The world is flat. The stars and planets revolve around the earth. If people were meant to fly, they would have wings. We will never send a person to the moon.
These are just a few of the myths throughout history that science has erased. Myths are based on beliefs and not facts. And, when science proves a myth to be false, people’s beliefs do not immediately change. (Ironically, I am sitting on an airplane as I write this blog post!)
Myths are generally started as a way to explain what people are observing and experiencing. An expert comes up with a theory of why things occur, and it is up to science to prove or disprove the theory. Often times, the person sharing the theory is well-respected or in a position of power, so we trust them. This trust turns theory into belief before it is proven scientifically. That’s how myths are started and propagated.
Beliefs about food and diet are based on information we received from the medical community, our government, and the food industry. In a previous post, I dispelled the myth that consuming fats of any kind makes people fat and causes heart disease. Recent science has shown the benefits of low-carb diets like the ketogenic diet. If you’re interested in learning more about the health and weight loss benefits of a low carb diet, check out this FREE book offer.
The medical community has the difficult task of balancing belief and science. While it would be nice if all medical choices were backed by science, it’s just not possible to test everything that humans do or need. The medical community tests what they can, and uses their best judgment on the rest.
In the case of diet and nutrition, the science of food has come a long way in the past decade. We know more now about the composition of food and how it affects our body than ever. The science of food is busting old myths about diet and nutrition nearly every day.
Here are 7 diet myths that registered dieticians agree have changed:
Myth #1 – Snacking before going out helps you eat less.
New thinking: Forgo the snack and save those calories for when you’re dining out or at an event.
It’s a nice thought but the reality is that eating more calories now does not help people eat less when going out. Eating out is more often driven by social factors. Also, when eating out, willpower is weakened because others are eating fun food, and we want to treat our self.
Myth #2: When you eat protein doesn’t matter.
New thinking: Aim for at least 20 grams per meal.
Protein is the most effective macronutrient that makes us feel full. Protein increases leptin production which is the hormone that makes us feel full. Eating protein at each meal helps us feel full reducing the desire to snack in between.
Myth #3: Organic produce is healthier.
New thinking: Any produce is good.
Yes, it is generally true that organic produce is healthier than non-organic produce. However, behavior is the issue, not food. When people try to eat only organic produce, they eat less produce period. Eating any produce is better than not eating produce. And, eating fresh produce is better than eating frozen or stored produce. The bottom line is to eat more produce regardless if it’s organic or non-organic.
Myth # 4: MSG is bad for you.
New thinking: It’s OK to use sparingly.
The science showing that MSG is harmful is weak at best. Using MSG sparingly is not only ok for you, but it can also improve the taste of many foods.
Myth #5: All foods can fit into your diet.
New thinking: You don’t want or need artificial, processed foods.
Humans do not need processed foods or sugar. Our ancestors survived just fine without processed foods. Food processing removes nutrients, and most processed foods contain chemicals that are essentially trash that the body has to deal with. Many of these chemical non-nutrients actually cause internal inflammation. Chronic internal inflammation is known to be the cause of most chronic diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, arthritis, and other autoimmune related diseases.
Myth #6: A calorie is a calorie.
New thinking: You need to look at more than calories.
Chemistry is more important than calories. The body processes different foods differently. In a simplified model, carbohydrates are used as short-term fuel with excess carbs stored as fat. Proteins are used for cell production and excess protein is converted to sugar. Fats are converted to fatty acids and can be used as long-term energy. The balance of macronutrients and specific food choices matter for good health and optimal weight.
Myth #7: Very low-fat diets lead to weight loss.
New thinking: Healthy fats can help you lose weight.
Although this sounds counterintuitive, the body’s survival mechanism is designed to hold on to what it is not getting enough of. If you want to stop retaining water, drink more water. If you want to lose fat, eat more healthy fats. Your body will recognize the consistent availability of good fats and reduce the amount of fat the body stores.
The science surrounding food and nutrition has advanced greatly over the last decade. Many of the myths about food and diet have been disproven. However, old beliefs die hard. Learning to think differently about food is the first step in moving to a healthier diet.
At the time of writing this post, we are giving away free copies of the Body Reboot book to help people lose weight and get healthy! Just cover the small cost of shipping, and we’ll send a FREE copy to your door. Go over to this page to see if copies are still available!