By Rachel Hartley
Healthy eating. It seemed so simple back in school, eat your five a day, follow the food pyramid and plate portion chart. The advent of social media, online and 24-hour news has meant there are more voices and opinions than ever in what ‘good nutrition’ is. Some voices get downed out as others shout louder. False new, false information and problematic studies are rife so It’s understandable to feel confused and overwhelmed.
We’ve got influencers promoting suspicious slimming teas, celebrities sharing personal stories about ludicrous diets, supplement companies claiming fantastical and multitudinous benefits.
The reality of nutrition is a little complicated but let’s try. Let’s break down the falsities, bust some nutrition myths.
Fats are bad? - Nope
Fats are tricky, a rule of thumb could be quality over quantity. To put it simply, there are saturated and unsaturated fats. Saturated fats can be found in some processed foods, red meat and products made from full-fat dairy, coconut, and palm oil. To oversimplify, these would be ‘bad’ fats, can raise cholesterol, effect your heart and unlike unsaturated fats, don’t contribute to healthy brain function or your immune system. However, cutting these out completely would be difficult and unrealistic. Some ‘good’ fats, that help with absorbing various vitamins, assist brain function and immune system would be those Omega-3 fats found in fish, as well as avocados and nuts. Some good oil alternatives too could be rapeseed or sunflower. Beware a little bit of so called ‘low fat’ foods like yoghurts, the fat tends to be replaced with sugar or salt.
Cutting out sugar and carbs – Don’t
The number of times I heard in the 2000s and 2010s about cutting out sugar and carbs! It’s all about moderation and in my own experience, completely cutting out a food group or ingredient does tend to set yourself up for disappointment. Sugar is like fats, there are the ‘natural’ kinds that you find in fruits that you should keep in your diet (eating your five or more a day genuinely does give you a glow!) and then there’s the kind that you fine in confectionary, or ‘low fat’ foods. Then there’s carbs. You need carbs! Especially if you’re exercising, to go about your life functioning you need energy.
Like sugar and fats, today we are overwhelmed with processed carbs like cake and white bread, but items such a wholemeal or brown bread, couscous, rice, pasta are necessary for slow-release energy to power you through your day, mentally and physically. Ther’s also simple, fast release carbs in fruit for extra energy kicks. Remember, the likes of Audrey Hepburn and Sophia Loren have proclaimed their love of pasta, so you can too.
That one slice of cake has ruined you progress – wrong!
Has anyone ever had a period of eating well and then say, a birthday happens or a dinner out, and you feel like that pizza or cake has derailed your weeks of healthy eating? Please don’t. Annoying as it is to say, its all about moderation. If you are eating well, feeling satisfied and energetic, then what’s life without a little enjoyment and good food? That dinner out, that pizza or cake is a treat for the discipline, meal prep or experimental lentil recipes you’ve tried.
Frozen fruit and veg is less nutritious – Not at all
When I was younger, and even at the start of university, I was under the misconception that frozen food was somehow unhealthier than the fresh stuff. Now I know this is not the case, you all need to know! Frozen fruit and veg can preserve the nutrients, as well as being such a time saver and more budget friendly that constantly buying new, fresh food. Both are great, but don’t overlook the frozen produce.