The Five Biggest Food Myths You’ve Been Told

By Kirsty Petrides - 13 Jul 2016

The Five Biggest Food Myths You’ve Been Told

We don’t know if you’ve noticed, but the world has become a little health-obsessed recently. A few years ago, ‘being healthy’ just meant saying no to that extra Arnott’s Scotch Finger and going for a run every once in a while.

But now, being healthy is so much more than that. It's green smoothies and juice cleanses. It's dairy-free, gluten-free and sugar-free. It’s paleo, organic and clean-eating. It's Kayla Itsines 11 times a week. It's leg day, arm day, abs day, butt day. And it's about going on a tea detox—or ‘teatox’.

It’s overwhelming, exhausting and quite frankly, a little bit ridiculous! (Especially teatoxes, seeing as we already have something that naturally detoxifies our bodies called A LIVER. Yes, true story.)

Here at The Urban List, we think food is the best thing ever. It brings people together, it gives us something to bond over, and it makes us pretty damn happy. So with the help of our clever dietitian friend Charlene Grosse from Specialised Nutrition Care, we’ve debunked five food myths that are peddled out at the moment.

So you can go back to enjoying your food, rather than worrying about whether your almonds have been activated or not.

#1 Carbs And Gluten Are Evil

There are people out there who will tell you that carbs make you fat, and paleo diet followers will eagerly inform you that ‘our cavemen ancestors didn’t need carbs, therefore we don’t need carbs.’ Firstly, cavemen only lived until the ripe old age of 28 and secondly, carbs and gluten aren’t evil, so stop being a hater. “Carbohydrates actually provide the same energy value per gram as protein rich foods, yet they cop the blame for weight gain,” explains Charlene. (Take that, Paleo Pete.) “As for gluten, just because something is gluten-free, doesn't make it healthy. Many gluten-free products are high in fat and sugar, so if you don’t have a medical reason to follow a gluten-free diet, there is no need to.” So does this mean more pasta? Yes, we think it does—see you at Pasta & Cuore, y'all.

#2 Coconut Oil Is God’s Gift To You

The myths around coconut oil vary from it will make you lose weight, to it will cure all your diseases and ailments. The truth? “Coconut oil is very high in saturated fat,” says Charlene. (That’s the bad kind of fat, guys.) “While this particular type of saturated fat can boost your good cholesterol, it also boosts your bad cholesterol at the same time. The fact is, coconut oil just doesn’t stack up against something like olive oil, which has unsaturated fats, lowers your bad cholesterol and increases your good cholesterol. If you’re really keen on coconut oil though, try to use it sparingly.” Unless its for your hair or skin, ladies. Then use heaps.

#3 Dairy Is Bad

Almond milk, coconut milk, rice milk and quinoa milk manufacturers all must be rubbing their hands together! For so long, no one has even glanced at their products on the supermarket shelf. And then almost overnight, we have suddenly decided that our good ol’ Anchor Lite will not do—because instead we want the murky water that’s leftover in the bowl after you soak almonds overnight. “Milk and milk products provide so many nutrients including calcium, protein, iodine, vitamins and zinc,” says Charlene. “Obviously lactose intolerant people have to have lactose-free products, but we should all be aiming to have three serves of dairy every day. Plus, if you just one day decide to cut out an entire food group like dairy without speaking to a doctor or dietitian, you can actually give yourself nutrient deficiencies and put your health at risk.” So what we’re saying is this: go get the cheese trolly from Ostro right now. It’s good for your health.

#4 You Should Be Eating “Superfoods”

‘Superfood’ is a new term that gets bandied around a fair bit. It's usually in relation to things like blueberries, quinoa and kale—which, in fairness, do have a high nutritional content. But are they super? “No one food provides all the nutrients we need, and therefore no food is really super,” Charlene says. “So rather than focusing on select ‘superfoods’ and eating the same kale and quinoa salad for lunch every day, you’re better off enjoying a range of foods and getting a load of different vitamins and nutrients, rather than the same ones every day.” So does this mean that putting blueberries on our Coco Pops doesn’t suddenly make it a superfood breakfast? Yes, yes it does. Dammit…

#5 Sugar Is Killing You

Sugar is killing us all! At least that’s what a bunch of people on Instagram will tell you. Don’t get us wrong, we don’t think we should all be having cake and Coke every day. But should we really be cutting out all sugar—including fruit—like Sarah ‘I Quit Sugar’ Wilson would suggest? “No. We should definitely try to limit foods that have added sugar and not much nutritional value, like chocolate, soft drinks, cordials and even fruit juices, vitamin waters and sports drinks. But as for foods that contain naturally occurring sugars and have loads of nutritional value—like fruit and starchy vegetables—these shouldn’t be cut out of our diets.” So this means fruit is back on the menu, guys! Especially the epic fruit smoothies from Ceres Fresh Market. What happy news indeed.

While we’re talking all things health, why not check out Auckland's Best Weekend Walks and Hikes.

Image credit: Jenny Craig

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