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Myth 1: Carbohydrates make you gain weight
Carbs have been given an unfortunate rep for years, unfairly labelled as a “bad” food. Processed or refined carbohydrates where the fibre has been stripped away, such as sugar, white flour, fruit juices, white bread and pastries, are linked to higher rates of diabetes and obesity. But wholefood sources of carbohydrates like legumes, fruits, vegetables and wholegrains have quite the opposite effect. These foods contain natural fibres which are important for digestive health and will help to make you feel fuller for longer, improve blood sugar levels, and have been found to help reduce the risk of some diseases including bowel cancer, diabetes and heart disease.
The truth: Consume a moderate amount of high fiber, nutrient rich carbohydrates and avoid processed carbohydrates.
Myth 2: The more protein the better
Protein has been built up by the fitness industry as the macronutrient that delivers results. And although protein plays an important role in muscle recovery and repair, studies show that our muscles can’t utilize more than 30g per meal. Although amino acids, the building blocks of protein, also play a role in the development of enzymes and hormones as well as healthy skin, bones, cartilage and hair, once the requirement for this is met, the excess protein is stored as fat. As important as protein is, excess can lead to dehydration, constipation, diarrhea, bad breath, calcium loss, kidney damage and even heart disease.
The truth: Protein is crucial but moderation is the key.
Myth 3: As long as you stick to daily calories, it doesn’t matter what you eat
Monitoring calories can be an effective way to avoid overeating and weight gain. However, the quality of your food is even more important for healthy bodily function. Being within a healthy weight range doesn’t automatically make you healthy. Our bodies need a huge range of macro and micronutrients to function optimally and this is achieved through consuming a variety of food sources and focusing on wholefoods.
The truth: Focus on food quality within your daily calories.
Myth 4: You can eat as much as you want, as long as it’s healthy
Alternatively to the last point, too much of anything creates excess in your body. Our bodies have specific needs for macro and micronutrients and anything above that is stored as fat or removed as waste. Binging on quality foods can quickly become unhealthy.
The truth: Focus on moderation and variety to make sure you’re getting a range of vitamins and minerals while adequately fuelling your body.
Myth 5: High fat foods are unhealthy, unless they are “good” fats
Not all fats are made equal. The “good fats”, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats (like avocado, raw nuts, salmon and olive oil), are found to be beneficial as they help lower your risk of heart disease and stroke, while saturated and trans fats can be harmful to your health. However, too much of anything results in weight gain, even the good fats. Fats have more than twice the calories of carbs or protein, and are therefore easy to over-consume.
The truth: Choose your fats wisely and eat them in moderation.
Myth 6: Eating late at night is bad for you
Timing of food is less important than food choice and quality. Eating late at night is not shown to be unhealthy in itself. Instead, our food choices tend to be less healthy at night when we’re tired and lacking motivation to eat well or maintain portion control.
The truth: Have healthy snack options on hand for night time cravings.
Myth 7: Wine (or any another alcoholic beverage) helps you sleep better
While I don’t think many people believe that wine makes for good nutrition, there are some who think it can reduce stress and help them sleep. And I’m not above throwing in an extra point about getting a good night of zzzzs. Although wine may help you fall asleep quicker, alcohol is found to negatively impact sleep quality. Missing out on the all important deep sleep where recovery and reset occurs can mean waking up feeling tired, lethargic, stressed and void of mental clarity. The habit of daily drinking to alleviate stress or help sleep can often exacerbate the problem.
The truth: Look to healthier habits to improve sleep quality that put a stop to negative stress cycles like yoga, meditation, reducing screen time before bed, chamomile tea, and committing to a regular bedtime.
To be truly healthy we need to focus on our internal health first, and eating well is a great place to start.
Keep things simple by focusing on eating quality wholefoods, and avoiding processed foods and alcohol to minimise inflammation and stress on the body. Fill your diet with fruit and vegetables, and focus on variety to get sufficient fibre and a range of vitamins and minerals.
Once you’ve found this balance, pay attention to how you feel after each meal. You will start to feel your energy rise as you continue to nourish your body from the inside out.