Diet Myths

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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.