific fact of the matter is that they don’t actually have any health benefits. Your body naturally detoxes itself, and the juice cleanse doesn’t do anything to kick-start or help the process along. All that’s really happening is that your body is burning glycogen stores and taking a bunch of water with it. When you go back to eating regular foods, your body has to absorb and hold that water again, so a lot of that weight you lose during a juice cleanse will be gained right back.
The one thing I have seen from a juice cleanse is that people feel motivated to keep eating healthy afterwards, and if you’re one of those people, then more power to you. But for the rest of us who get cranky when we spend $100 on 3 days of juice that tastes bad, don’t get any solid foods, and just want something to chew on, skip the juice cleanse. Maybe just drink some ginger tea at night and eat more fruits instead of Snickers (you can still have Snickers sometimes…)
5. I can only eat salads
So many people think that when I say I’m working on my diet, I’m only going to eat salads. But I actually hate salads, I don’t think they taste good, I’m never full from them, and the tasty ones are usually full of stuff that would make a pizza blush. But besides my own personal bias against salads, people who try to live solely on basic salads and fruits are actually harming their bodies. A salad heavy diet starves us of protein, fatty acids, calcium, and many other nutrients. For people who like salads, that can easily be overcome by adding meats, quinoa, and some other grains. For people who don’t like salads, there’s good news. You can eat pretty much anything you want and still be healthy. You just need to be a little smarter about your caloric intake, and what those calories consist of. If you love wings and fries (God knows I do), maybe don’t eat all 10 wings and a large fry? Reduce your portions, eat less sugar, and make food at home.