Fact and Fiction in Nutrition
We’ve been marketed to for so long it’s difficult to know what’s true and what isn’t when it comes to healthy eating. For decades, we thought we were doing the right thing, but now, we need to rethink our choices. Here are just a few of the fictitious “healthy rules” to reconsider:
“Milk Does the Body Good.” Remember this ad campaign? It was a stroke of genius, followed by “Got Milk?” The American Dairy Association spent billions to keep humans drinking milk from another species. Even baby calves stop drinking their mother’s milk after they are weaned, so why do we continue? Many, many people, (most of my clients and myself included), lack the proper enzymes to break down dairy. If you are one of them and continue to eat and drink milk products, numerous problems can arise. Health issues can be resolved from putting down the blocks of cheese and switching to non-dairy milks. And no, milk is NOT the best way to get calcium—dark leafy greens, almonds, cabbage, and sesame seeds are best.
Diet Soda Helps You Lose Weight. Just because diet sodas have zero calories or zero sugar, the damage they can do to your body is far from zero. Artificial sweeteners confuse your brain into making it more difficult to count calories during the day. Your tongue tastes sweet, but since zero calories are consumed, the brain forces the body to find and eat those “missing” calories via cravings or just plain hunger. Excess calories = weight gain. The unnaturally sweet additives make the pancreas pump out insulin even though there is no glucose. This excess insulin is not used, so the body stores it as fat. Excess fat = weight gain. Research has shown that one diet soda a day deregulates blood sugar control in diabetics. Excess blood glucose = weight gain. Drink water.
Fat Makes You Fat. The fat-free craze began in the 1980s which led to wider waistbands and the serious decline of our health, especially in children. When food manufacturers take the fat out of foods that naturally contain fats, that food is a poor substitute of its original form. To get it to taste good so you’ll buy it, sugar is normally added. And if anything is making us fat and unhealthy fast, it is not fat—it’s sugar. No one develops heart disease, cancer, or becomes obese from eggs, bacon, and butter. Healthy fats, in the proper portions, keep you full and can curb cravings.
Carbs Are Bad. Low carb diets are still all the rage for some reason (see above). But for true, sustainable health, it is important to find BALANCE with complex carbohydrates, lean proteins, and healthy fats. Any program that demonizes one or more macronutrients is probably not useful in the long run. Whole grain complex carbohydrates provide fuel to the body and brain, and can be stored for future use. The refined and sugary carbohydrates are the dangerous types that cause weight gain and ill health.
The Mind and Body Are Separate. We all have two brains: the central nervous system composed of the brain and spinal cord, and the enteric nervous system located in the gut. The enteric nervous system initiates and sustains the digestive process. Signals from the brain, such as stress and anxiety, can have dramatic effects on how well it works. The brain receives chemical messages from the gut, which can affect your mood and emotions. The majority of serotonin (the feel-good hormone) is actually made in your gut. Your mental health affects your gut health, and your gut health can affect your mental health. It’s all connected.
There is One Perfect Diet. You think you just haven’t found that one way, or plan, or diet that will make you feel good, lose weight, and be healthy forever. You keep trying different programs and when they don’t work long term, you blame yourself instead of the plan. Each of us has our own very specific body chemistry and makeup, and there is not one plan that will work without customization. What works for me may not work for you. I have tried almost everything out there and remind myself and my clients that guilt, remorse, stress, deprivation, or self-bullying is never an ingredient for a healthy lifestyle. Find what works for you, what makes you feel strong, sustained, and happy.
If you need help, let me know.