March is National Nutrition Month, and in my recent work for an organization that provides nutritional counseling, I learned a lot about healthy eating, weight loss and wellness and, no, my extensive knowledge about losing weight is not just from decades of back-and-forth dieting.
In this world of gaslighting and alternative nutrition facts, there are a lot of myths about healthy eating that have been perpetuated by popular culture or trendy diet plans … not that I personally pay attention to what’s popular or trendy, you understand.
But seriously, did you know that we’re supposed to eat carbs? That’s right, our bodies need carbohydrates to work correctly, including proper brain function (which might explain a lot to those of you who’ve been around when I’m on a diet).
Here are some other myth-busters of what I thought I knew:
Don’t eat potatoes. Fake news! Potatoes themselves are not fattening – which is great news for a girl who grew up in the San Luis Valley and loves her some potatoes. It’s when we embellish by slathering on the butter and sour cream that we add a lot of calories. (I will have to work on this one.)
We’ll gain weight if we eat after 8 p.m. Myth! According to the Registered Dietitian Nutritionists where I worked, there is no “magic time” to stop eating at night (also good news to a person whose circadian rhythm regular misses a few beats) as long as I’m not eating too many calories during the day. Oh … well, there’s that.
Health foods are better for us. Alternative fact! And just how do we define “health food,” anyway? So-called health foods – such as granola with added sugar, for example – can be just as high in calories, fat, and salt as other foods, and are often more expensive. Just because they call themselves health foods doesn’t mean they really are.
We all need to drink eight glasses of water each day. Myth! Drinking eight glasses of water is overrated. The actual amount of water you should drink is based on your age, gender, weight and activity level. One guideline is to drink in ounces an amount equal to half your weight in pounds, up to 100 ounces per day. For some people, that’s fewer than 8 glasses, and more than 8 glasses each day for others. Mine varies with my weight (see above).
Fresh foods are always healthier than frozen/canned foods. Gaslighting! Because fresh foods may lose nutrients while sitting in the grocery store (or your refrigerator), both canned and frozen vegetables can be good choices. Frozen foods are usually flash-frozen shortly after harvest and retain the most nutrients possible. Canned foods are often processed quickly and retain most of their nutrients. But check to make sure that fruits and vegetables aren’t packed with “syrup” or salt!
The lesson in all of this? Not everything you are asked to believe is actually true. Examine nutrition labels for yourself, and research sources you can trust, with science that backs them up.
Truth is never overrated.