There’s so much information about nutrition that most of the time you don’t know where to start, what’s worth sticking to and what’s complete nonsense. Now a dietitian has told us what she thinks are the 5 biggest lies the diet industry tries to make people believe.
There are ‘good’ and ‘bad’ foods
One of the most common lies within diet culture is the idea that there are “good” and “bad” foods. In fact, all foods, regardless of their nutrient profile, have value and can nourish your body.
If we see food as “good” or “bad”, we dismiss the different roles that food plays in our lives, and instead create guilt or fear. As a consequence, if we do eat the food, it will make us feel bad – even though this choice satisfies our mental health and our natural hunger. If we try to replace our cravings, we can lead ourselves down a path where we end up eating the food we wanted to eat in the first place, but we only feel worse for it. On top of this, anxiety and fear about food can lead to stress, which causes cortisol (stress hormone) to be produced. This can affect gut health, blood sugar levels and general physical and mental health.
Does the source of sugar matter
You indeed need to watch your added sugar intake, but diet culture has created the illusion that it makes a difference what source you get your sugar from. For example, brown sugar has become extremely popular, even though it’s only the molasses that distinguishes it from white sugar, but sugar is still sugar, even if it’s the exotic-sounding, expensive coconut blossom sugar that goes into those cookies. But honey and maple syrup are also labeled as good as opposed to ‘plain’, and therefore bad, sugar. But experts say this is not true. All forms of sugar have the same molecular structure and our bodies simply cannot tell the difference between them.
But it can be a disadvantage to avoid fruits just because they contain sugar. As with many things, choose what you like best while watching your overall sugar intake.
Reduce carbohydrate consumption for health
When we talk about carbohydrate consumption, many people believe that it leads to weight gain, but this is not always the case.
The amount of carbohydrates consumed affects each person differently. Some people do not gain weight and function well on a higher carbohydrate diet, others feel better when they eat fewer carbohydrates. Many people don’t realize that there can be potentially harmful effects from restricting carbohydrates.
Sure, there are plenty of carbohydrates in snacks or desserts, but they can also be found in adequate amounts in health-promoting foods such as beans, fruit, non-starchy and starchy vegetables and whole grains. The research is clear that by eating these foods rich in fiber, micronutrients and antioxidants, we minimize our risk of chronic disease and health problems. So, ultra-processed carbohydrate-rich foods are true to be avoided, but in fact, carbohydrates in the right form have their place in the diet.
There is a standardized way of defining what is healthy
People think that a healthy lifestyle consists of eating as clean as possible, eating only whole foods and exercising every day. But we need to pay attention to lifestyle, stress management, getting enough sleep and many other things, as they all play a role in our health.
Moreover, everyone’s nutritional needs are different, so what works for one person may not work for another.
Supplements are needed to give your body all the nutrients it needs
People often feel that they need to take a bunch of supplements, powders and superfoods to be healthy, but these are often expensive and usually unnecessary.
This is also what the different manufacturers are promoting on social media through influencers. However, it would be better to spend money on fruit, vegetables and whole grains to get more nutrients into our bodies.
There is a reason why they are called supplements, they are designed to complement a healthy lifestyle. That’s why a dietician advises you to talk to a doctor first to see if there is a deficiency. If there is none, there is little chance that you will benefit from the product.
It is important to recognize that if you are chasing the diet culture’s notion of ‘healthy’ and compromising other parts of your life, such as your social life, your relationship with food and your mental health, then it is not healthy for you.