Without a doubt, “being healthy” has become a trend. Between “what I eat in a day” Instagram videos, to viral TikTok wellness trends, to celebrity-endorsed diets and wellness products, we’re exposed to an overwhelming amount of information on a daily basis. And while the growing interest in health and well-being is generally positive, it has led to some problematic consequences — namely, a constant influx of conflicting information on healthy eating. With so many diets, products, and media sources providing advice on what’s healthy and what’s not, it’s hard to know what’s actually beneficial for our health.
And while there’s a lot of science-backed info out there, there’s also a lot of healthy eating myths. Think, myths like: all carbs cause weight gain, fats are unhealthy, or all snacking is bad. So, how do we differentiate between fact and fiction? Good news, we’re here to debunk some of the most common healthy eating myths!
Because, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach. When it comes to the healthiest foods, products, and habits, it really comes down to finding the method that works best for you!
The Top Healthy Eating Myths Debunked
Myth #1 Restrictive Dieting is The Only Way to Lose Weight
Glorifying a restrictive mindset can be harmful both mentally and physically — yet, the calories in calories out method is still one of the top healthy eating myths believed by many. You might be subscribing to this healthy eating myth without even realizing! Marketing is sneaky and restrictive weight loss diets can be easily disguised as health hacks.
While calories are an important part of a weight-loss protocol, restrictive dieting isn’t the answer. Obsessing over calories and cutting out certain food groups tends to backfire and can lead to unhealthy eating habits and behaviors like binge eating. Even if you initially lose weight on a restrictive diet, research shows you’re more likely to gain back the weight, plus some!
A balanced lifestyle that involves healthy eating, exercise, stress management, and good sleep hygiene is a healthier and more sustainable approach to weight loss. Yes, your diet is a piece of the puzzle, but there’s so much more! Plus, losing weight can include ALL macronutrients (carbs and healthy fats, too!) without obsessing over every calorie or macro.
Myth #2 Carbs Cause Weight Gain
Speaking of the villainization of carbs, let’s talk about our next healthy eating myth: carbs should be avoided for weight loss This is a myth! But, with the rise in keto, paleo, and intermittent fasting, carbs have gotten a bad rap. Despite being one of the oldest weight loss myths, unfortunately, it’s still buzzing today.
Let’s clear this up — not all carbs are created equal. If you’re opting for fiber-rich complex carbs and minding your portion sizes, research shows carbs can actually support weight loss, not contribute to weight gain. Plus, we have to consider meal timing (for example, whether we’re eating carbs at night or after an intense workout) and body types (because we’re all different!).
This goes for fruit, too. Despite being simple sugars (yep, they’re carbs too), colorful antioxidant-rich fruits are some of the healthiest foods! Plus, other carb sources like root veggies, legumes, and whole grains can provide an abundance of vitamins and minerals and can even help build lean muscle when consumed post-workout.
When consumed as a part of a balanced diet, healthy carbs can support weight loss and be a rich source of nutrients. But, be mindful of excess sugar and processed carbs, which can deter weight loss efforts.
Myth #3 Fats Are Bad
Some fear high-fat foods, while others (such as those on the keto diet) can’t seem to get enough. So, what’s the truth behind these healthy eating myths? Well, at FitOn, we’re all about balance. Instead of following the latest fad diet or becoming obsessed with the macros in your food, try to tune out the noise and tune into your body. If you feel best on a higher fat diet, keep it up! The main takeaway is to drop the judgment and instead, try to notice what makes you feel the best. And fats can be a very healthy part of that balance!
Healthy fats (such as unsaturated fats like avocados, seeds, and nuts) are a rich source of omega-3s and an essential part of a healthy diet. They’ve been shown to improve cholesterol, benefit heart health, and even promote weight loss. In fact, our body needs them to function! They help nourish the brain and benefit cognitive health. Plus, fat-soluble vitamins (like vitamins A and D) depend on fat for nutrient absorption.
Healthy fats such as monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are an essential part of a healthy diet. But keep in mind, fats contain 9 calories per gram. When it comes to weight loss, moderation is key!
Myth #4 Snacking Isn’t Healthy
There are a lot of healthy eating myths out there, with many negative claims surrounding snacks. Don’t get us wrong — snacking on junk food and mindlessly munching can lead to weight gain and unhealthy eating behaviors. But, not all snacking is bad.
Research has shown snacks high in protein and fiber can increase satiety and reduce the hunger hormone ghrelin, helping to prevent overeating and even reduce total daily calories consumed. Other studies suggest these snacks can even support weight loss.
Plus, having a healthy protein-rich snack throughout the day has been shown to stabilize blood sugar levels.
Need some inspo? Try these protein-rich snack ideas:
- Blend up a protein-rich smoothie made with unsweetened almond milk, frozen banana, spinach, chia seeds, and a scoop of protein or nut butter
- Boil an egg and enjoy it with some almonds and fruit
- Make a protein-rich yogurt bowl made with unsweetened greek or dairy-free greek-style yogurt and serve it with berries and a sprinkle of hemp seeds
- Combine cottage cheese with berries and a drizzle of honey for a sweet and satiating snack
Busy week ahead? Prep a big batch of protein balls at the start of each week, so you always have something tasty and healthy on hand! Make your own, or try these Peanut Butter Bliss Balls!
- 1 cup almond flour
- 2 tbsp peanut butter
- 1 scoop protein powder
- ½ cup shredded coconut
- 2 tbsp honey
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 pinch sea salt
Step #1: Add all ingredients to a food processor and pulse until the mixture comes together
Step #2: Chill in the fridge for 10 minutes and then roll into bite-sized rounds. Set in the freezer for 20 minutes before enjoying.
Step #3: Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge.
Myth #5 You Shouldn’t Snack Before Bed
Speaking of snacks, one of the biggest healthy eating myths is the notion that eating after hours leads to weight gain. Contrary to popular belief, you won’t pack on the pounds once the clock strikes six pm — that’s if you’re making healthy choices, of course.
Small protein-rich snacks, like a serving of homemade chia pudding or a yummy protein-rich energy ball, appear to have no impact on weight gain when consumed before bed and can even benefit protein synthesis, stabilize blood sugar, and improve sleep.
If you’re hungry, having a late-night snack can be beneficial when you reach for healthy options. If you’ve got a case of the midnight munchies, here are the healthiest late night snacks to eat that won’t hurt your waistline.
Myth #6 Healthy Eating Means You Have to Give up Your Favorite Foods
Healthy eating is all about finding healthy lifestyle habits that are sustainable and enjoyable. Rather than deeming your favorite foods off-limits, try swapping out the not-so-healthy ingredients for some healthier alternatives!
Depriving yourself of your favorite foods isn’t sustainable. And, with so many healthy foods on the market, there’s no need to give them up! Instead, find healthy alternatives or simple swaps at the market, or have fun in the kitchen and create your own!
Try these healthy swaps for common comfort foods:
- Zucchini noodles or chickpea pasta vs. refined pasta
- Cauliflower pizza vs. regular pizza (plus, try dairy-free cheese!)
- Kombucha or seltzer vs, sugary soda
- Homemade avocado or banana nice cream vs. dairy and sugar-filled ice cream
- Roasted chickpeas vs. processed pretzels or crackers
- Veggie chips vs. potato chips
- Sweet potato fries vs. french fries
- Chickpea cookie dough vs. refined sugar cookies
And it doesn’t have to be an entire recipe, either. Healthy swaps can be as simple as using non-dairy milk vs. dairy milk (for example, in your coffee or smoothie) or using all-natural sugar alternatives like dates and honey to sweeten your recipes or meals!
Myth #7 The Latest Diet Trends Are Right For Everyone
We saved the best for last: there’s no such thing as a universal diet that is going to work for everyone! It can be easy to get influenced by the outside world, especially with the prevalence of social media and marketing. But please, keep this in mind! What works for one person may not work for someone else. Everyone has different genetics, health concerns, goals, and nutritional needs.
There’s No One Size Fits All Approach
With so much contradicting health information, you have to be your own advocate when it comes to finding a plan that works for you. What works for one person may not work for the next. The important thing to remember is there is no one size fits all approach.
Follow your own wellness plan based on your individual goals and needs. This approach is much healthier and more sustainable in the long run!