Is fat the enemy? Is snacking a bad habit? Is gluten-free the healthiest option? When it is time to eat, cook and shop for food, these questions may frequently pop up into your mind. Let’s unravel four common myths that may be holding you back from realizing your health goals!
Myth #1: All carbohydrates are bad
Carbohydrates supply our bodies with fuel; without them, we wouldn’t have sufficient energy to carry on most of our daily activities. Remember that not all carbohydrates are created equal. White flour and added sugars can create spikes in our blood sugar and insulin levels. Over time, this can lead to an increased risk for chronic disease like diabetes. Most refined carbohydrates lack adequate fiber, minerals and nutrients as well. So which carbs should you choose? To ensure that you are getting the right nutrient profile, go for 100% whole grains like oatmeal, quinoa, wild rice, whole grain crackers and whole grain breads. Also, try to exercise at least 30 minutes each day, to enable your body to effectively utilize that fuel.
Myth #2: Always eat low-fat foods
Fat is a vital nutrient that enables vitamin absorption, protects our cell membranes, cushions our organs, provides luster to hair, skin and nails, and makes our food taste delicious. Excluding fat from our diet would increase risk for vitamin deficiencies and make many of our meals quite boring! What you should avoid is fat that will increase your cholesterol and risk for heart disease, like trans fats and partially hydrogenated fat. Consuming too many saturated fats found in animal products may also spike cholesterol levels. Try to choose heart-healthy fats whenever possible, such as those found in avocados, oily fish, nuts, seeds, organic coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil and some vegetable oils. Instead of frying foods, use healthier cooking methods and bake, roast, steam, poach or lightly sauté your foods.
Myth #3: Snacks are unhealthy
When we use the word “snack,” it may conjure up images of calorie-dense sweet and salty treats that are derailing your weight loss goals. However, snacks aren’t always bad, as long as you choose foods that benefit your health. Sometimes running all day long without sufficient fuel can cause your blood sugar to plummet, making you want to reach for some salty chips or a sugar-laden cookie. Instead, keep your body fueled throughout the day with more nutritious and satisfying snack options like low-fat unsweetened yogurt and an ounce of nuts or seeds, hummus and carrots, or fresh fruit with almond butter. Make sure to keep portions small and try to nibble on a healthy snack every 3 to 4 hours. This can keep your cravings at bay, help you stay on track with your healthy eating plan and prevent nighttime munchies.
Myth #4: Gluten-free means healthier
A gluten-free diet is certainly important for those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity. You may speak with your physician to have your blood tested for specific antibodies if you suspect you have a genetic predisposition to celiac or are gluten-sensitive. Most individuals who remove gluten from their diet also remove a lot of processed and refined foods, which can result in increased energy and weight loss. Keep in mind, however, that many gluten-free products lack sufficient iron, vitamin B12, vitamin D and fiber. Many gluten-free foods aren’t fortified with vitamins and minerals, so be sure to get adequate nutrients in your diet if you decide to try a gluten-free diet.