Between social media, trendy fads, celebrity-endorsed wellness products, and the *latest* buzzing research, it’s hard to know what’s real and what’s not when it comes to healthy eating. To be honest, the slew of information out there can become extremely confusing. Think about all the mixed information we’ve heard for years — carbs cause weight gain, fats are bad, snacking isn’t healthy. With so much contradictory information, it’s hard to differentiate healthy eating myths from reality!
If you’re feeling lost, you’re not alone. Ahead, we’re debunking some of the common healthy eating myths, plus why it really comes down to finding the approach 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.
RELATED: Honoring Your Body Through Nourishment Not Restriction
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, and mindfully including carbs in your diet won’t inherently make you gain weight. Plus, there’s portion size, timing, and body types to consider! This goes for fruit, too. Colorful, antioxidant-rich fruits are some of the healthiest foods! And you guessed it, they’re carbs. 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.
RELATED: These Are The Healthiest Types of Carbs According to an Expert
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 an essential part of a healthy diet. Plus, our body needs them! For starters, fat-soluble vitamins (like vitamins A and D) depend on fat for nutrient absorption. Plus, healthy fats have been shown to improve cholesterol, benefit heart health, and even promote weight loss.
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!
RELATED: The Healthiest Fats You Can Eat Every Day
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
Or, make a big batch of Veggie Egg Muffins at the start of each week so you always have something tasty and healthy on hand!
- 1 tbsp chives (optional)
- ⅛ tsp nutmeg
- ⅓ cup milk, cows (or non-dairy milk of choice)
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 1 garlic
- 4 cups baby spinach, chopped
- sea salt & black pepper
- 6 eggs
- 6 egg whites
- 1½ cups sweet potatoes, diced
Step #1: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Spray a standard muffin tin with cooking spray or use liners.
Step #2: Whisk together the eggs, egg whites, skim milk, and chives. Season with salt and pepper.
Step #3: In a skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the sweet potato. Cook for 8 minutes or until softened.
Step #4: Add the garlic, spinach, and nutmeg. Cook for 2 more minutes or until wilted.
Step #5: Let cool for 2 minutes and then mix into eggs. Pour into muffin tin and bake for 20 minutes or until cooked through.
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.
While late-night eating has been deemed off-limits for your waistline, research suggests otherwise. 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
- 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!