Oh my gosh – nutrition and diet info is everywhere, am I right!? And each expert or “expert” tries to lead you in their direction because they know best and their advice is going to help you. Right!?
There is no shortage of health information available on the internet, in the media, and from well-meaning family and friends. But some of that information may be doing you more harm than good.
So I wanted to spill the beans about some common healthy eating myths.
MYTH 1: HOW MUCH YOU EAT MATTERS
Everyone has heard (and maybe lived through) the intense focus on how much you eat. This has gotten way too much attention because while this does affect your weight and energy level, it’s certainly not the “holy grail” of health.
The “calories in, calories out” philosophy (i.e. how much you eat) is being drowned out with research on other factors that may be just as important. Don’t get me wrong limiting calories can certainly help you lose weight, and it’s certainly a logical place to start, but that’s simply not the only factor for long-term weight loss success. WHAT you eat is also super important and in fact, I believe is THE most important key for weight loss success.
Ideally, you need a varied diet full of minimally-processed foods (i.e. fewer “packaged”, “ready-to-eat” foods). This is the fundamental principle when it comes to weight loss, improving energy, and overall health and wellness. But, you already knew that right?
MYTH 2: IT DOESN’T MATTER HOW I EAT, IT ALL ENDS UP IN MY STOMACH ANYWAY
Studies are definitely showing that how you eat has more of an impact than we previously thought.
Are you rushed, not properly chewing your food, and possibly suffering from gastrointestinal issues? Do you drink your food (yes, I’m talking to all you smoothie lovers)?
I’m a big fan of mindful eating. Eating mindfully means to take smaller bites, eat slowly, chew thoroughly, and savour every bite. Notice and appreciate the smell, taste and texture. Breathe.
This gives your digestive system the hint to prepare for digestion and to secrete necessary enzymes.
This can also help with weight loss because eating slower often means eating less. Did you know that it takes about 20 minutes for your brain to know that your stomach is full?
MYTH 3: SMOOTHIES OR MEAL REPLACEMENTS ARE ONE OF THE BEST WAYS TO LOSE WEIGHT
Look, I’m not saying they don’t work, but not all smoothies and meal replacements are created equal. And really, who wants to be drinking smoothies forever.
I’m not against smoothies…in fact, I think they can be healthy, fabulously easy to make, and a tasty way to get in some veggies (hello leafy greens!) for breakfast. And they are way better than stopping for convenient junk food. But they certainly are not for everyone.
I love a good green smoothie for an amazingly nutrient-dense meal, but remember, it should be considered just that…a MEAL and not a snack. Don’t gulp it down too fast. Savour it and drink it mindfully.
If you are not feeling satisfied after your smoothie and if it doesn’t fill you up like a full meal does, try adding in a spoon of fibre like linseeds or chia seeds.
MYTH 4: CARBS ARE THE ENEMY
This is one of the things I talk most about with my patients. No, carbs are NOT the enemy. BUT, we do need to look at how much we’re having.
I don’t believe everyone needs to follow a strict “keto” diet, and to be honest, I think that’s quite an unhealthy way to eat as it cuts out most fruit and legumes. Any diet that cuts out something as nutritious and healthy as that gets a big thumbs down from me.
You’ve heard of the “Blue Zones” right? You know, those places in the world where people live much longer than the average. Well, the humble legume is a cornerstone of the diet in many of these places (think the Mediterranean diet).
So, no, we don’t need to completely restrict the number of carbs we are eating, but I do believe that eating a lower carb diet is essential for long term weight loss success, improving energy, and overall general health and wellness.
As a society, we tend to eat too many carbohydrates. This can come in the form of packaged, convenience foods, but also bread, pasta, rice, and other grains. Some of us even have way more fruit than our bodies actually need.
So I think anywhere we can reduce the amount of bread, pasta and rice we are eating is a good thing. It doesn’t mean we can’t eat them, but I believe for the most part we probably just don’t need them as an integral part of our diet. We can get the carbohydrates our bodies need from vegetables, small amounts of fruit, dairy, nuts, seeds and legumes!
This philosophy is reflected in the meal plans I make for my clients as well as in my online weight loss program, and is how I eat in my day-to-day also!
SO SARAH, WHAT THE HELL AM I SUPPOSED TO EAT?
Every day this is what you should aim for:
- A colourful array of veggies at almost every meal and snack. You need the fibre, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals
- No more than 2 serves of fruit a day. If you are getting this from your smoothie alone, you don’t need to eat more during the day!
- Enough protein. Making sure you get all of those essential amino acids (bonus: eating protein can increase your metabolism).
- Healthy fats and oils. There is a reason some fatty acids are called “essential” – you need them as building blocks for your hormones and brain as well as to be able to absorb essential fat-soluble vitamins from your uber-healthy salads. You don’t need to overdo it here i.e. don’t drown your salad in extra virgin olive oil, and don’t eat nuts by the handful. But, you do need to make sure you’re getting some high-quality fats.
- Dairy – think natural Greek yoghurt and small amounts of cheese.
I know how confusing it can be to hear all these health messages out there. And I know you’re thinking “why should I believe Sarah over all the other nutritionists and health gurus out there?” Because my way works! Plain and simple! This is what I do daily! I help people shift the weight and keep it off. In clinic, I try my best to allow you freedom and flexibility and keep your most loved meals and snacks in place, but if you’re still not losing weight, it might be time to change things up and fully jump on board with me and my philosophy!
I’m working on an online weight loss program, designed for women aged 30-60 who are struggling to shift the weight and maintain it long-term! It will come with weekly lower carb meal plans, recipes and educational lessons. Plus, you get my support and the support of all the other amazing women in the tribe through an online Facebook group, Facebook Q+A’s with me, with ongoing support so you can get all your questions answered. It is THE place to be for accountability, motivation and support! If this sounds like something you need in your life ASAP then get in touch with me immediately – email me, dm me on instagram, message me on facebook, call me, or comment below on this blog!
Smoothie Recipe: Chia Peach Green Smoothie
- handful baby spinach
- 1 tablespoon chia seeds
- 1 banana
- 1 chopped peach
- 1 cup unsweetened almond milk (calcium fortified)
Add ingredients to blender in the order listed (you want your greens on the bottom by the blade so they blend better and have the chia on the bottom to absorb some liquid before you blend).
Wait a couple of minutes for the chia seeds to start soaking up the almond milk.
Blend, Serve and Enjoy!
Tip: Try swapping different greens, fruit or seeds to keep things interesting.
Bonus: chia seeds not only have fibre and essential omega-3 fatty acids but they contain all of the essential amino acids (the building blocks to make protein).