Food myths, what are they and why do we believe them? 🤦 There are so many myths regarding food in today’s society that many people fail to understand. Some of these myths include dieting techniques, what certain foods will do to your body and how certain foods will make you “healthier”. Here’s some common myths that I see:
Dieting Techniques 👎
A prime example of a dieting technique that has been debunked to actually work is eating all of your calories in one meal, or “intermittent fasting”. Despite the fact that there has been research to support intermittent fasting, many people attempt to do this weight loss technique incorrectly. As a result, they do not receive the proper calories and nutrients that their body needs to function properly.
Another unhealthy dieting technique is counting your calories. (1) Although this action is in an attempt to promote a healthy lifestyle, it usually just results in more stress, guilt, confusion and makes people overwhelmed by food. 🤦 In fact, many registered dieticians don’t recommend counting our calories for these reasons and even go as far to say that it does far more harm than good. Plus, understanding what calories are as energy and fuel for the body is much more useful and often misunderstood.
Furthermore, there is a huge myth going around that eating calories after a certain time is “bad” for you. This theory is a complete myth and can cause people to practically starve themselves because they don’t want to eat after a certain time. Although it is true that it isn’t good for your stomach to eat directly before you fall asleep, it is perfectly fine to have food a few hours before you sleep and it will not result in an unhealthy weight gain.
Impact of Certain Foods on Body 🥖
There are so many incorrect myths in society about what certain foods do to your body. First, the myth that carbs are bad is completely false. If you overindulge in carbs on a daily basis it can result in weight gain and an unhealthy lifestyle. However, carbs provide you with a variety of nutrients that act to provide energy and protect against disease (2). Additionally, there are a variety of different carbs, some healthier than others. For instance, complex carbs promote a healthy digestive system and metabolism while certain processed carbs do the complete opposite (3).
My good friend who was trying to lose weight would always check the amount of carbs in every food he would eat. By cutting these carbs out of his diet, he was actually hurting himself and not realizing it. So many people fail to realize this and simply try to reject all carbs while in fact eating the correct carbs in moderation is actually extremely beneficial.
Another food myth is that fat free and low fat foods are healthier than full-fat versions. When it comes to certain meats, lower fat concentration is usually healthier (4), however it is usually the other way around when it comes to processed foods. This is because these manufacturers need to add in an extra ingredient to compensate for the lack in taste and this mystery ingredient is usually terrible for the body.
Food In Recovery 🥩🥗
Despite these food myths, there are a handful of healthy foods that doctors recommend patients to eat while in ED recovery. Foods that are high in protein along with leafy greens are essential for patients in recovery (5). Protein contains amino acids that help fuel the brain and improve productivity, stabilize hormones and increase one's mood. On the other hand, leafy greens contain nutrients that help with anxiety and increase serotonin. Both of these foods help nourish people and improve people’s state of mind. This is especially important for people recovering from an eating disorder where they may have unhealthy side effects from overeating or malnourishment.
The main thing to take into consideration is how many incorrect theories there are on food in society. Most people have absolutely no idea what they are talking about and most of these misconceptions can result in an even more unhealthy way of eating. That’s why it’s so important to develop a healthy relationship with food and understanding of how nutrition actually fuels the body. 💪 All of these theories can result in disordered eating and have more of a negative effect than be beneficial. If you are to take food advice, make sure they are a registered dietician who knows what they are talking about and not some random dude who looked his information up on google. 🥸
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Lindsey is one of the founders of Beanbag Health with a personal passion for eating disorders. She's a behavioral scientist with a background in health-tech and ed-tech in the US. She has designed healthcare and education programs at scale, engaging millions of Americans and thousands of students globally, including many from traditionally underserved backgrounds.
George Andrews is an intern at Beanbag Health. He is an incoming junior at the University of Connecticut. He is majoring in Finance and has a passion for all business related work. He says, "Interning at Beanbag Health has been a life changing experience and one that has taught me so much. It has truly opened my eyes to the world of eating disorders and how they truly affect people lives."