Written by Maria Olivia Laurent, Content Writer Intern at Project Child Indonesia
You’ve seen chefs recommending what recipes to follow to lose weight. You’ve seen nutritionists writing pages upon pages on the correct diet based on your body type. You’ve even seen some celebrities going on their social media giving health advice to their followers. Everything around us influences the way we eat. And with all of the info out there, it becomes difficult to know what’s true and what’s not, leading to some food myths that you probably have heard countless times circulating in society. A food myth is a misconception about food and how they affect our bodies. It may come from the latest diet trends, other people’s experiences, and different health blogs writing different things. However, people need to realize that these food myths remain as they are, simply a myth that has no scientific proof.
Food and diet are personal. One thing may work for others but not for you, and vice versa. Believing in only what other people say may negatively impact your diet, and you’ll miss out on some good food benefits. Maintaining a good, healthy lifestyle may be challenging despite our best efforts, but indulging in these myths will only make it worse. Here are 5 food myths and the real facts behind them—get ready, some may really surprise you.
- Sugar-free + Gluten-free = Problems-free?
These two labels are everywhere now. Sugar-free ice cream. Gluten-free cookies. Are sugar and gluten truly necessary to cut for a healthier diet? Yes and no. Why? Because when something is labeled sugar-free, they often remove the sugar but replace it with harmful chemicals to mimic the sweet taste. These ‘healthy alternatives’ contain artificial sweeteners like aspartame, sucralose, and saccharine. Though virtually calorie-free, they lead to obesity, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, metabolism failure, and other high-risk illnesses. The same thing goes with gluten-free food. Unless you have gluten intolerance, which is only in 1% of the population that you won’t even realize you have them, you can really benefit from the fiber and other nutrients found in these foods. So instead of completely cutting off sugar and gluten, you should go for a more balanced natural diet where you consume them in a proportional quantity.
- Fat makes you fat
Well first, what kind of fat? People often think of fat as the stuff that makes you want to photoshop the hell out of your pics, but hey, healthy fat exists too! Healthy fats can be found in nuts, salmon, or olive oil, and they help lower blood pressure and keep you fuller longer. Fat-free food goes through a process that removes ALL of the healthy nutritional fat and replaces it with tons of sugar. And lack of good fatty acids results in low energy, eczema, and kidney failure. Experts suggest that rather than going fat-free, go for a low-fat diet with more fruit and vegetable intake. Don’t be fooled by that fake organic packaging, peeps!
As an egg lover, I felt pretty sad when they said to throw out the egg yolk because it’s full of cholesterol. So I decided to do some little research myself to crack this assumption. Eggs indeed increase your cholesterol level… if you eat a whole crate of them every single day. As long as you consume them in moderation, you don’t have to worry about it, especially when the benefits of eggs far outweigh this cholesterol issue. How you cook them is also a deciding factor. The ideal ways are boiled, poached, and baked. Sunny side ups, omelettes, and scrambled are also okay, but don’t use too much oil or butter. As one of the most popular breakfast foods ever, eggs can actually help you eat 400 calories LESS per day because they’re high in protein. Eggs are good for weight loss, metabolism, stable blood glucose, and suppressing hunger. “But they still raise cholesterol!” Yes, they do, but it increases good cholesterol or HDL (high-density lipoprotein), which can lower the triglycerides, the risk factor for heart disease, through its Omega-3.
- Bye-bye nuts, bye-bye acne!
This is actually quite tricky. Generally, nuts contain acne-fighting nutrients such as vitamin E, selenium, and magnesium. They protect cells from getting damaged and infected through their antioxidants power that will clear up acne. However, nuts also contain high amounts of phytic acid and Omega-6 acids, the opposite of Omega-3 in terms of increasing inflammation, which can create acne. Furthermore, a lot of people are secretly allergic to nuts, so that can also trigger breaking out. So, what then? Can I still eat nuts?! Again, the emphasis is on moderating your nuts intake and choosing which nuts you eat. Just think of it as various nuts having pros and cons. The safest nuts to eat that still have high protein but don’t lead to acne are macadamia, almonds, hazelnuts, and chestnuts—all of which are low on Omega-6. The worst nuts for acne include pine nuts, walnuts, and peanuts. If you’re allergic to one type of nut, you can try eating other types in tiny amount, or you can do an oral food challenge test with your doctor to specify your food allergy. Choose your nuts wisely and enjoy the benefits!
- Healthy foods are yucky yuck
Does a bowl of boring salad make you go blah? Yep from me. Many people refuse to eat healthy because they don’t want to let go of all the flavors in their junk food. I kinda feel this too, to be honest, because whenever I imagine a healthy diet, the picture of a sad limp lettuce and plain white mush immediately pulls me back from crossing over to the other side. But in truth, there are many delicious ways to make healthy food as tasty as it is nutritious. Just like any other dish, it takes a lot of practice and the right recipe to do that. Go to your local market for the freshest products and maybe give your grandma a call for her top-secret recipes. What do you think?
So that’s it, folks, for some debunked food myths. There are still a whole lot of them you can find on the Internet, like if MSG is evil, or if carrots really help with your eyesight. Just don’t listen to assumptions and don’t follow fake nutritionists on TikTok, and you’ll do great! Happy eating!
Baier, L. (2021, August 19). 16 Common Food Myths About Health Food You Still Think Are True. A Sweat Pea Chef. https://www.asweetpeachef.com/myths-about-health-food/#:~:text=A%20food%20myth%20is%20a,that’s%20got%20to%20be%20busted.
Petre, A. (2020, August 19). Artificial Sweeteners: Good or Bad?. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/artificial-sweeteners-good-or-bad#metabolic-syndrome
Romero, M. (2012, March 1). Top 14 Myths About Food and Nutrition. Washingtonian. https://www.washingtonian.com/2012/03/01/top-14-myths-about-food-and-nutrition/
Whiteman, H. (2020, December 17). Is a gluten-free diet good for your health?. Medical News Today. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/288406
Wood, S. (n.d.). Do Nuts Cause Acne? 11 Nuts Ranked From Best to Worst for Acne. GoodGlowCo. https://goodglow.co/the-best-and-worst-nuts-for-acne