I was inspired to write this piece after watching a hilarious segment on Jimmy Fallon. He asked people if they knew what gluten was. Not if they were gluten free, not if they didn’t eat gluten, but simply: “What IS Gluten?” It was fascinating/hilarious/scary to see how many people (everyone who appeared in the video) didn’t know what gluten was, but yet they admonished it and removed it from their diets.
Why? Because the media/their friend/a book told them to.
It really bothers me that so many of us are sucked into the media circus surrounding food. I’m not excluding myself here as I do have a health and fitness blog, but what I am learning through my Nutrition study is that no single diet fits all. If there was a single, magical make-everyone-healthy-and-fit-diet we would all be healthy and fit. Reality check, that is clearly not the case and so books like I Quit Sugar, The Beauty Detox and Honestly Healthy are written and become immensely popular, as people around the world seek to follow the next fad (and yes, they are all fad diets) in a quest to jump on the next bandwagon and get slim quick or obtain a “beach body” in 5 days.
If you think about it, and I mean really think about it, you’ll realise how silly it is. Do doctors give the same prognosis or diagnosis to each and every patient they have? No, and even if the symptoms are similar they always highlight the importance of individual differences. Each and every human body is unique and different; thus what works for someone else may not work for you. Or it maybe it might work for a while and then stop!
One diet does not fit all.
Listen to your body. Make note of what happens when you change your diet. Want to remove gluten from your diet to see if it has any effect? Sure! Go for it. Read about what gluten is and what products you’ll find it in; inform yourself. But please don’t stop yourself from having the rye toast for breakfast because Women’s Health magazine published an article that said if you stop eating gluten you’ll wake up the next day with a body like Beyonce, ’cause it won’t.
I’m highlighting the top myths that I read/see/hear again and again and again, that I think are particularly ridiculous.
Myth: You shouldn’t eat a thing after 6pm
Reality: This one is so often used in dieting articles and hailed as a tip. Trying to lose 5 pounds? Omg then you better get ALL of your food in by 5:59pm because if you even so much as SMELL food after 6:00pm you might as well throw in the towel and give up, fatty. Yes, you probably shouldn’t inhale a 8 course tasting menu at 11pm and then hop into bed (it’s awful for your digestive system and your gut), because you won’t get a very good night’s sleep and you’ll feel gross and lethargic in the morning. But eating a later dinner is not going to foil your weight loss plan, either! So stop eating at the office because you don’t want to risk eating after six and ruin your plan.
Myth: Fruits are high in fructose which is bad for you so you should stop eating them (especially after X:XXpm)
Myth: Carbohydrates make you fat
Reality: This is probably the most popular diet myth and one that irks me the most, I think. Carbohydrates do not make you fat. Processed foods make you fat (pasta made from white, enriched flour is a processed food). A large majority of processed foods happen to be of the carbohydrate kind. Eating a slice of spelt, rye, organic sourdough, linseed & soya, or pumpernickel bread is not going to make you fat. Why? Because they’re made from whole grains and contain the good nutrients & healthy fats your body needs to burn fat. Did no one take science at school? Fat burns in a carbohydrate flame. Also – I hate to break it to you, but carbohydrates are found in nearly every type of food – fruit, vegetables, starchy & non-starchy carbs, and in some proteins. It is recommended (read: suggested) that 50% of daily energy intake comes from carbohydrates. Start embracing them people. Order the smashed avocado on toast next time you’re at brunch. Go on, you know you want to.
Myth: Drinking 8 glasses of water a day MINIMUM is required to lose weight
Reality: Keeping your body hydrated is incredibly important because it: aids healthy digestion, helps reduce blood pressure, maintains the function of the kidneys and regulates the appetite to name a few. Yes, you should aim to drink more water over sugary, caffeinated and alcoholic drinks. Obviously. 8 glasses is approximately 2 litres of water, but If you don’t manage to drink 2 litres of water daily then do not fear, your weight loss journey is not over. You can be the biggest loser and only drink 1 litre of water a day. Increase your water intake absolutely; get that H2O wherever you can! But don’t freak out if you don’t.
Chase the food police away and honour your health and your hunger.
There are so many more myths that are perpetuated by so-called health coaches and the media; the point I am trying to make is that there is unfortunately no textbook standard for food and nutrition that works for everyone. Eat when you’re hungry and hydrate yourself frequently. Stop listening to the diet police and don’t let yourself fall into the trap of worrying about every morsel you’ve eaten and whether or not it complies with the latest diet plan you may be following. This kind of behaviour can be incredibly destructive and dangerous for some people and can lead to developing maladaptive eating disorder tendencies. I’m sadly speaking from experience here.
There is no one perfect diet for anybody. Ultimately, it’s all about balance.