Several years ago, I was convinced I was totally healthy. I watched my calories, I had a normal BMI, and I took a daily gummy vitamin — but I felt terrible. I didn’t know why until I went to the doctor and discovered that I had seriously low blood sugar and anemia. How did this happen? I thought. I’m such a healthy eater! Like many people, I had some misconceptions about healthy food that needed correcting (and I now feel 100% better after adjusting my diet accordingly).
7 Silly Misconceptions About Healthy Food
Trying to live a healthy lifestyle, but feeling confused about what that even means? We’ve fact-checked seven of the most common food myths out there to help you get on the right track once and for all.
1. Carbs are Evil
If I could eliminate one nutritional misconception from people’s minds, this would be it. Hands down. People have such weird issues with carbs. Part of me understands, because your daily intake of refined carbohydrates should be limited — and ketogenic diets can certainly prove beneficial for certain individuals. But what about fruits, vegetables, and the much-maligned but totally nutritious white potato?
Not evil, folks. In fact, bodybuilders with like 3% body fat eat white potatoes for energy, so that tells you everything you need to know. Sure, smothering said potato in butter, cheese, and sour cream changes things a bit. But for the love of all things holy, don’t eliminate an entire macronutrient from your diet all because some celebrity swears it’s how she dropped 10 pounds right before a photo shoot. Some of the most nutritious eats on the planet fall into this food group, and to ban carbohydrates from your daily menu entirely is all sorts of nonsense.
2. Fat Makes You Fat
Healthy fats are such a vital component of a healthy diet; in fact, these satiating macronutrients should comprise roughly 30% of your daily caloric intake. Avocados, olive oil, and natural peanut butter all make you feel full while keeping your skin, hair, and nails looking their best. So go ahead — pay extra for that side of guac. In fact, consider it a beauty treatment.
3. Fresh Produce is More Nutritious
When fruits and vegetables are first harvested, they are healthier — but those benefits begin to fade as they slowly make their way into your local grocery store. On the other hand, frozen and canned produce is packaged right after it’s sourced, so the nutrients are sealed in as a result. That means you’re probably better off eating canned carrots than those “fresh” ones you bought three days ago. Who knew?
4. Protein = Meat
If I had a penny for every time someone told me my vegetarian diet is protein-deficient, I’d have a couple of dollars by now. (Which doesn’t sound like much, but hey, I said a penny.)
Meat-free lifestyles and high-protein diets are not mutually exclusive, despite what some people may assume. And while meat is certainly a good source of protein, meat eaters are more likely to have higher intakes of saturated fat and cholesterol.
Chickpeas, beans, quinoa, nut butters, and edamame are all packed with protein, and these healthy foods are a wonderful addition to anyone’s daily menu.
5. Diet Foods are Diet-Friendly
Oh, no. No, no, no. Labels like “fat-free” and “sugar-free” do not mean healthy — in fact, they can actually mean quite the opposite. Sugar-free usually just implies that a lot of questionable chemicals have been added to the mix to create an artificial sweetness, while fat-free typically means that refined sugar has been thrown in to make the final product taste better.
6. Organic Food is Always Best
Hey, I’ve seen organic gummy bears, so let’s not pretend that an organic label means that snack food is super nutritious. Buying organic fruits and vegetables is a great way to avoid pesticides, but mindlessly indulging in organic candy won’t do anything for your health or your waistline.
7. Juice is a Great Substitute for Fruit
A lot of people mistakenly assume that fruit juice is the perfect way to get a good, healthy dose of antioxidants, but it’s just not as good as the real deal. Juice is loaded with sugar, but it lacks the fiber content found in whole fruit. Stick to eating your favorite fruits instead, or water your juice down so that you’re getting a hint of fruity flavor without the sugar overload.
Which of these misconceptions have you fallen for, and which healthy foods do you include in your daily diet? Keep the conversation going in the comments!