With how much time we all spend using media today (smartphones, tablets, watching TV etc), it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the non-stop health info that comes at us! Because of this, we pick up bits and pieces of the things we hear and one of the problems that comes with that is we end up perpetuating a lot of stuff that isn’t true! Today I want to dispel 5 myths that a lot of people believe. I hear them constantly – and sometimes I want to bang my head against a wall because some of them are just outright lies! Misinformation is not our friend!
5 Common Health Myths You Can Ignore (because you
1. Myth: Celery is high in sodium so you shouldn’t eat it if you’re trying to lose weight.
Truth: Celery does have sodium in it (about 35 mg per stalk) so yes, if you are eating a ton of celery you will ingest a good amount of sodium. But do you know what has more sodium than celery? Virtually every processed food in our stores – a slice of bread can have anywhere from 80 mg to 300 mg of sodium in it, that can of soup that you had for lunch today? Anywhere from 400 mg to 1000 mg (depending on if you had 1 cup or if you had the entire can – 2 servings). So while celery does contain a bit of sodium, it contains far less than many other foods you are likely already consuming and not worrying about.
Celery also contains beneficial nutrients like Vitamin K, Folate, Potassium and fiber and even contains phytonutrients called phthalides that act like a diuretic – so despite the sodium content, celery may actually help you feel less bloated. And lastly, we actually need some sodium for our bodies to function properly and if you are eating a mostly whole foods diet, it’s actually pretty difficult to eat too much of it sodium. My recommendation is to look at the sodium content of other foods in your diet (the processed ones) before ditching celery.
2. Myth: Lettuce has no nutrition in it – it’s just water.
Truth: If I had a nickel for every time I heard this, I would be a very rich woman! Lettuce, is rich with nutrients – like Vitamin A, Vitamin K, folate, fiber, potassium and even some of the B Vitamins. When it comes to lettuce, it’s true that the darker the variety, the more packed with nutrition it will likely be – so yes this does mean that romaine lettuce is more nutrient dense than iceberg lettuce – BUT that does not mean that iceberg has nothing in it! Even 1 cup of iceberg lettuce provides a moderate amount of Calcium, Potassium, Folate and Vitamins A and K! So go ahead and eat it and eat others too. Variety is important! It’s also packed with water and most of us could use more hydration.
3. Myth: That products that have “superfoods” in them are better than real food.
Truth: The term “superfood” is a marketing term that has no legal definition in the USA. While the term “superfood” is generally used to describe foods that are recognized as having a high concentration of nutrients (antioxidants are often super concentrated in some of these foods), this doesn’t mean that the food described this way is in fact good for you! Blueberries, cacao and broccoli have all been described as superfoods – no big deal, these are healthy foods when consumed in their pure form! But protein bars that use the term “contains superfoods!” in their products that contain junk like hydrolyzed soy protein, high fructose corn syrup, food coloring and other junk hardly become a health food just because they added some blueberry extract or a 1/2 tsp of cacao powder. Yes, acai, goji berries, maca and coconut all have some amazing properties and nutrients but you don’t have to eat them to have a healthy diet – and no superfood product (even with a high concentration of health foods) is going to reverse the damage that a crappy diet can create. The bottom line is we need to Ignore marketing buzz words and read ingredient labels. Then you can use your best judgement before falling prey to this type of marketing BS!
4. Myth: If you don’t eat grains, you won’t get enough carbohydrates.
Truth: There are lots of sources of carbohydrates that have more nutrients in them than grains. You don’t need to eat grains to get carbs in your diet. To be honest, most of us are eating far too many carbohydrates and could actually use a reduction of them!
Back in 1992, the USDA introduced to the Food Guide Pyramid which recommended Americans eat 6 – 11 servings of grain per day and while the guidelines for Americans have changed, many people still remember this original recommendation and are eating large quantities of grain products every day. But for many of us, eating lots of grain can be problematic – leading to weight gain, uncontrolled blood sugar and (ironically) excess feelings of hunger – especially because most of the grain we eat in this country is heavily refined. Cutting down on the amount of grains we consume can help stabilize blood sugar and crazy food cravings – and guess what? If you feel like you aren’t getting enough carbohydrates, there are plenty of other sources out there!
Vegetables are a great source of carbohydrates and they having far more nutrients in them than grains. High carbohydrate vegetables include potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, peas and parsnips. Moderate carbohydrate vegetables include celery root, rutabaga, pumpkin, eggplant and tomatoes. Low carbohydrate vegetables (but still contain some) include lettuces, zucchini, mushrooms, bok choy, radishes and cabbage. And don’t forget fruit – most fruit are very high in carbohydrates. The key to feeling satisfied as you transition from a high grain diet to a low grain (or no grain diet) is eating plenty of high fiber vegetables, good sources of fat and plenty of protein.
I personally eat a low grain diet these days and I feel much better than I did in the days when I ate so many grain products! Try it!
5. Myth: Lifting weights will make you bigger.
Truth: Eating more than our bodies need will make us bigger. Lifting weights (as a woman) will make you stronger, leaner and your muscles more defined. It will not make you get bigger. People who body build to create mass actually have to eat quite a bit (and very carefully & cleanly), they may supplement with protein powders, creatine and other supplements that speed up growth, and lift very heavy and very frequently to increase their size. Increasing your size with muscle is NOT something that just happens by accident when you lift weights casually once or twice a week. It is not something that will happen when your strength training is 15 minutes twice a week. It takes dedicated (hours upon hours of) work and a strict diet plan.
If you think you are getting bigger from lifting weights, odds are it’s a temporary fluid swelling that comes directly after a strength session (it’s part of how the muscle tissues repair themselves)! One of my favorite things to do before a night out if I’m wearing a sleeveless top/dress is to do a couple sets of pushups right before I leave – because they swell and it helps my muscles to look more defined! And this girl dreams of having super sculpted arms!
Lifting weights will make you strong and look good (and it’s a great insurance policy for keeping our bones strong as we age). I promise you won’t get big from lifting a few weights (unless you don’t stop eating when you’ve had enough on a regular basis). If anything, lifting weights will help you burn off extra fat – as pound for pound muscle burns more calories than fat does and strength training heavy gives you a temporary boost in metabolism that will help you burn more calories in the hours after your session. Go lift ladies!
Are there any common health topics or myths that you have questions on? Feel free to post them in the comments!