There are a number of problematic myths and misconceptions surrounding food. No one tells us which myths to believe, and yet they often become perceived as common knowledge.
Facts and myths about food feel like the same thing. However, they are often very different things. Facts are based on research, studies, biology, and science. Myths, however, are based on things we overhear while growing up.
I’m going to take on a few of the most common myths about food, and replace those myths with facts. Almost all myths about food contribute to a culture that prevents a healthy relationship with food. If we can all relearn better rules about food and unlearn common myths about food, then we can improve our relationship with food and everyone can get healthier.
Here are a few of the most common myths about food, and the facts that debunk them.
Myths About Food
Eating Fat Makes You Fat
This common myth about food can feel really hard to disbelieve. It’s literally called fat! Doesn’t that mean it will make you fat?
As with so many myths, this one came from a grain of truth. Some fats aren’t good for you. Saturated fats can make you gain weight if you eat them too much, and they are remarkably common in western culture.
Fats like those in butter, lard, and high-fat meats like bacon are characterized by remaining solid at room temperature. Saturated fats aren’t very easy for your body to use, and, therefore, make it harder to achieve weight loss goals when they make up too much of your diet. (NIH)
On the other hand, there are fats that are good for you. Unsaturated fats are fats that stay liquid at room temperatures, such as olive oil, fats in seafood, and fats in nuts. (NIH) These are fats that will actually improve your body’s ability to process and use carbohydrates. This can even help you lose weight.
The myth is that eating fat makes you fat. The fact is, your body needs fat to survive and remain healthy. The source and quantity of the fats you consume will determine how healthy or unhealthy your dietary habits are.
Eating Only Once Per Day Helps You Lose Weight
This myth about food claims that eating once per day helps you lose weight. While this myth isn’t necessarily wrong in the short run, it isn’t necessarily going to help you in your long-term weight loss goals. Not to mention, you are causing your body extreme deprivation if you follow this myth.
In the short run, if you cut most of the meals out of your day, you will lose weight. (WebMD) Typically, if you take in fewer calories than you use, then you lose weight. The problem is this isn’t sustainable and can be unhealthy, leading to an eating disorder. It also requires a significant amount of willpower to deny your body food when its hungry. Willpower is not enough and this is not sustainable when you haven’t addressed the underlying psychological underpinnings that caused your weight gain in the first place. (Medical)
Denying yourself food, especially when you’re hungry, doesn’t address the real problems, and so denying yourself food doesn’t lead to a happy, healthy life–one where you lose weight and keep your weight down without effort.
Moreover, this denial and a self-depriving eating pattern will damage your mental health around eating because you become obsessed with food, and sabotage your relationship with food in a big way.
One thing’s for sure, you won’t be able to healthily and sustainably lose weight when your relationship with food becomes toxic. People get real results only when they learn to treat themselves well — with satisfaction, balance, and freedom.
All Carbs Are Bad
This common myth about food says that all carbs are bad. The fact is that many carbs are very good for you. (Healthline) Some carbohydrate-heavy foods include quinoa, oats, sweet potatoes, and blueberries, to name a few. Cutting carbs from your diet is actually quite unhealthy. Your body uses carbohydrates to make energy, renew cells, and generally remain in good condition.
As someone who has spent 20 years in Asia, I’ve seen Chinese, Japanese, and Koreans eating carbs as the main source of their diet from the most dreaded refined carbs (such as white rice and noodles) while easily maintaining fitness. And I was totally shocked after moving to the U.S. when everyone kept saying carbs were evil.
I didn’t lose weight successfully (meaning easily and sustainably) when I cut carbs from my diet. It was after I added them back without restriction that I started achieving real results.
And in my 8 years of coaching experience, I’ve met and coached hundreds of people who, although gained short-term success by eliminating carbs from their diets, gained it all back, often with extra pounds. It’s after they’ve shifted their attitudes towards carbs (and food in general) that they set themselves on the fast track to losing 20, 30, 40 pounds sustainably.
Make no mistake though, I’m not saying you should treat all types of carbs as equals. There are types that are more desirable and those that are less.
Highly processed foods fall into the less desirable category, foods like white flour and high fructose corn syrup. When food has been processed to this point, your body doesn’t know what to do with it.
However, even with these types of carbs, it’s all about finding the right balance and being aware of their downside when making decisions on how much to consume. Simply said, no one should give up maple syrup if that’s what makes the pancake yummy. The key is training yourself — your body and mind — to only want the right amount.
Facts and Myths About Food
Common myths about food often create the underlying reasons for following problematic “rules” that prevent the most effective weight loss. The key to effective, long-term weight loss begins with recognizing that many of our most common beliefs about food are either myths or misconceptions. It’s easy to confuse myths and facts about food with each other.
Lean Instinct Formula™ takes these myths head-on, empowering you to relearn the damaging rules of food culture. Alumni of Lean Instinct Formula™ achieved weight loss goals and were able to keep the weight off, without the need of willpower. Click here to learn more.
Leslie Chen helps people learn how to overcome food obsession and maintain weight loss. Watch her free training here.
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