Starting a new diet can be challenging. What can make it even harder is if you believe all of the myths out there, and aren't able to focus on your own healthy eating goals. There is a lot of misinformation out there!
As a registered dietitian, these are the myths I hear constantly. Here, I separate fact from fiction, and offer some advice to keep you on the healthy track.
Myth #1: You have to cut out certain foods to lose weight.
Losing weight is really about adding healthier foods to your diet. Think more veggies, more often, and strive to eat more produce, seafood, plant-based protein sources (chickpeas, lentils, beans), nuts and seeds.
Take a closer look at your diet, and figure out where you can add more veggies and fruits to meals and snacks. Try to add one extra veggie to a meal per day, or one extra piece of fruit with your snack. You'll be consuming more nutrients, and you'll feel more full.
Myth #2: I need a post-holiday detox.
It's time we all stop buying into the myth of "detox" products. Your body naturally detoxes itself, and you don't need any drinks or cleanses to help it.
Stick to this rule: Chew don't drink your meals. Digestion begins in your mouth, so the whole process of chewing, digesting and absorbing nutrients can help you feel more satisfied. Be wary of any "tea tox" or "cleanse" products. They aren't evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration, so there's no guarantee you're getting what you pay for. Plus, some may have health risks.
Instead of trying to detox your body, aim to eat breakfast every day. Filling up on more protein and produce at your morning meal can help you stay satisfied and energized. Try a PBB, peanut butter and banana with a slice of whole-grain bread, then have a latte with non-fat or unsweetened soy milk when you get to work.
Myth #3: I have no willpower!
When it comes to food, willpower is not a thing. It's often a result of biology or a pattern or habit. So get it out of your mind that you're holding yourself back. Instead, focus on things you can do to stay on track:
- Drink: Aim to drink 16 ounces of water, sparkling water or unsweetened beverages. Sometimes, it can be tough to discern if you're hungry or thirsty.
- Snack: Eat every 3-4 hours. Skipping meals is never a good idea. Pack ahead snacks that are filled with a combination of protein and fiber, like cheese and fruit you can throw in your bag.
- Sleep: Sometimes, we feel hungrier because we're completely exhausted. Try to prioritize your sleep as best you can.
Myth #4: I'm addicted to sugar.
The "addiction" concept has some biochemical roots, but there's no evidence to support that this concept applies to humans. Most of us are eating a lot of added sugar by consuming sugary beverages, breakfast pastries and cereals. Sauces and savory snacks can also have tons of added sugar.
Allow yourself to have treats, but plan accordingly. Keep it at or under 250 calories a day, and go for the real deal instead of a "diet" dessert.
Try to avoid "desserts-in-disguise," these can be labeled as: tapioca syrup, evaporated cane juice, brown rice syrup, agave nectar or fruit juice concentrate.
Myth 5: I can't eat healthy while dining out.
People think they can only eat healthy at restaurant by ordering salad, with dressing on the side. Here are a few strategies to use when dining out to help you order healthy options:
- Skip breaded, fried or cured items in any order. Look for a mix of fiber, protein and fat, like dishes that include avocado, nuts, seeds, plant-based protein.
- Say yes to side dishes. However you can modify an order to make veggies the star of any meal, go for it. Look for veggie-based soups, roasted veggie appetizers or an antipasto salad.
For more advice from Jackie London, check out her book, "Dressing on the Side (and Other Diet Myths Debunked): 11 Science-Based Ways to Eat More, Stress Less, and Feel Great about Your Body"