5 Food Myths to Ditch!

By Asha

We are constantly bombarded with posts and advertisements and articles with catchy titles…

These 5 foods are making you fat
Eat this everyday to lose weight
10 foods you should never buy
Do this every day to burn belly fat

And so on and so forth into eternity. The thing is that there is RARELY any scientific evidence to back these claims. All these things serve to do is to help you spiral deeper and more quickly into a state of constant food guilt.

Here are 5 things I want you to stop saying to yourself. I know…another catchy title but this time there is evidence, explanations and a genuine desire to see you become healthier and happier. The only product this article sells is self-love!

1. I trained today so I earned this treat
When we compartmentalise exercise and food into a reward and punishment system, we set ourselves up for failure. Nutrition and exercise are key factors in determining our health and happiness and when we label food and working out as good and bad or success and failure, we forget the reasons we do them in the first place.

Exercise should to a certain degree exist separate from food. If you have specific body composition or performance goals then yes, they go hand in hand, but when you exercise and eat for general health and wellbeing, one should not dictate what you do with the other. Exercise to feel good, strong and confident. Eat to feel nourished, energised and healthy (both mentally and physically).

2. It’s 7pm, no more carbs!
Carbohydrates are the most vilified of the macronutrients. They are responsible for most of the energy we store in our bodies and use during the day. When we eat a meal containing carbohydrates our blood sugar levels rise, our pancreas responds by sending insulin to transport the sugar to be stored as energy to be used later.

Given that after dinner we tend to be sedentary (sitting on the couch then sleeping) it isn’t entirely incorrect that a carbohydrate heavy meal at night time would lead to weight gain however unless you are in a consistent and sustained caloric surplus, any weight gain from carbs before bed is temporary and can be attributed to an increase in water retention and bloating as well as the blood sugar spike and storage. For clarity let me repeat myself, unless you are in a consistent caloric surplus, eating carbohydrates in the evening will not lead to weight gain.

3. I can’t have fruit; I am going sugar free!
Fruit contains sugar. However, there is a big difference between the natural sugars that are found in fruit and the sugars that are found in packaged and highly processed foods. Fruit contains two types of sugars, glucose and fructose. Glucose causes a spike in blood sugar levels and is metabolised by insulin from the pancreas. Fructose does not raise blood sugar levels and is broken down by enzymes from your liver. Compared to any processed food, the sugar in fruit is negligible. Our bodies also metabolise the sugars from fruit far slower,
leading to a smaller increase in blood sugar and sustained release of energy. The sugars found in processed foods are metabolised very quickly leading to a shard spike in blood sugar followed by a surge in energy and a sharp crash – this perpetuates the cycle of eating more of these products to sustain the energy high.

Consuming whole fruits comes with a myriad of beneficial nutrients that include vitamins, minerals, fiber and water. We can all benefit from eating whole fruits regularly.

4. I ate one (insert tasty snack here) so the day is ruined!
How disciplined are you? Have you set yourself any goals? Do you intend to stick to them? We talk quite often about how you shouldn’t wait for motivation to come to you but instead have the discipline to do what you need regardless. If a day or a week can be ruined by eating something you deem ‘bad’ then perhaps you need to re-examine how determined you are in prioritising your health. I often talk about how labelling foods as ‘good’ and ‘bad’ can lead to cycles of food guilt, obsessive food-focus, restriction and over-eating. Allowing a day of nutritious eating to be ruined by a ‘bad’ food, feeds into that cycle. If you remove that power from food, you can begin to acknowledge that all foods have a place in a balanced diet. It takes discipline to prioritize your health, both mental and physical, and completely giving up on your health because of one thing you ate can be indicative of a lack of discipline.

Refocus yourself, why are you exercising and eating nutritious foods? When you
have your ‘why’ you have the power to navigate these situations and come out the other side with acceptance and focus.

5. Low fat and fat free means healthier, right?
After carbohydrate, fat is the scariest macronutrient. FAT. Thanks to societal pressures for women to take up as little physical space as possible, the word itself makes you feel…uncomfortable. The fact of the matter is that fat plays a vital role in healthy bodily functions, including brain function, the ability to absorb vitamins and minerals, building of your cell membranes, muscle function and blood clotting.

There are different types of fats that we consume. Beneficial fats include mono and poly unsaturated fat. Fats we should avoid or consume very sparingly include processed trans fats and to some degree, saturated fats. Trans fats are a byproduct of a process that turns liquid fat into solid to prevent it from going rancid. Trans fats have no known health benefit and there is therefore no ‘healthy’ level of consumption. Saturated fat, which are  found in red meat, whole dairy-products, coconut oil and other processed baked foods may be harmful if consumed in high amounts (leading to elevated cholesterol and an increase chance of developing cardio vascular disease) but poses little health risks if consumed as a maximum of 10% of total calories.

Products that are ‘low fat’ must adhere to specific requirements for grams of fat per 100g of product but ‘reduced fat’ products must adhere to a percentage value compared to another product, meaning they can still contain a significant amount of if there is another product with a higher fat content. To read more about food labels head to the Dieticians Association of Australia website. 

So, you may think you are choosing the healthier option but unless you carefully read the nutrition label you could be consuming high amounts of unhealthy fats. Low fat and reduced fat products usually contain significantly higher amounts of sugar than their full fat counterparts in order to produce the same taste. And finally, mono and poly-unsaturated fat helps you to feel satiated so when you reduce the quantity that you consume you are more likely to over-eat later as you feel hungry faster.

Part 2 will follow soon but for now work on identifying and acknowledging when these thoughts creep into your mind. Identify how it makes you feel to think this way and weather it serves your health, both mental and physical. If you really struggle then reach out to someone else! Sometimes an objective third party can help you to reset when you just can’t do it yourself.

Resources:
https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/the-truth-about-fats-bad-and-good
https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/325550#fruit-sugars-vs-other-sugars

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Our founder

Ange Drake is an personal trainer, women’s empowerment coach and fitness blogger in the northern suburbs of Melbourne. She is the director of one of the few womens’ only strength training gyms in Melbourne, 23W. Ange helps women to learn how to use strength based training, nutritional strategies and a positive mindset to transform their bodies, relationship with food and mind.

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