In a day and age where everyone thinks they’re a nutrition expert, being a dietitian can be pretty frustrating.
Think about this: would you get legal advice from a plumber? Medical advice from an accountant? Or financial advice from a chef? Didn’t think so. But for some reason, so many people think it’s okay to take nutrition advice from their personal trainer, next door neighbour or best friend rather than a qualified dietitian (who has spent at least four years at university studying science and the human body).
As a result, there is a wealth of misinformation infiltrating our society, which, at it’s very worst, has the potential to harm people’s health – not okay.
So, to in an attempt to put some of these Big Fat Lies to rest, here’s some of the worst pieces of nutrition advice I’ve heard (and what you should do instead).
1. You need to be vegan to be healthy
Obviously, this diet comes down to an ethical choice for some people, and I totally understand that.
From a nutritional perspective, vegan diets are highly restrictive which places you at risk of several nutrition deficiencies. Of course, we’d all benefit from eating more plants, but in my professional opinion, eliminating whole food groups is actually the complete opposite of a healthy diet.
2. You should cut out carbs
It’s true that ‘carbs’ from foods like pizza, doughnuts and hot chips aren’t the healthiest.
But – there is a wealth of scientific evidence supporting the consumption of healthy carbs like legumes, wholegrains and fruit. Without these foods, you’d be missing out on things like all-important fibre and disease-fighting antioxidants, which are crucial to your health and wellbeing.
3. Gluten is evil
Gluten a group of proteins found in wheat, rye, barley and oats (not poison). Unless you have a medical need to do so, cutting out gluten is simply unnecessary.
If you cut out lots of processed foods that happen to contain gluten (like cakes, pastries and many packaged snack foods), it’s not surprising that you feel better. But there’s certainly no benefit to cutting out nutritious gluten-containing foods like wholegrain bread or rolled oats just for the sake of it.
4. Fruit has too much sugar
There’s a very big difference between the sugar from a piece of fruit and the sugar from a jelly snake – it can’t all be lumped together in the same basket.
You see, the natural sugar from fruit is paired with a raft vitamins, minerals and antioxidants to keep your body working it’s best. The sugar in fruit is also slowly released (i.e. most fruits have a low glycaemic index), which keeps you feeling full. Plus, fruit is loaded with fibre to support a healthy gut and its low calories.
By comparison, foods with loads of ‘added’ sugar (cake, biscuits and soft drinks) are considered ‘empty calories’. They are energy-dense, spike your blood sugar and usually have no nutritional benefit.
5. You should cut out dairy
Dairy has copped a bad rap by self-labelled wellness gurus, but dairy is one of the richest sources of calcium, which is crucial for healthy bones and teeth. Of course, healthy adults should choose mostly reduced-fat options.
Beyond calcium, dairy also provides muscle-building protein and micronutrients like Vitamin A for eye health and potassium for heart function. All in all, it’s a nutritious food that can have a very positive impact on your overall health. (And let’s face it – who would want to give up their weekly cheeseboard, anyway).