Diet Myths

There’s a dizzying array of information about what’s hot and what’s not in the world of healthy eating. At Balance Box, we’re all about delicious, healthy food that makes your life easier, not harder. We’ve busted the most common diet myths so you can make the right choices for your body.

“Gluten is so bad for you”

Actually, it’s not. Unless you’re celiac, gluten-intolerant or have a wheat allergy, there’s no reason to remove gluten from your diet. Gluten is a protein found in grains like wheat, rye and spelt. Although it’s not unhealthy in itself, its appearance in highly processed foods like biscuits, white bread and pastries gives it a bad reputation.

“Breakfast is the most important meal of the day”
Studies have shown that skipping breakfast can be beneficial because it gives the digestive system a break. We naturally fast at night-time anyway, so extending this until midday can sometimes be a good move if you’ve overindulged. Whether you’re too busy to eat in the mornings, or you sit down to a home-cooked breakfast every day, don’t worry. The key here is that when you do eat your first mouthful, make sure it’s a nutritious one.

“You’ll gain fat if you eat after 6pm or before bed”
If you end your day with a balanced, delicious meal, it doesn’t matter if you eat it at 8pm or 9pm. We all lead busy lives and so later meals are becoming the norm. However, digestion uses a lot of energy and can interfere with your sleep patterns, so ideally, try not to eat for at least three hours before bedtime. But don’t stress and spend the night hungry and grumpy if you get home late. Unless you’re a gremlin, eating after midnight every now and then is not the end of the world.

“Carbs are bad for you”

Carbohydrates are the main source of the body’s energy so you don’t want to cut them out altogether. What you do want to watch, however, are the processed carbs which score high on the Glycemic Index. These foods, such as white bread, biscuits, pastries and cakes will cause a spike and subsequent crash in blood sugar levels, causing you to reach for the biscuit tin in an endless loop. If you want to lose weight, reach for wholegrain breads and pasta with plenty of fresh vegetables instead.

“Keto is the way to go

The ketogenic diet is a low carb, high fat approach to eating. It causes your body to go into a state of ‘ketosis’ meaning it burns fat stores rather than food for energy. Any diet that induces a calorie deficit will lead to weight loss and keto is no different. However, take caution – there are no significant studies to show that keto leads to long-term weight loss, nor improved health. In fact, some studies have shown it to be harmful long-term.

“Detox diets are a silver bullet”

Some detox diets are so extreme that they can do more harm than good. Weight loss may result from existing solely on celery juice for seven days, but this is different to fat loss and can exhaust your glycogen stores. Don’t confuse detox diets with clean eating either. It’s always a good idea to enjoy whole foods with minimal sugar, trans fats and preservatives, but don’t obsess about it. Unless you have a medical condition, the kidneys and liver are superstars at detoxing the body naturally.

“Protein is bad for you”

Protein is the most important macro nutrient to pay attention to when losing weight. It supports our joints and boosts our bones, so it’s particularly crucial to hit your recommended daily intake as you age. Fears about red meat causing cancer are vastly exaggerated too. Upping levels of plant-based food, exercising more and quitting smoking will significantly reduce your chances of cancer more than restricting red meat alone.

“Fat is bad for you

A small amount of ‘good’ fat is crucial for our bodies to function properly. But trans-fats and saturated fats have been linked to an increased risk of heart disease. Reduce the amount of fatty meats, hard cheeses, biscuits, cakes and cream in your diet and enjoy unsaturated fats in foods such as olive oil, avocados, brazil nuts and oily fish. Salmon, trout, and mackerel are loaded with omega-3 and omega-6 which are an essential part of a healthy, balanced diet.

“Vegetarian and vegan diets are healthier”

Vegetarian and vegan foods don’t necessarily indicate a healthier diet. If you replace meat and dairy with sweets, refined carbohydrates and processed foods, you’re not going to lose weight or feel better. If you want to give-up meat, make sure you include plenty of plant-based protein such as pulses and beans.

Could a digital detox help you lose weight?

We live in a world of convenience where everything is just a finger swipe away. This means that even the most disciplined of us often find it hard to resist the time-wasting pitfalls of mindless scrolling.

Taking a break from your phone has been shown to improve mental wellbeing. But what about physical health? What if reducing those hours staring at a screen could benefit our waistline?

Melatonin is the hormone which regulates our circadian rhythm and signals to our body that it’s time to nod off. As little as two hours of exposure to light emitted from our devices can suppress melatonin production by 22%, meaning late night social media binges can cause significantly disrupted sleep patterns.

The knock-on effect is that a lack of sleep is linked to weight gain. This is because our body favours the production of ghrelin (the appetite increasing hormone) over leptin (the appetite suppressing hormone) when we’re tired. The result of bad sleep? We crave sugary, fatty junk foods to increase our energy levels. A regular intake of calorific foods means our body stores the excess energy as fat and we find it hard to shift the weight.
So, next time you find yourself falling into a digital rabbit hole of bedtime scrolling, switch off your phone, get some decent shut-eye and start reaping the weight loss benefits.

New Year, New You

January, AKA the month of good intentions, is here. For most of us, it’s a time of reflection and goal setting as we strive to improve our health and wellbeing. ‘I’m only going to eat once a day and give up carbohydrates/cheese/alcohol!’ is a commonly heard cry. But although it’s good to address the balance of your diet, beware— knee-jerk reactions against the excesses of Christmas can sometimes do more harm than good.

 

Be kind to yourself

Try to think of your nutrition holistically, paying attention to what, when and how you eat as opposed to just how much. Choose foods that will enrich your body, not inflame it and gently tweak your overall approach to wellbeing. If you have an off-day and find yourself devouring a tub of salted caramel ice cream, don’t beat yourself up. Nobody’s perfect. Just gently remind yourself of your health intentions and start the next day with a fresh, focussed and positive mind-set.

 

Choose quality over quantity

Sustained weight loss should not be approached with quick fixes such as skipping meals and reducing portions to miniscule amounts. Although there is undoubtedly a link between weight management and the amount of food we take in, there is more to this equation than meets the eye. Consuming highly inflammatory foods like processed meats, refined carbohydrates and alcohol triggers our body into a state of immune activation and physiological stress. This is bad news for weight loss because these types of food, regardless of portion size, do not allow us to easily digest and process beneficial nutrients.

 

Get a grip on stress

Hormones and blood glucose levels are the often-overlooked gate-keepers to weight loss. Pay special attention to them through good nutrition, quality sleep and exposure to natural sunlight, and you should reap the rewards. Stress in particular is a tyrant of the tummy, having been linked to the accumulation of the dreaded visceral fat around our abdomen. Try daily meditation (there are loads of apps out there), along with balanced meals and you’ll be wriggling into those too-tight-jeans in no time.

 

 

At Balance Box we create meals which are perfectly balanced. Our boxes are rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants which allow the body to assist with the elimination of toxins and support sustainable weight loss.