Healthy eating means eating the right types of food in the correct amount and in the right ways to access all the nutrients for adequate energy supply and maintenance of body functions. In this post, I will be discussing some myths about healthy eating you need to avoid in order to optimize your access to nourishment.
Several unfounded stories surround food intake and practices. These stories could be referred to as myths. A myth is a commonly held but false belief. When these beliefs get repeated well enough people who know the truth invariably accept the view as a norm. However, the important question is which do we take with a pinch of salt and which do we take as fact?
Listed below are some myths about healthy eating.
1. Food myth: Eat many mini-meals instead of three regular meals for weight loss
Healthy eating fact: Some dieters have the belief that eating frequent, smaller meals all through the day will speed up metabolism and burn more calories. However, research evidence has shown no significant metabolic difference between participants who had six mini-meals with those who ate three regular meals. When you eat smaller but more frequent meals, you are more likely to be hungrier and take in more calories than you need.
2. Food myth: Nuts are as bad as junk foods
Healthy eating fact: While it is true that nuts contain a relatively high number of calories per unit weight, it doesn’t mean nuts should be restricted from your diet. They are high in protein and monounsaturated fats which are good for the heart. For example, almonds contain 6 grams of protein and 14 grams of healthy fat per serving (about 28 grams). Additionally, nuts offer many health benefits and have been associated with the reduction of risk factors for chronic diseases. It is demonstrated that nuts consumption has beneficial effects on heart health, decreased risk for diseases such as arterial disease, inflammation, and type 2 diabetes 1, 2, 3, 4.
3. Food myth: Frozen fruits and vegetables are less nutritious than fresh ones
Healthy eating fact: This is not true if you grow and harvest fruits and vegetables on your own, and freeze them for later use. However, foods found in the produce section may have spent days, weeks probably, in shipping and storage and as such, it is natural for them to lose nutrients. When fruits and vegetables are frozen immediately after harvesting at peak freshness, the loss of vitamin and mineral content is reduced to minimal.
4. Food myth: Drinking milk when you have cold increases mucus
Healthy eating fact: Your body needs calcium and vitamin D to build strong bones, and milk is rich in both. There is no evidence to prove that milk increases mucus production when you have a cold or suffer from flu 5. In this study, almost half of the participants believed dairy products were bad for colds and the majority held the view that milk produced more mucus. However, no correlation was found for the production of more mucus with milk intake. Also, no study has linked the intake of milk with the congestion often experienced during a cold or flu ailment. Milk is an important source of calcium and vitamins. The myth that milk intake increases mucus production needs to be disproved by healthcare workers
5. Food myth: Thoroughly wash raw meat before cooking to eliminate bacteria
Healthy eating fact: Food regulatory bodies of countries recommend not washing raw meat before you cook them. The reason for this recommendation is to prevent cross-contamination during handling and preparation into meals. While some bacteria can’t be simply washed off no matter how hard you try, some might end up getting into your sink, onto other foods and accidentally ingested. When pathogenic bacteria are eaten with food it could result in food infection or food poisoning and cause health problems. If you cook the meat at the right temperature, all the bacteria will die, so there’s no risk of contamination by washing it. However, this recommendation may not be relevant for situations where strict hygiene procedure from the abattoir to the point of sale is absent. Therefore, it is advisable to wash such meats to reduce the dirt load. Washing should be done in an isolated place to prevent the spread of the food borne pathogens that are on your meat all over the rest of your kitchen.
6. Food myth: Eating late at night makes you gain weight
Healthy eating fact: The idea of not eating after a certain time has been around for a while. However, there is no basis for this as our body burns calories 24/7, even when you’re asleep; so though it is advisable to eat dinner several hours before bedtime to allow the body to digest the food, and to also make it the smallest meal of the day. It remains that the total amount of calories consumed matters more than the time of eating. Any extra calories above your need will end up as stored up fat whether it is a morning treat or a midnight snack.
Sometimes unfounded stories do have some element of fact but with considerable distortion. While I have respect for your sentiments regarding your food practices, it is important to help you understand the facts and the myths about healthy eating.