This National Nutrition Month, you’ll hear encouragement to eat more vegetables, stay away from processed foods, and get active — but the habits you strive to achieve may be based on assumptions. Below, registered dietitian Danae Gross debunks six nutrition myths to help you out this month and onward.
1. Carbs Are Bad.
How many times have you heard someone say “I don’t eat carbs, they’re bad for you,” while they tear into a bacon-wrapped date (which has carbs, BTW)? Unfortunately, carbs have a bad reputation. Avoiding carbs may help with rapid weight loss initially, but it’s not practical or necessary for longterm success. Most of us require some level of carbohydrates to function at our best over the long term. Quality carbs include whole grains (when tolerated), fruit, vegetables, potatoes, beans and legumes.
2. You Have to Count Calories to Lose Weight.
Calories in, calories out, right? The physiology of metabolism is a lot more complicated than most people realize. Not only that, counting calories undermines appetite awareness and mindful eating. Instead of calorie counting, utilize the hand-measure system. Palm size for protein portions, fist size for veggie portions, cupped hand for carb portions, and thumb for fat portions. Not only are your hands portable, this will work for foods without a label.
3. Eating Healthy is Expensive.
OK, so fresh fruits/vegetables, lean meats, and whole grains typically cost more than processed and fast foods. But, there are still ways to eat healthy on a budget. Try frozen fruits and vegetables in place of fresh produce when you’re able. Another benefit to frozen foods: They last longer and will prevent food/money waste.
4. You Need 1gm of Protein for Each Pound of Body Weight.
Seems like everyone is doing this to bulk up those biceps, but most people do not need this much protein. The recommended daily allowance varies for adult men/women, but typically there is a range of 0.25 to 0.75 gm per pound of body weight. This means that a 150-lb person would need roughly 38gm to 112gm of protein. THIS INCLUDES YOU, GYM GO-ERS.
5. You Should Drink One Gallon of Water a Day.
PUT DOWN THE OLD MILK JUG. Is water needed? Yes. Do you need 1 gallon of water a day? Probably not. The majority of healthy people adequately meet their hydration needs by consuming 2 to 3 liters of total water — which includes all beverages and foods. Drink coffee in the morning? This counts!
6. Artificial Sweeteners Help with Sugar Cravings.
Although artificial sweeteners are lower calorie, they do not help with sugar cravings. You may have tickled those taste buds, but your brain knows the difference between real sugar and fake sugar. Try sparkling water, a small piece of dark chocolate, or a piece of fruit to combat those sugar cravings.
Nutrition is not a one size fits all solution to living a healthy life. For more personalized nutrition advice, see a registered dietitian at FirstHealth.