When you are trying to eat healthy and have no idea where to start or what you’re doing, it can be super confusing and overwhelming to sift through all the information out there. The internet has allowed many people to put in their two cents about every topic under the sun, unfortunately this means that what you read is not always true. I believe when it comes to food and eating well, a simple and realistic approach works best. I’ve noted some food myths below that I think everyone should be aware of. Some of these have been floating around for quite some time and it’s time to put them to bed!
Myth: You Should Always Pick Fresh Over Frozen Vegetables
Whilst ‘fresh is best’ is a good thing in many cases, when it comes to fruit and vegetables some studies have shown that there is little difference when it comes to their nutrition content. Why is this? A lot of the time, fresh produce can remain ‘in transit’ for several days or even weeks before it reaches supermarket shelves. This means that the amount of nutrients the fruit or veggies contain may gradually decrease during this time.
The reason frozen versions can sometimes be more nutritious than fresh ones is because they are often picked and frozen at their prime condition. This can mean their nutritional content is a little higher due to it not being lost in transit.
So if you are worried that you can’t afford/find certain fruits and veggies on your supermarket shelves, don’t be scared to go for the frozen option. I know this doesn’t always work for all fruit/veggies. I don’t know about you girls, but I’m not a fan of soggy spinach in my salads!
Myth: 100% Fruit Juice Is The Same As a Whole Fruit
Fruits and vegetables can provide our bodies with a wide variety of nutrients. One of the most nutritious parts of a fruit is the pulp and skin, because they contain fibre (which is important for heart and digestive health and can also help keep you feeling full in between meals). When we buy fruit juice from the shops, the pulp and skin is often removed during processing, so ultimately you are left with a bottle of fruit sugar. Whilst there is nothing wrong with fruit sugars when eaten in the right amounts, drinking bottled juice can make it super easy to consume a lot of it in a short period of time.
So surely homemade juices are better than store bought?
Think about it this way: when you eat an apple for a mid-morning snack, you generally just eat one, right? However, when you make an apple juice, you might add two, three or even four apples to create a decent amount of juice. This dramatically increases the amount of fruit you are consuming in one go. When you eat the whole fruit, including the peel and pulp, the fibre that it contains can help your body to break it down more slowly and also tell your brain when you have had enough. Because juice can be drunk much faster, your body may not be able to recognise these cues to the same extent as eating the whole fruit.
Yes, fruit does contain a number of beneficial ingredients but don’t be fooled by fancy packaging and marketing of juices. Just remember to eat (or in this case, drink!) everything in moderation. Sometimes it is easier and better to just grab that apple and go!
Myth: Dark Bread Is Always Better
When it comes to grain foods, such as bread, we’ve been taught to believe that darker = better. We recognise this brown colour with the fact that the grains have undergone less processing. However the one thing many people don’t know is that some manufacturers may add colours or small amounts of whole wheat to their bread, to give us the illusion that their product is ‘healthier’, whilst really it isn’t nutritionally better than the white variety.
To avoid falling into this trap, it is always a good idea to check the ingredients list and make sure that the first thing on the list has the word “whole” or “wholemeal” at the front (for example, whole wheat flour). That way you can be sure that you’re getting the real deal.
Myth: Gluten Free is Healthier
This is similar to the dark bread scenario, many people also think that because something is gluten free, it is instantly a healthier option. Yes, gluten free grains such as quinoa and rice can provide our bodies with great nutrients, but there are also plenty of other gluten free food items that aren’t as great. For example, store-bought biscuits and other bakery items.
Taking gluten out of products can also have a massive effect on the texture of them. To help with this manufacturers may add extra sugars or other ingredients in order to improve the texture and taste of these foods. Not to mention they can be far more expensive!
Don’t be fooled into thinking that just because it says ‘gluten free’ you are doing your body a favour. Unless there is a medical reason why you shouldn’t (for example, you are gluten intolerant or have Coeliac disease), there is nothing wrong with eating gluten-containing carbs as long as they are the right kind and you eat them in the right amounts!
I hope that going over some of these myths has helped you to differentiate between fact and fiction! Remember, when it comes to your health it is always a good idea to have a sound education and not to believe everything you hear straight up. If you are ever unsure about something, it’s a great idea to do a little research!
Love, Kayla xx