Lately I have seen a lot of misrepresentations about healthy eating for one reason or another, and I wanted to address a few of the main things I frequently see. Read on to find out if you’re guilty of any of these. (Confession: I used to be guilty of all 3!!)
Myth#1: Healthy food doesn’t taste as good as the bad stuff. I am guilty of thinking this in the past so I completely understand if you’re thinking “it’s true!” But here’s the real deal-if you are used to eating fast food, fried food, and tons of salt/sugar/butter/oil/cream….then OF COURSE healthy food isn’t going to taste good to you, at first. But I want you to think of your taste buds as “trainable” and just like you have to train your body to get in better shape, and your mind to quit finding excuses, you also have to train your taste buds. The first week or two will be hard because your body is basically detoxing from all of the sugar and the fat and the salt which, by the way, are physically addicting. But beyond that? You will begin to crave healthier things. I am not a vegetable fan, and never have been, but now I find myself craving them after a day or two of a less-than-stellar diet. And when I eat a greasy burger or some french fries….they still taste good, don’t get me wrong, but afterwards I do not feel as good as I know I can feel. A few years ago I NEVER would have guessed that would happen!
Myth #2: Adjectives like sugar-free, diet, low-fat, lite, etc mean something is better for you. NO. No no no no. Every time I see someone posting about this on Facebook or Instagram, or I see their cart at the grocery store full of products like these, I want to scream. When you see a phrase like that, I want you to imagine what kind of chemicals are required to achieve that claim. And those blue, pink, and yellow sweetener packets you like to add to things? STOP IT!!!!! If you slowly cut down on the real sugar you use, your taste buds WILL adjust (see Myth #1). Clean up your diet so that you can enjoy the occasional full-sugar, full chocolate, full-fat treat. You’ll enjoy it much more and so will your future body.
Myth #3: Organic/Vegetarian/Vegan/Gluten-free means it’s better for you, so you can eat more. Again, this is something I used to think. But let’s break this down:
Organic: I have eaten predominantly organic foods for years now but I was/am still overweight. Organic means it is grown or made without the use of artificial chemicals. I am a big advocate for organic meats and produce. Would you spray your fruit salad with pesticides right before serving, and then eat it? No? Well that’s basically what you’re consuming when you don’t buy organic. BUT-none of this changes the caloric components. Organic sugar is still sugar. So, while it’s better for you in some ways, organic is not a license for “all you can eat.”
Vegetarian/Vegan: I once went vegan for 2 weeks and gained 2 pounds. A vegetarian or vegan diet can be great if done correctly, because you’re consuming more fruits/veggies/whole grains/fiber. But these days there are a lot of ways to be a vegetarian or a vegan without consuming a lot of veggies. There are also a lot of non-dairy (vegan) options for most things-cream cheese and mayonnaise are two that come to mind-and those things still contain all the fat that the dairy versions have. Also, did you know that things like Oreos and Swedish Fish are vegan? I think we can all agree that those are not healthy. Check out this list of accidentally vegan foods if you’re curious to know more. Bottom line: simply being vegan or vegetarian doesn’t make something “good” for you.
Gluten-free: Avoiding gluten seems to be the new “fad” but, folks, unless you have a gluten-intolerance (AKA, you are physically sick and uncomfortable when you eat gluten), there is no benefit to you not eating gluten!!! If you cannot eat gluten, then these products were made for you, and I’m really glad that it’s becoming more common to find such items. But-and I think any person who is gluten-intolerant or has celiac disease will agree with me when I say-if you can eat gluten, do so and enjoy it!! Somewhere along the line gluten-free became synonymous with “healthy” and “weight loss” and I’m not sure how that happened, but it’s simply untrue. Check out this article for more info on how calories are basically the same for gluten vs gluten-free items.