I’m busting 5 common “bad food” myths
When it comes to healthy eating, all too often we’re drawn to calling individual foods “good” or “bad” — labels that don’t quite fit because what really matters is our eating patterns and cultivating a joyful relationship to food that respects our preferences, cultural significance, and budgets.
But based on the current trends, it seems that we have a case of significant food phobia — if we don’t follow a narrow set of rules all the time, we’ll certainly face health consequences. However, I’m concerned the real health consequence is stigma and shame that comes with being judged for our food choices in the first place.
I’ve made it my job as a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist to end food shame through my work — by educating my clients and readers on what’s really good and bad (hint: food is rarely ever truly bad).
My goal is to de-stress the grocery shopping experience and help people eat well without the burdens of baseless social pressures and food judgements that distract from what really matters to health and well-being: eating. (and hopefully, sharing meals with people you care about.)
It’s so easy for unscientific “food rumors” to start and spread. That’s why I partnered with A Fresh Look, a farmer-led educational nonprofit, to help dispel some of rumors I see most, and make sure you’re armed with facts based on sound research, not myths based on trendy food blogs and social media hearsay.
5 “Bad” Foods The Science Says You Can Enjoy Shame-Free
To get started, here’s a short list of so-called “bad” foods that you can stop worrying about—and start enjoying without shame —today.
Think brown rice is always better for you? Think again. For years, we’ve had it drilled into our heads that there is a significant difference in the nutrients we’re receiving from white versus brown rice. The reality is, you get nourishment from both white and brown rice. They’re both good. If you prefer the taste of white rice over brown, or if you’re out and that’s the rice option, no need to worry that your nutrition game will be effected.
The bits of fiber or vitamins you may miss are easily obtained elsewhere, like from the vegetables in that stir fry. Also, enriched white rice is a better source of folate — an important protein that helps your body make DNA and other genetic materials, as well as supporting cell division. So go ahead: if you want that burrito bowl with white rice, order it! Enjoy both kinds of rice or whichever one you love more on a balanced plate with vegetables and protein rich foods.
In the cereal aisle, do you spend extra time looking for that “GMO-free” label before you decide to buy? If so, let me help you cut your shopping time in half: Don’t worry about GMOs. Decades of research prove that non-GMO labels don’t mean healthier or safer food — but they can mean higher prices.
A recent study published by Food Policy figured out just how much higher, showing that consumers are consistently paying up to 62% more for foods labeled non-GMO (and up to 90% more for organics!).
So, save yourself the extra money next time and rest assured you’re not losing any extra vitamins — don’t waste your “worry points” on the cereal aisle. Pick what you like and move on.
Bread (with gluten!)
Food allergies and sensitivites aside, gluten isn’t actually the enemy for most people! Recent studies have found that there are no specific health benefits to be gained from a gluten-free diet, and in reality, the very opposite might be true. Gluten is actually proven to lower your risk of heart disease and contribute to better gut health. For people without celiac disease, there is no definitive evidence to support claims that a strict gluten-free diet is beneficial for health. So if you’re getting sick of lettuce wraps, go ahead and enjoy that sandwich, pick the flour tortilla, or eat your pizza sans cauliflower crust — and savor that gluten as part of your overall balanced way of eating.
There’s a nasty rumor going around that you shouldn’t eat edamame because soy is often grown with GMO Farming methods — have you heard it? I love edamame. My girls love it boiled with a little salt. It’s such an easy and convenient snack, warm or cold. I love that my kids get a nice combination of plant protein plus vitamins and minerals in a snack they truly enjoy eating.
As far science goes, there is no reason to avoid edamame foods. You don’t have to just take my word for it; visit the National Academy of Sciences, European Commission, and World Health Organization to read more.
The truth is, avoiding GMOs in the name of health is not the healthiest choice, no matter which way you look at it. This point is important to me because it’s a passion of mine to help my family members and Body Kindness readers alike make informed food choices that fit their budget, time and resources, which we all know can often be a challenge.
Sometimes foods have more benefits than meet the eye. Butter has long been hailed as the enemy of anyone who desires to eat well, but butter can make many foods – vegetables especially – taste better.
Even more, the fat in butter helps your body absorb fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, K in the meal. So roast up that kale or carrots and finish with some delicious butter. Or fire up your grill for some sweet corn slathered in salted butter.
Here’s a bit of information new parents may not know: The plentiful nutrients in vegetables can actually add a slight bitter taste that most adults don’t even notice anymore (like calcium, polyphenols and flavonoids), but kids do. To help your kids get past the taste in the beginning, mask the bitterness with a little butter! As an added bonus, a small to moderate dose of butter contains vitamins A, E and D3, which help kids grow to be healthy and strong.
Separating “Right” from “Wrong” in Eating Habits – It’s Up to You!
I’m hoping I dispelled at least some of the food shame you might have faced in the past. Remember, your preferences matter. Taste really matters because it’s how you connect joy with healthy eating patterns instead of individually judging food or yourself for liking certain foods. Who is this random “food judge” anyway? You have the wisdom you need to make choices that fit your varying tastes and budget. Trust yourself. If you need some help, a qualified registered dietitian nutritionist can be a great help for tailored advice.
This post is sponsored by A Fresh Look, a 501(c) (6) organization, whose mission is to provide trustworthy research-based info to consumers about the benefits of GMO Farming methods.
Nat’l Academy: https://www.nap.edu/read/23395/chapter/8#172
EU Commission: https://ec.europa.eu/research/biosociety/pdf/a_decade_of_eu-funded_gmo_research.pdf