No one would argue that eating a healthy diet is important not only for your health and longevity but for your emotional health as well. So much is determined by the type of nutrition that you are giving your body, and nutritional science is evolving almost daily as we learn more about how different nutrients interact with the human body.
However, despite all our knowledge about foods and healthy eating, there is still a lot of inaccurate information out there that often leaves people confused, frustrated, and even malnourished despite a certain diet’s claim of healthy.
As a nutritional expert and coach, I’ve sure seen my share of healthy eating myths and bad dieting advice over the years, and I work tirelessly to correct said myths and misinformation with the clients I work with. I hope this article will help you make sense of healthy eating and separate myth from reality.
The 5 Most Common Myths About Healthy Eating
1. There is One “Best” Healthy Diet (The Holy Grail of Healthy Eating)
The human genome is complex, and the human body is highly adaptive. People are different and can thrive on a variety of different diets. There is no “one size fits all healthy diet.”
Some people are healthier when they follow a plant-based diet, while other people have excellent health and blood markers, eating some animal protein. For anyone, diet to claim superiority over another is a myth.
2. Vegetarians Can Eat as Much as They Want.
Many people fall for the myth that if they switch to vegetarian or vegan, they can eat as many vegetarian foods as they want because plant-based foods are so healthy.
While many plant-based foods are nutritionally dense, they all still contain calories. The human body needs a finite amount of energy to maintain itself each day, and this varies based on a person’s individual stats and exercise amount. Eating more than your body’s energy needs will result in energy storage in the form of fat. It doesn’t matter if that extra energy is coming from plants or animals; it will be stored as fat if there’s too much.
3. Eating Clean Will Solve All Your Health Issues.
Some people are told that if they only eat organic and non-processed foods, all their health issues will disappear. This is simply not true and not backed by science. The human body is complex, and so are health issues since health problems can be both genetic and environmental in nature.
Eating very nutritious foods and avoiding pesticide residue and such can give your body the nutrients it needs for optimal health, but it doesn’t mean that such a diet will cure all diseases.
4. If You Eat Sugar and White flour, Your Diet Isn’t Healthy
So many of my clients come to me so afraid to eat anything sweet or a piece of bread, or they email me and tell me how guilty they feel for having a cookie.
A healthy diet has room for treats!
You can still eat healthily and have some sugar and some bread. It’s what you’re eating the majority of the time that matters. Suppose 85% of your diet is coming from fresh foods, including a variety of vegetables and fruit. You can reserve 15% for foods that might not be that nutritious but do bring you joy and pleasure. You can be in great health and eat a cookie or a piece of cake from time to time.
5. One Macronutrient Group is Superior to the Others
Some healthy diets promote eating very high protein, while other healthy diets promote eating very high fat and almost zero carbs as a way to achieve ultimate health.
The truth is that your body likes healthy levels of all three macronutrient groups to be at their best. Protein is needed for tissue maintenance and development, carbs are the body’s preferred fuel, and fat is vital for cell regeneration, hormone production, and brain and nervous tissue health. Any diet that has an extreme approach with one or more of the macro groups is missing the mark.
A Healthy Diet is All About Balance
I always advise my nutritional coaching clients to avoid any eating regimen that is “extreme” in any fashion. Extreme or highly restrictive diets only set people up for failure, frustration, and obsession.
A healthy diet is a balanced diet. It takes into account your unique nutritional needs and allows you to eat all foods in moderation. As I mentioned earlier, a healthy diet is more concerned with how you eat most of the time than all of the time, so it has room for a variety of foods.
- Yes, eat a lot of vegetables.
- Yes, avoid foods contaminated with pesticides if you can.
- Yes, limit the amount of refined sugars and carbs you eat.
But, recognizing that a healthy diet has room for moderation doesn’t have to be restrictive.
The healthiest diet for you is one that makes you feel your best physically, emotionally, and spiritually.