14 Common Health Food Myths that May Surprise You

14 Common Health Food Myths that May Surprise You

It’s time to set the record straight on some health food myths

The world of nutrition is always changing. We are constantly learning new information about food science, from the ways food affects our bodies to which foods and eating habits are considered ‘healthy.'

A lot of times, this means what we once thought was healthy actually isn’t, and foods we were told to avoid can be good for us.

Unfortunately, our old or uninformed ways of thinking about food don’t always change with the times. And a lot of common myths and misconceptions about our eating habits remain prevalent.

This article discusses myths about food and sheds some light on why these myths aren’t true.

Myth: Fat makes you fat

Spread of various whole foods

If you think you have to completely cut fat from your diet to lose weight, you’re not alone. Many food marketers and diet industry professionals have made a living promoting fat-free foods as a healthy alternative to foods that contain fat.

But the truth is your body can’t survive without fat. Fat has essential nutrients and energy, plus it needs fat to absorb specific vitamins. Eating healthy fats at each meal in moderation can also help keep you fuller longer.

What’s important to know when it comes to fat is which type of fats you consume. Generally speaking, unsaturated fats are healthy, saturated fats are OK in moderation, and trans fats are considered ‘bad’ fats and should be avoided when trying to lose weight.

Myth: Fresh fruit and veggies are healthier than frozen

Image of various frozen veggies

It's often said that when it comes to fruits and vegetables that ‘fresh is best.’ However, before they’re frozen, produce is picked at peak ripeness. This means frozen fruits and veggies generally have the same amount of nutrition as fresh and that freezing them can help retain nutrients.

By freezing your fruits and veggies, or buying them already frozen, you can eat them at peak ripeness year-round.

Myth: Natural flavors are ‘all natural’  

In many cases, natural flavors aren’t exactly ‘natural.’

The FDA describes natural flavors as those that derive their aroma or flavor from plant or animal sources. Whereas artificial flavors come from man-made chemicals.

Unfortunately, flavor manufacturers do not have to disclose their ingredients. They can add synthetic solvents, preservatives, emulsifiers, carriers, and other additives to a flavor that qualifies as natural under current regulations.

These natural flavors are considered to be “generally recognized as safe,” according to the FDA. However, if you consume a lot of items that contain this ingredient, and the one you are consuming contains chemicals, it may be harder for you to lose weight.

If you want to be safe when it comes to foods with ‘natural flavors’, stick with certified organic foods or foods with the label ‘organic flavors’ or ‘organic natural flavors’, since they are more strictly regulated and must consist almost entirely of organic ingredients.

Myth: The fewer carbohydrates you eat, the healthier you are

Similar to fats, carbohydrates have a bad reputation in part because of the diet industry and food marketing. But they are another necessary source of energy and are perfectly healthy, in the right serving size. It just depends on which carbohydrates you’re eating.

Carbohydrates can be broken down into two types: simple and complex.

Simple carbohydrates include refined grains like white rice and flour, as well as foods high in sugar that cause a quick rise in blood sugar.

Complex carbohydrates include fruits, vegetables, beans, legumes, and whole grains. Your body breaks these carbs down slowly, causing a more gradual rise in blood sugar. Complex carbs have essential fiber, vitamins, and minerals your body needs to be healthy.

Maintaining a healthy body weight has never been about eliminating carbs from your diet. It’s choosing to eat the right ones.

Note, while vegetables are technically a carbohydrate, GOLO separates veggies from the carbohydrates group. Examples of healthy carbohydrates that are not vegetables include: fruit, whole wheat pasta, brown rice, etc.

Myth: Alternative milk is healthier than dairy milk

Image of jar of milk

Don’t assume that alternative milks, like almond, coconut, oat, or soy milk contain the same nutrients as cow’s milk. Many don’t provide enough of certain key nutrients like protein, potassium and vitamin D.

However, nondairy beverages can be a good alternative for some allergic or intolerant to milk. Just be sure to check the label for sugar content, vitamins, etc. You want to stay away from the ones that contain a lot of unnatural ingredients and oils.

Myth: Eight glasses of water a day is the magic number.

Woman drinking water

Basic hydration needs entirely depend on the individual. Most healthy people can stay hydrated by drinking water and other fluids whenever they feel thirsty. For some people, fewer than eight glasses a day might be enough.

You may need more or less water depending on exercise and activity level, diet, and the temperature or season. 

Remember, you can still get water into your system from foods like fruits, vegetables, soups, etc.

If you prefer something with flavor but don’t want the empty calories of sugary drinks, try infused water.

Myth: All bread is unhealthy

Side-view of loaf of bread

Bread made from 100% whole grains has essential vitamins and minerals as well as numerous health benefits. There are plenty of healthy bread choices that you can include in your diet on the GOLO for Life Plan.

Quick tip: Multigrain, whole grain, and whole wheat are not the same. The only bread with no refined flours will be labeled as ‘100% whole grain’ or ‘100% whole wheat’.

Myth: Eating once a day is a good way to lose weight.

It’s important to eat regularly. This helps to make sure your metabolism is functioning properly and working to help you lose weight.

When your eating habits are inconsistent or infrequent, your body goes into ‘starvation mode.’ This means your body will begin to hold onto calories. While eating once a day could result in temporary weight loss, over time, your weight loss may plateau or possibly reverse.

Myth: ‘Light’ and ‘non-fat’ dairy is healthier than full-fat dairy

Top view of various dairy products

There are a few reasons why full-fat dairy is the healthier choice over reduced-fat.

For starters, a lot of the flavor in dairy products comes from its fat content. When fat is stripped away, so is the flavor. In order to make up for the loss in flavor, some manufacturers replace the fat that has been removed with sugar, ‘flavors’, and other additives.

Fat is also what helps the body process naturally occurring sugar and absorb the vitamins found in dairy. When it is removed, the body can’t digest and process fats the way it should.

Read more about why full-fat dairy is healthier than reduced-fat here.

Myth: A juice cleanse is a good way to start a diet

Juice cleanses typically involve consuming only liquids made from fruits or vegetables for a certain amount of time without eating solid food.

Juice cleanses can lead to short-term weight loss, but this doesn't mean it's a healthy way to lose weight. The rapid weight loss you see from a juice cleanse isn’t healthy or sustainable.

Myth: Gluten-free foods are healthier than foods with gluten.

While some people need to keep a gluten-free diet due to food intolerance, foods with gluten in them don’t necessarily mean they’re unhealthy.

Gluten is a protein found in wheat and other grains. Gluten itself, especially gluten found in whole grains, is not bad for healthy people whose bodies can tolerate it, and can provide protein, fiber, and nutrients. 

Myth: It’s healthy to cut out a particular food group

Woman in grocey store looking at items

If you think you’ll have an easier time losing weight by either cutting carbs or fats, think again.

Cutting out certain food groups has never been an ideal weight loss plan. That’s why at GOLO we focus on a gradual weight loss that happens by eating properly-portioned, well-balanced meals. The bottom line, when you eliminate food groups, you put your body at risk for a number of nutritional deficiencies.


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