Nutrition Myths

This page was created to dispel common myths about nutrition, work against the diet mentality, and help people develop habits to improve their relationship with food.

DietsDieting involves following rigid rules around food consumption or exercise in order to achieve a certain body ideal. However, the dieter’s belief that “we are what we eat” is a lie. Other lies fostered by the diet mentality include the idea that foods are either good or bad, and the idea that certain people are dangerous around food.

 
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the Keto diet is a healthy way to “lean out” for athletics

the weight that is lost on Keto will likely be due to dehydration and this diet has been show in research to reduce both power and speed, which are important for athletic performance

your brain and body perform best with adequate daily consumption of carbohydrates

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the Keto diet will prevent cancer because carbs and sugar consumption are related to cancer

when not eating enough carbs, our bodies turn to fat metabolism, converting fat into keytones for energy production; however, fat is not sustainable as an energy source, because it lowers the Ph in the body, so the body becomes too acidic and the keytones spill into the urine (which is detectable on the labs of some patients with eating disorders

feel empowered to consume adequate carbs and sugar daily; peer-reviewed, scientific studies suggesting that sugar causes cancer are very limited at best

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Veganism is healthier than Vegetarianism  

the human body is designed to be omnivorous, for example: human eyes (binocular vision for seeing animal prey), teeth (canine for tearing meat), intenstinal design (various stomach acids and enzyme types are specifically designed to process animal products); there is no "healthiest" diet, it's all highly individualized, based on personal preferences and accessability

focus on foods you truly enjoy rather than what you think is "healthiest"

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thousands of years ago all people were vegetarian

we are opportunistic omnivores; for example, we have enzymes in our bodies that only break down insect skeletons, so that we are able, if nothing else is around, to eat insects if needed; anthropologic research shows that early humanoids who began consuming animal products survived those who did not, resulting in larger brains and the evolution of our species

if you have a history of restricting food variety, increase your variety back to what it was the last time you ate freely, without any diet mentality; this will truly free you from your perfectionistic food prison

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it is good to focus on a low-cholesterol diet

dietary cholesterol from food doesn’t actually increase blood cholesterol; in fact, when someone eats too little cholesterol, the liver will actually increase blood-level cholesterol as a starvation response, causing many of our eating disorder patients to be referred to cardiologists for high cholesterol, despite low weights and high levels of supposed fitness

incorporate a variety of all foods in moderation, including those previously maligned by the diet culture for having dietary cholesterol, including red meats, full-fat dairy and eggs

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cholesterol is bad

too little cholesterol make us less able to make cortisol, the stress hormone, so we don't cope with stress as well

cholesterol is an essential part of daily human intake; consume a variety of cholesterol-containing foods

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organic vs non organic

several studies have shown that there is no greater nutritional value to organic foods, nor is there any detectable difference in taste, and the certifications are rarely 100% organic anyway; organic farmers also use pesticides

the reason to eat organic, if you can afford it, would be to protect farmers and wildlife from pesticides, rather than consumers

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the obesity epidemic has been caused by the rise in processed food consumption

much poor science has tried to correlate the obesity epidemic with trends such as the rise in heart disease, diabetes etc, but the only connection that really makes sense consistently over time is the advent of mass dieting

dieting interferes with the body's natural set-point, as well as huger and fullness cues, preventing an individual from being able to eat intuitively and enjoy their relationship with food

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 gluten causes inflammation

gluten-free diets are not needed except for celiac patients; the true test for celiac or a severe gluten intolerance is to have a person eat gluten daily for several weeks, then have an endoscopy to look for inflammation in the intestines, combined with blood work for an immune response to the gluten intake; the unwillingness to undergo the proper medical workup may be a veil for an eating disorder

discuss an evidence-based allergy evaluation with a board certified allergist (MD) before defaulting to a gluten-free diet, and all its social ramifications, as well as alterations in shopping and daily food preparation

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the body benefits from having periods of fasting to speed up metabolism (aka intermittent fasting)

human metabolism suffers when people skip meals or snacks, fasting for longer than our daily period of sleep, which the body does need; fasting during the day is a risk factor for the development of disordered eating

to avoid increasing food-related obsessions, including poor body image, eat every 3-4 hours throughout the day; eating when moderately hungry is the most nutritionally sound practice

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Foods: All foods contain nutrition. Normal eaters consume a variety of all foods in moderation and live in freedom from rigid rules. They refrain from judgements against foods as good/bad or healthy/unhealthy.

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red meat rots in the colon; meat makes you fat and causes heart disease; meat is high in saturated fat and cholesterol; processed meat will cause cancer

all foods go through some degree of processing and are moved through the body by the intestinal system; fats are an essential part of human nutrition; for example, the brain is roughly 60% fat cells; the only meats we have evidence for contributing to cancer is the frequent consumption of BBQ/charred meats

if you enjoy animal products, feel free to incorporate all meats, especially if you have a history of any nutritional deficiencies (such as iron or B12)

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meats are better if eaten raw

when archaeologists studied the 5,300 year-old Ice-Man's stomach contents, it contained cooked meat; anthropologic research shows that early humanoids who began consuming animal products survived those who did not, resulting in larger brains and the evolution of our species

to avoid food-borne illnesses, cook meats adequately as indicated by Serve-Safe temperatures

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some people espouse the myth that eating lots of soy is fine stating 'They eat soy every day in some cultures,' while others say 'If I eat soy I'll get man-boobs or cancer"

foods such as Not Dogs or tempeh may be more highly processed than foods that most dieters consider to be "junk"; and contrary to popular belief, even asian cultures do not eat soy daily; too much soy may be associated with hormone imbalances; opting to only eat one type of protein will likely promote deficiencies in other areas in the human diet

enjoy a variety of protein sources throughout the week; all gender identities can incorporate a variety of all soy products; it is a complete protein source and contains all the amino acids your body needs daily

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sugar is addicting

it is impossible to be addicted to something that is the main food source for our cells; all foods break down to glucose

give yourself endless compassion to eat sugar-containing goods

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there is no nutritional value to sugar

your brain actually uses 60% of the glucose you consume, so sugar is nutritious.

incorporating sweet treats daily is normal eating; making any food illegal is likely to precipate binge urges

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high fructose corn syrup is worse than regular sugar

high fructose corn syrup=48% glucose and 52% high fructose; table sugar=52% glucose & 48% fructose, so they are basically exactly the same thing

don't avoid foods you authentically like because they may contain high fructose corn syrup; your body will utilize the sugars regardless, and you will be much less likely to trigger binge urges, which are caused by restricting

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eating fat makes you fat

research has shown that the low-fat scare of the 1990’s was in error; it resulted in people eating too few fats, which caused poor satiety at eating times and led to people eating more (our whole culture gained weight); now nutrition experts have taken the low-fat focus out of textbooks

eating an adequate amount of fats daily helps the body feel satisfied at meals and snacks, so that one does not over eat in an effort to get enough fats

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Athleticism/Weight: Athletes are often focused on maximizing performance. Unfortunately, some follow unscientific advice from coaches or trainers to restrict important nutrients that actually impairs performance, decreases strength and which may endanger long-term health.

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it is normal to lose your period if you are training hard as an athlete

all female athletes should be having regular periods; it is a good sign that they are fueling properly for sport

if you have an irregular menstrual cycle, speak with a registered dietitian who specializes in fueling for sport and is knowledgeable about RED-S (Relative Energy Deficiency in Sport)

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taking oral birth control will get back your period if you lost it for a few months

oral contraceptives will stimulate the shedding of the uterine lining but will not induce a true menstrual cycle

having three regular periods in a row, without the help of birth control, is the measure of a healthy menstrual status

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thinner always means more athletic

there is no uniform rule about size in athletics, everyone has their own pre-determined weight where they are most healthy and perform best athletically; weight is not a measure of performance ability; attempting to achieve too low a body weight will likely harm wellbeing and athletic performance

rather than focusing on weight loss, speak with a sports dietitian about ways to focus on true performance metrics such as strength, power output or speed, and how to fuel to maximize these athletic outcomes

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lower body fat means more athletic

too low body fat will increase injury risk and reduce performance outcomes

de-emphasize body composition; focus on true performance metrics as mentioned above

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your highschool weight is a good goal weight

our bodies are always changing and athletes should be building bone and muscle mass to maximize performance; staying at one’s highschool weight makes these goals unachievable

if you struggle with your body changing over time, speak with a trained mental health professional and/or sports dietitian to learn about body neutrality and how to support your health and athletic goals

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thin people live longer

active people live longest in the clinical research; being a little over weight rather than being under weight is associated with greater longevity

rather than focusing on weight, practice health behaviors that are associated with longevity in the research, including: engaging in mindfulness, joyful movement, developing close social connections, maintaining a good sleep-wake cycle, practicing body neutrality and eating a variety of all foods in moderation

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