The 5 Biggest Food Myths Out There, According to a Nutritionist

Updated 06/30/19
food-myths
Minimalist Baker

We pick the brains of models day in and day out, constantly prying into their medicine cabinets and kitchen cupboards in an attempt to uncover their elusive model secrets. In these endeavors, we hear a lot about eating clean and avoiding sugar, but rarely do we hear diet tips from a model who also happens to have her degree in nutritional science. That’s exactly what we found in Alicia Rountree. The Mauritian model (she’s got the island hair and bronzed glow to prove it) is also a certified nutritionist and restaurateur (she has to be able to put her knowledge into practice, right?), and today she’s sharing five food myths that need to be put to rest.

The basics of healthy eating have been drilled into us since we were kids: Get your five servings of fruits and veggies a day. Limit simple sugars and white bread. Stay away from preservatives; go with fresh options instead. As we begin making more and more decisions about what we eat, those health lines tend to get a little blurred. With the sheer amount of health and nutrition articles we stumble across every day, it seems that even health experts can’t come to an agreement about what is truly nutritious. However, while not every nutritionist is going to agree completely on the “perfect” diet (if there even is one), there are a few common misconceptions that should be put right. Keep reading to learn about five food myths that I hear all too often, along with easy ways to remedy each one.

Myth #1: All Calories Are Created Equal

Wrong. Your body reacts differently to different types of foods. 150 calories of zucchini are not the same as 150 calories of cookies. It is true that calories carry the same amount of energy, but the way foods are absorbed and stored in your body depends on its nutrients. Also, it is a lot easier to overeat certain types of foods. For example, can you see yourself eating 600 calories worth of broccoli? The same can’t be said about ice cream—a full tub can be downed in a minute, no questions asked. That being said, counting calories is not necessary to lose weight. I’m a big advocate of using common sense—your inner nutritionist already knows what to do. Eat as many whole foods as possible, stick to fresh and organic options, and stay away from sugar and anything processed.

Whole: Rethinking the Science of Nutrition
T. Colin Campbell Whole: Rethinking the Science of Nutrition $12
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Myth #2: Diet Soda Is a Healthier Option

While you might think you are making a healthier choice by choosing a diet soda, it’s not really the case. Calorically speaking that might be true, but diet sodas contain their own side effects. Researchers at the University of Texas Health Science Center found that adults who drank diet soda for a duration of 10 years showed a 70% increase in waist circumference compared to those who didn’t. It’s also worth noting that diet soda has absolutely no nutritional value.

What to Eat book
Marion Nestle What to Eat $12
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Myth #3: Multigrain Bread Is Nutritious

Watch out for this food myth. You may think you are reaching for the healthier choice with darker bread, but wheat bread is often white bread in disguise. It has been colored with caramel or molasses to make it look darker and healthier. Also, “multigrain” could mean that different kinds of refined grains have been used. Instead, make sure to look for “100% whole wheat” or “100% whole grain” on the package. A good way to choose your bread is also through its weight—the heavier, the better and the more nutrients it will have.

real food fake food
Larry Olmsted Real Food/Fake Food: Why You Don’t Know What You’re Eating and What You Can Do About It $16
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Myth #4: Low-Fat Foods Are Good for You

I’d stay away from packaged foods promising low-fat ingredients. That usually means it’s packed with all sorts of other things like salt, sugar, or cheap carbs. For example, low-fat yogurt is usually full of sugar and fat substitutes, not making it very healthy. I say stick to the real thing, or at least make sure you have a good look at the label before you buy it.

In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto
Michael Pollan In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto $12
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Myth #5: Oatmeal Is a Balanced Breakfast

This food myth is a bit tricker. Don’t get me wrong—I love oatmeal, and it is usually a good breakfast choice. However, most of what is sold out there is a far cry from having all the health benefits that it should. Instant oatmeal has been stripped of most of its nutrients, not to mention the exorbitant amount of sugar that’s been added.

You want to make your oatmeal from scratch. If you’d like, you can sweeten it with some fruit or a little raw honey. Try buying oats that haven’t been processed much and are closer to their original state. This means cooking time will be longer, but I promise you it’s worth it!

foodist
Darya Pino Rose Foodist: Using Real Food and Real Science to Lose Weight Without Dieting $14
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Looking to take your eating habits back to square one? Learn more about the elimination diet to determine which foods you should avoid.

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