There's a lot of conflicting information floating around about what constitutes health eating. You can find healthy eating advice on every corner as food plays such a key role for our health and wellness. That doesn't mean every piece is good advice, though.
To help clarify some of these concepts, we’ve put together this article explaining 8 of the most common myths about healthy eating and the impact a diet can have on your overall wellness.
Myth #1: Eating fats makes you fat
One of the most common misconceptions about healthy eating is that eating fatty foods makes you automatically gain weight. Despite the apparent logic in this belief, there is no factual basis for fatty foods impacting your wellness.
In fact, saturated fats can actually help raise your good cholesterol. Furthermore, while fatty foods do typically contain more calories, your body doesn’t process all calories the same way; it will process calories from fatty foods differently than calories from carbs.
The take-home message is: eating fat won't make you fat, but overdoing it on sugar will. Instead of eating low-fat products, we should eat less sugar, which studies have linked to weight gain and obesity.
Myth #2: You have to count calories to lose weight
Not only is this stressful for many people, it is also ineffective because there is much more to weight loss than simply keeping track of what you eat; exercise, stress, underlying health conditions, and other lifestyle factors also contribute heavily to how quickly you can lose weight.
What's more, the macro and micronutrients in your food are just as important as the amount of energy (= calories). And energy is the fuel that powers your daily activities, brain performance and fitness training!
It's not recommended to ignore calories completely, but don't get obsessed. Instead, choose more fresh foods or foods as close to their natural state as possible; find a balance of "good" carbs, lean protein and healthy fats to help your body function optimally.
Myth #3: The fewer carbs, the healthier you are
Still following that "no rice, no bread, no pasta" advice for a balanced diet? It's not that balanced actually. Carbohydrates are very important for your health because they serve as the primary source of fuel for most of your body (mot notably your red blood cells and even your brain). As a result, cutting back on carbs can actually have a negative impact on your health and wellness.
The right strategy is to look for foods that have a more robust nutritional profile. For example, apple may have carbs, but it also contains a significant dose of fiber to slow down the digestion of the sugars.
Myth #4. Eating after 7pm causes weight gain
Despite the long-standing belief that eating late at night can contribute to weight gain, there is actually no truth behind this myth. Studies consistently show that night-time eating does not actually cause weight gain if you stay within your body's daily caloric needs.
The fact is that your body stores any extra calories as fat, if you take in more calories than you burn in a day, regardless of the time of day in which you consume those excess calories.
Myth #5: A raw-food diet is healthier
Some people believe that raw foods are unprocessed, so you don’t get the nutrient losses that come with cooking. In fact, studies have found that certain cooking methods, steaming, for example, actually helped preserve nutrients.
Also, most raw foods are actually harder for your body to digest than regular foods. In fact, over a long period of time consuming raw foods can cause digestive problems, such as gas, bloating, diarrhea and an inadequate absorption of nutrients. If you are a huge fan to the raw food diet, you may end up deficient in calcium, vitamins B12 or D, among other nutrients.
Myth #6. You need 8 glasses of water per day to stay healthy
Staying hydrated is never a myth. However, there's no basic rule about how much water you need for hydration. The appropriate amount of water per day can vary from person to person. In general, people who are heavier, or taller, or more active, or being in hot or humid weather need to take in more water to cover their losses.
How to make sure you get enough water? the right way is to sip small amounts throughout the day, don't wait till you feel parched and down a full glass of water all at once. Carry a water bottle with you so you can drink before you're very thirsty.
Myth #7: You work out regularly so you can eat whatever you want
Another prevalent piece of diet advice is that exercising frequently rules out the need to watch what you eat. This is, unfortunately, also untrue. In order to lose weight and stay healthy, exercise and a healthy diet are both important to get significant results! Both are not easy to keep on, but you cannot take one out of the equation and still expect good results :)
Myth #8: It’s too expensive to eat healthy
Last but not least, one of the most impactful misconceptions is that eating healthy needs to be expensive. Some people think that eating healthy means organic food, premium imported products from oversea or more pricy restaurants that cook better.
Studies have concluded that a so-called “healthy” diet will only cost about $1.50 more per day than an unhealthy one. Over the course of a year, a person will spend $550 more if they choose to eat healthy.
Think about it - buying fresh fruits and vegetables to incorporate into your home-cook meals is, in many cases, more affordable than splurging on fast food takeouts every night!