5 More Food Myths To Ditch!
The reasoning behind breaking this into two parts is simple. Big changes happen gradually. We cannot expect to overhaul our entire thought process around food and eating in a short time. It takes a while to acknowledge when we have detrimental thought patterns and even longer to practice shifting the way we think. Hopefully you have had a chance to consider if and when you use the previous 5 thought patterns and are ready to take on a few more!
1. Egg whites good. Yolks evil.
I have definitely been guilty of this in my less educated days. Eggs are an incredible source of protein, healthy fats and micronutrients but as always, the human race has found a way to vilify something that has nothing wrong with it. One justification for avoiding evil egg yolks is cholesterol. Yes, egg yolks contain cholesterol but that doesn’t make them unhealthy. Cholesterol is a structural molecule that is vital to cell membranes and the production of major hormones (like estrogen) among other things. The more cholesterol you consume, the less your body produces. For that reason eating a few eggs in a day isn’t going to cause a massive spike in cholesterol. Your body naturally self-regulates the amount of cholesterol present! With a balanced diet and a generally healthy lifestyle you won’t experience massive changes in your cholesterol level, however if you consume high amounts of dietary cholesterol then you will experience a moderate rise. Egg whites contain less cholesterol and proportionately more protein but are lacking in important nutrients that are found in the yolk and you will need to consume more to feel satiated.
2. I have a birthday dinner tonight, so I won’t have lunch.
At what point did it become common to accept hunger now to earn future satiety? Why does one meal have to be earned by removing another? We lead busy and social lives so our diet and lifestyle should co-exist with that. Skipping meals has been shown to cause overeating or bingeing at a later time so you are definitely doing more harm than good in skipping lunch to make room in your caloric balance for a birthday dinner. And that is just one example, it goes in the other direction too. You experience an easter full of chocolate and hot cross buns and once they are gone you dramatically overhaul your diet to make up for what you consumed in the past. This leads to a cycle of overeating, food guilt and restricting which can be hard to get out of. Some useful strategies to deal with this are:
– Remember that a single day does not and should not impact an entire week. Compartmentalise events and once they happen leave them in the past, don’t drag them with you throughout the week as a reminder of weakness or guilt.
– Acknowledge that social events that involve food are a common part of life and should be treated as any other meal, not an excuse to binge on unhealthy foods but as a chance to socialise and enjoy tasty food you didn’t have to cook yourself!
– Don’t go into a birthday dinner or brunch having starved yourself however briefly to earn it. If you wake up hungry before a brunch, have a snack. If you get hungry before you have a birthday dinner, have a snack. Food is not something to be taken away as punishment and given as a reward. It is something we require to be healthy and happy.
– Be kind to yourself! Food is fuel, don’t deny your body what it needs to function.
3. It’s not my fault, I am addicted to chocolate (or cookies, or toast…)
Ahhhh the blame game. Addiction is a dangerous term to throw around but we all do it, myself included. I know that I have said I am addicted to chocolate and addicted to toast in the past and the truth is. I’m bloody well not. I like those foods, I enjoy eating them but unfortunately I have decided they are ‘bad’ and therefore needed (as many people do) to find an excuse or justification or something to blame their consumption on. The thing is, it isn’t your fault. Fault is not involved in enjoying specific foods. It is just preference and taste buds! An addiction is something that you cannot control or struggle greatly to control. Food addiction is a real thing just like drug or alcohol addiction but sadly we have commandeered this phrase to help us feel better when we indulge. This phrase circles back to the notion of food guilt. You shouldn’t need to excuse the consumption of a certain food by saying it is an addiction. This can be viewed as restrictive behaviour or disordered eating (not the same as an eating disorder). All foods have a place in a balanced diet, you can include them when you are tracking to consume specific macro splits or calories. You can include them when intuitive eating or when practicing mindful eating. Remove the excuse and try to simply enjoy food. Easier said than done I know, but it is the first step to becoming healthier, happier and freer.
4. I should ditch gluten to be healthier.
Unless you are celiac or present with gluten intolerance or sensitivity YOU.DO.NOT.NEED.TO.AVOID.GLUTEN.
Gluten is a non-specific name for proteins found in the majority of wheat products. Gluten is responsible for maintaining the shape of products by holding them together like a glue. If you can consume gluten with no reactions but elect not to for ‘health’ reasons, you can actually do yourself harm! Many breads and cereals are fortified with important nutrients like B vitamins, calcium and iron so if these were consistent in your diet and then you removed them completely you may experience deficiencies which will need to be addressed by further dietary changes or supplements. More effort will be required to consume enough dietary fibre if you remove breads and cereals from your diet as they are a huge daily source of fibre which is important for gut and bowel health. Gluten-free foods are also far more expensive so consider if you are simply throwing money away for no health benefits. And finally, people who have proper gluten intolerances and sensitivities are no longer taken seriously by many cafes and restaurants due to the fad of going gluten free, so consider whether by jumping on this bandwagon you are inadvertently making life harder for the people who experience genuine pain and ill-health from eating gluten.
5. But it’s the weekend…I will start again on Monday.
We often talk about priorities and this way of thinking goes straight to the heart of the matter. Are you prioritising your health, fitness and overall well being? Do you genuinely want to make long lasting beneficial changes to your lifestyle? Are you willing to put in the effort required? No? Then I bet you have said that phrase before. If you truly want to prioritise your health then the weekend should be no different to the working week. No week should be different to any other because you should be consistently making small, positive changes that lead to long lasting benefits. The weekend VS weekday example is just one demonstration of a lack of motivation or inability to prioritise your health. Many people apply this same mindset to entire holidays, the christmas period, birthday weeks (why are they a thing!?), Easter and new years. Health and wellbeing cannot be sidelined whenever it suits you or you won’t make any long lasting improvements. That being said it can be enormously beneficial to take diet breaks, commence intuitive eating, to relax and workout less on holidays but you can be assured that a week long holiday of over eating, drinking too much and being completely sedentary will lead to feelings of guilt, shame and irritation. If you do this you are far more likely to enter into that oh so common binge and restrict cycle. Now, I am not trying to vilify relaxing on holiday, eating the foods you want to or not going to the gym for a week. We all need mental and physical breaks. But it is when these breaks turn into blow outs and excuses for treating your body badly that you see problems. It comes down to taking care of your physical and mental health. If what you are doing shows that it isn’t a priority for you then consider how you can change that. Small changes and habits over time lead to big and long lasting lifestyle changes so kick the excuses to the curb and show your physical and mental health some love by putting it first, not just monday-friday but on the weekend too!
I hope you found these useful and are able to make changes to the way you think about food. These are all things that I, myself have said or done or considered or worshipped but I am happy to say that I am making changes away from them. If I can, then you can too!
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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