You’ve been lied to.
What am I talking about?
Conventional nutrition wisdom.
I heard a funny joke this weekend about nutrition.
There are four things you “shouldn’t talk to people about”:
That is, if you don’t want to get into a conflict or debate.
In all seriousness though, nutrition is one of those topics that continuously has camps out on the alert as to what is ‘good’, what is ‘healthy’ and what is ‘not.’
And it is one of those topics that the messages and ‘truths’ are constantly shifting and changing, right?
For years, we were told to eat low fat, grains—and lots of them. Upwards of 11 servings per day. Then we were told, not just any grain, but whole grains. More bread companies started touting their products as ‘whole grains’ or ‘whole wheat’ (Only to find the words, ‘Enriched with’) on the label (i.e. ‘not really whole’).
Then, with Atkins, we were told grains are bad, and to focus on eating meat—and lots of it.
Fresh squeezed juice is all the rage…then it has ‘too much sugar.’
The dairy industry tells us to eat 2-3 servings of dairy each day for the calcium we need, only to find out that dairy actually causes inflammation in our bodies, skin breakouts, allergic reactions and more.
Snack bars and 100-calorie snack packs are good—until we found out there were hidden transfats in them, and several companies have gone back to try to revamp their ingredients, boasting ‘no transfats’ on the label. The same thing with cereal. Cereal has taken a hit with the increased awareness in added sugar to their ingredients, and in order to keep sales high, the cereal industry posts, ‘high in fiber’ and ‘protein enriched’ on the label.
Diet coke is the best and healthy alternative to regular soda—then it is awful, because of all the aspartame.
What do we believe? How do we know what’s best for our bodies?
With the information overload, it’s no wonder many people say, ‘forget it’—and go on, living their life, eating whatever they want and whatever satisfies their fancy, with no regard to what they are actually putting in their bodies.
I talk to people, on a daily basis, about their nutrition. And, 9 times out of 10, I hear these words…
“I eat pretty healthy, but…”
“I eat pretty healthy, except…”
(Now, DISCLAIMER: NO ONE is perfect, nor should anyone feel they should have to be perfect—that’s a whole other issue, and other topic, for another day).
And, time and time again, they will give me a 2-3 day food log to look over, and it’s written all over their menus:
Lies they didn’t even realize were lies when it comes to their nutrition.
I can ONLY relate.
For years (did I say, years??!!), throughout my eating disorder, I believed lies about my nutrition and health—and quite honestly, had you told me they were lies, I still would have laughed in your face.
Let me explain. Check out these top 7 lies I regularly see (and also once believed), and ask yourself, have you believed any lies about your own health or nutrition?
- Gluten Free is the way to go. Gluten-free is the ‘in-diet’ of the moment. Go to any restaurant or grocery store, and you are now able to find gluten free options (and not get weird stares when you ask for these options). However, a gluten free diet does not automatically qualify as a healthy diet, because it often includes extremely inflammatory ingredients like vegetable oils, soy, refined sugar and other grains. Many gluten-free products actually trick your body, and trigger your blood sugar to respond the exact same way that it does to the gluten-rich foods you may be avoiding. Processed gluten-free products first, create inflammation that may also include perpetuation of high blood sugar, in addition to the processing of poor, hydrogenated trans fats—that weakens your own cells, metabolic function and digestion. There are some gluten-free foods most certainly that don’t do this too. The ones I’m talking about are some of the packaged bars, snack crackers, frozen dinner meals, pastas, cereals. If the ingredient list is longer than your arm, there’s a good chance it’s not the best for your bod.
- Choose Healthy Whole Grains. If you aren’t on the gluten-free kick, maybe it is the ‘hearty whole grains’ kick. Whole wheat bread, pasta, cereals—those are best right? Not quite. . The term “healthy whole grains” is actually an oxymoron. While your breakfast cereal or sandwich bread may boast “low fat!” and “high fiber!” it wreaks havoc on your blood sugar and contributes to inflammation. Additionally, the consumption of grains perpetuates carbohydrate malabsorption (i.e. indigestion, leaky gut, slowed digestion). This is because the starches in grains damages the vili and microvilli in the small intestine, which are the finger-like projections responsible for absorbing nutrients. Again, choose with care here. Opt for grains in their most basic, raw, real form—sprouted, rolled, soaked. Soak your rice and beans for quality nutrition. Opt for sprouted grains (often found in the freezer section) as a better choice .
- No Sugar. Today we are told: “Sugar is the devil!” Our society definitely is more aware of the sugar crisis in America (the average American consumes upwards of 140-170 lbs. of sugar each year—that’s equivalent to about 6 ounces each day (about 170 grams). So what do we do? Buy sugar-free products of course, right!? Diet coke, sugar-free yogurt, sugar-free yogurt, sugar-free granola bars, sugar-free pudding, sugar-free bread…the problem herein lies that many sugar free products end up replacing the actual sugar with fake, artificial sugars—which are still equally as damaging to the body. Check out Chris Kesser’s article here for a more in-depth look at artificial sweeteners. On this same front, as well, I have to mention the debate surrounding fruit. Fruit is ‘good’ and fruit is ‘bad’–depending on who you talk to about it. Fruit has too much sugar or fruit is part of a healthy diet, rich in fresh produce. What do we believe? Well..both. Fruit DOES have sugar–but that sugar, consumed in moderation, is natural sugar that the body is able to process in moderation (think 1-2 servings per day, as opposed to fruit at all times throughout the day). Fruit most definitely has a role in a healthy nutrition plan. I used to be terrified of fruit–bananas, apples, berries, oranges. Sugar=fat in my opinion. However, when I began to try a little bit here or there–a half banana with almond butter, or some baked apples cooked in my crockpot with my pork tenderloin, or a handful of fresh berries in a smoothie I made at home, I discovered…fat did not happen. Stop stressing whether or not fruit should be part of your daily intake. In moderation, along with moderation of other complex carbohydrates (like sweet potatoes, potatoes, starches, etc.), fruit can have a place. Hello, balance.
- Low-fat. “Fat makes you fat.” From the time we learned about nutrition labels—or at least looked at the back of one—we saw the word: Fat, and instantly associated it with ‘fat.’ Low-fat is another one of those terms boasted on the labels and packages on food in our grocery stores, menu items and even doctor’s offices. What if I told you though that fat doesn’t make you fat? It’s true. Rather, the more quality fats you consume, the stronger your own cells and metabolic processes become. I won’t get too scientific here, but your body was designed to function and operate off of fat as a primary energy source (hence why it is the most ‘dense’ or all nutrients—i.e. gives you the most energy in smaller amounts when consumed). Your body, in fact, thrives off of fat (in moderation, of course, within the scope of a balanced diet). Far too often, health conscious people neglect one of the healthiest nutrients for them—fat. Essential fatty acids are those which your body cannot produce on its own, and in order to function at your best (i.e. brain chemistry, energy levels, metabolism, digestive processes), you neeeeed fat. Additionally, fat slows down the absorption of glucose into the bloodstream and prevents sugar highs and sugar crashes. (think: apple with raw almond butter; a small sweet potato with coconut butter; raw yogurt with raw nuts and fresh berries). Healthy fats include:
- Grassfed butter
- Tallow, lard, duck fat
- Coconut oil
- Coconut butter
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Raw nuts/seeds
- Raw nutbutter (no peanut butter)
- Pumpkin seed, avocado, walnut oil (plant-based oils)
- No hydrogenated oil, canola oil, vegetable oil
- Stay away from saturated fats (it raises cholesterol). Quite the contrary, saturated fats can improve your cholesterol. Unfortunately, with the invention and development of Statin Drugs, we’ve been told that high-cholesterol is bad for our hearts (i.e. avoid egg yolks, animal meats, butter). In fact, in the early 2000s, with the release of some new Statin drugs, the ‘healthy cholesterol levels’ at your doctor’s office were changed from the mid-200’s to ‘200 or below.’ This documentary is a good peak at how the drug industry and our ‘health’ and food industry have linked arms to keep us from eating foods that are in actuality not as bad as believed. Also, this article is a good resource for some more digging around Statins—and our actual need for saturated fats. Bottom line? Eat the yolks.
- Get in your dairy for calcium. Dairy provokes an inflammatory response in the gut, which can adversely effect how you digest and absorb not just dairy products, but all your food. Furthermore, this chronic inflammation can cause “microperforation” (tiny holes) of the intestinal lining, allowing dairy proteins and other foreign substances to cross into the bloodstream (where they do not belong). This causes an immune response as the body attacks these foreign proteins, and is linked to autoimmune conditions such as asthma, lupus, allergies, arthritis, psoriasis and acne.” In short, cow’s milk is for a baby cow, not you, or really even your kiddo (passed breast feeding). Or, if you do consume, it’s at least meant to be consumed in the rawest, most organic forms. So how do you get your calcium? Plenty of ways! Eat your greens (especially collards, kale, turnip greens, broccoli, bok choy and steamed/cooked spinach), drink bone broth, mineral water, and choose full-fat dairy sources (full fat, plain yogurt, organic full fat milk or goat’s milk, full fat raw cheese).
- Any fluid=water intake for the day. Water is water is water. And your body needs at least ½ your bodyweight in ounces as a general rule of thumb. Coffee and tea are diuretics that actually pull fluid from your body. Even herbal teas require more processing by your kidneys. The same goes for juice, sodas, diet sodas, and any other liquid that is not water. Invest $7-$20 bucks in a good BPA free water bottle (filtered even better), and quench your thirst with high quality H20.
- Eat small meals frequently throughout the day. How often have you heard, “It’s best to eat small, frequent meals to balance your blood sugar”? This is a debated topic, however, larger, balanced, less frequent meals to help regulate hunger hormones as well as allow for optimal digestion to occur (think: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner, with maybe a small nibble or two if you are genuinely hungry). There is no real proof from studies to show that smaller, more frequent meals improves health. (On a side note: this is not about ‘restricting’ your intake either, nor feeling deprived. Larger, balanced meals should sustain you—and every BODY is different). If you are used to eating 5-6, even 7 times per day, this is definitely not something to transition to over night (especially if you have issues like adrenal fatigue, chronic fatigue, autoimmune disease, inflammation, disordered eating, and/or compromised digestion). If you are used to snacking frequently, begin to shift your focus to more balanced, full meals, and gradually balance your eating habits. Snacking is not a BAD thing—but as you begin to regulate your blood sugar however, you will find that your body begins to balance and use the energy you give it,
If you have any other ‘lies’ you’ve heard or been told, drop me a line at [email protected]
Would love to explore this with you, or perhaps post it as a blog topic for another day.