The health and wellbeing industry is one of great importance to society. The businesses and organisations that operate under this umbrella help to further our understanding of nutrition and general health, as well as innovating and developing products and services that can extend and strengthen the lives of people across the world. Unfortunately, the world we live in isn’t too straight forward and with a money making opportunity comes a vast array of misleading information and entities wishing to profit off of an individuals desire to lead a healthier life. Whilst this will never be the case, a higher level of education is the key to diluting this problem.
In this article, we aim to identify some of the most common mistakes people make with regards to their health and will hopefully allow you to make nutritional decisions with a higher quality of judgement.
“Carbohydrates make your fat”
This has to be one of the most common misconceptions surrounding weight loss as a nutritional goal. People often starve themselves of carbohydrate rich foods in a pursuit of a smaller waistline but their beliefs are misplaced. Everything from baked beans to baked cakes provide a source of carbohydrate. Plant foods are predominantly carbohydrate. So by this rationale if “all carbs” are bad, then so are vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, lentils, nuts, and seeds. This of course is just a silly thought. It is calorie intake, not carbohydrate intake, that really matter with regards to the loss of fat.
If you are in a calorie surplus, meaning you are consuming more calories per day than you burn off, you will gain weight, regardless of whether it’s carbs, fats or protein. Same for the opposing position. A calorie deficit, even if its purely McDonald’s burgers and chips, will result in weight loss. Having said this, weightloss is not always healthy, specifically if the carbohydrates you are eating are the wrong ones.
So often carbs are associated with processed foods, which is partially correct, but there are a plethora of varying quality of carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are a vital part of your diet and are fully compatible with any dietary or weight goals alongside calorie awareness. In a nutshell, carbs are your friend. They provide you with enough energy to fulfil your tasks for the day. However, ensure to balance this with protein and fat for a healthy lifestyle.
“Microwaving foods makes them less nutritious”
Another statement you hear frequently is about how mad microwaves are, and that microwaves remove all nutritional value from a meal. Again this is misleading. Whilst technically microwaving foods does lessen the nutritional value, so do all forms of cooking, regardless of the tool you utilise for this purpose, oven, grill etc. The problem with microwaves is the destruction of flavour. Healthy foods are important. But let’s face it, we all love good tasting food and it’s a shame to just destroy that, even if it’s a little quicker.
Tip from Harvard University…
“ The cooking method that best retains nutrients is one that cooks quickly, heats food for the shortest amount of time, and uses as little liquid as possible. Microwaving meets those criteria. Using the microwave with a small amount of water essentially steams food from the inside out. That keeps in more vitamins and minerals than almost any other cooking method and shows microwave food can indeed be healthy. But let’s not get too lost in the details. Vegetables, pretty much any way you prepare them, are good for you, and most of us don’t eat enough of them. And is the microwave oven good or bad? The microwave is a marvel of engineering, a miracle of convenience — and sometimes nutritionally advantageous to boot.”(1)
"Carbohydrates are a vital part of your diet..."
“It’s hard to get enough protein on a plant-based diet”
Protein is an essential part of one’s diet, and is often, mistakenly, exclusively associated with meats. Meat does not possess a monopoly on protein nutrition. In fact, almost all foods but alcohol and sugar contain some. A portion of beans actually has about the same quantity of protein as one ounce of meat. In fact, many green vegetables contain more protein than chicken or beef per gram. If you are interested in some inspiration or ideas about some delicious, high-protein, recipes then please check out these:
“Vegetarians and vegans are all frail and have no energy”
Carl Lewis, Venus Williams, Carmelo Anthony, Mike Tyson are all world class athletes in their chosen crafts. All have performed at the top of their game on animal free diets. If the world heavyweight champion and Wimbledon’s singles and doubles champion can train hours and hours daily on a animal-free diet, then it seems somewhat silly to think that you can live a normal life, energy wise. Nutritionist and sports dietitian Tara Gidus, RD finds that “a vegetarian diet fuels performance just as well as a meat-based diet as long as you’re careful to seek out other sources of certain nutrients that are more commonly found in animal products (like protein and vitamin B12)”.(2)
“It’s expensive being vegan isn’t it?”
Too often when discussing a vegan diet with individuals, particularly their reservations about the potential transition to a plant-based diet, you hear the same excuses over and over again. “I would go vegan, but it’s just so expensive,” or “Where would I buy all those special vegan foods?”. “To these individuals, a plant-based vegan, or even vegetarian, is somewhat of a luxury, only possible for the affluent or those embodying a ‘hippy’ disposition, who have no daily obligations other than to frolic through forests collecting baskets of berries and whatnot” (The Vegan Woman). The reality of the situation is that a vegan diet can be extremely cost effective, convenient and time efficient. The provide tremendous nutrition, quite often require less preparation and cooking equipment, and can accommodate a strict budget. It is key to be informed about your options, which is a central ethos to this company.
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