4 Common Health Myths
Ah weight loss… you are the magical unicorn which we seek. We set out with such high expectations before us. Starting fresh and creating new and wonderful ways, setting goals for succeeding health and weight loss only to find ourselves discouraged and deluded by not only our scales but the mass propaganda of the weight loss community and old school thinking, preventing us.
Well I’m here to help with a bit of weight loss and lifestyle myth busting with 4 simple truths..
Scales don’t tell the whole story!
When we jump on the scales we have to remember we are more than just the number in front of us. No, it doesn't matter how many times you move the scales round the bathroom floor looking for the glory spot. You have feel judged and feel shame by the numbers. In a last ditch effort, you try weighing yourselves naked. Picking the scales up and shaking them in case they need re-calibrating. Going to the toilet only to be disheartened that the number hasn’t moved in your favour. You don’t understand you have been working so hard, eating right and moving more. Why? Why Doesn’t it show on the scales?
Let's go back to the old school maths problem - what weights more a kilo of lead or a kilo of feathers? No difference right, because they both weigh the same. Now if we are talking about volume then sure the feathers are going to take up more space (volume) but still weigh the same as the lead. Our bodies are made up of, (no not feathers and lead) but a whole assortment of body tissue with fat being only one component. And what we need to remember is that like the feathers it takes up more volume than muscle. So when we lose fat and gain muscle the scales may not change, but you will notice it - usually in how much toned and firmer everything feels, how much better your clothes fit and by taking good old fashion measurements and watching the centimetres whittle away.
Look at nutrients not calories.
Many of us have been lead to believe that the key to weight loss is as simple as burning more calories than you eat, calories in = calories out. Makes sense and in an ideal world it would be true. But let's stop and look at this for a moment one, just one M&M has 4 cal. Its estimated (depending on weight etc) that 30 seconds of non-stop burpees burns 5 Cal! And how many people eat just one M&M, (not me that’s for sure) so that's one burpee per M&M. Ah yea no thanks. So that whole handful you just scoffed would equal how many burpees? So the simple choice would be not to eat the M&Ms in the first place right!
We need to also remember that not all calories are created equal. I give you the example of 200 calorie real fruit smoothie versus a 200 calorie glass of cola or worse a 0 calorie soft drink. The smoothie contains nutrients such as fibre, and vitamins and minerals, while the soft drink contains excessive amounts of sugar and…. more sugar in the form of high fructose corn syrup, oh and some phosphoric acid as well as synthetic colours and flavourings, while you zero cal diet drink contains chemicals which have been associated with cancers and were developed accidentally when a scientist was trying to make a rat poison. Yep true story. The scientist accidentally got some on his tongue and thought wow this tastes really sweet, “maybe I could sell it to the people as a sugar alternative and make millions”. Mmmm rat poison sweet… Mmmm.
The amount of packaged and processed foods on our shelves today compared to 40 even 20 years ago is insane. Marketing wrappers sporting fat free, sugar free, natural, organic, health, star rating and health systems all shouting at us for attention and our dollars. Unfortunately, most of the products also nutrient devoid, and on closer inspection don't’ live up to the “health” claims made on the front of the box.
Whenever we do any form of processing, food nutrients are lost. Yep, even chopping and cooking can cause a loss of nutrients. So if that loss is happening in our kitchens how much nutrient loss is cause on massive industrial size food productions? Please understand I’m not saying all food processing is bad, but evidence is suggesting the high consumption of over processed foods are robbing us of nutrients such as vitamins and minerals as well as things such as fibre. Products are actually fortifying (adding back in) nutrients lost during processing, but the concerns here is that it is a synthetic nutrient added back in, what effects is this having on our bodies? Is it the same as the natural occurring?
My point here is to eat whole, natural foods as often as you can, preferably organic. Cook at home not only will you save money but it's also kinder to the environment. If you are going to buy package stuff (let face it we all do and will) limit it and be aware of your choices.
Fat is not to be feared - as long as it's the right type.
The fat fearing trend of the 70’s and 80’s be gone. Fat is friend and essential to our body and its mechanism, but not all fats are created equal. Basically there are four different types of fat. Trans fats (that’s bad), Monounsaturated fats (That’s good), polyunsaturated fats (that's good and bad) and saturated fats (depends on how much is consumed and in what form - standby I’ll explain more in a second). We need fat for energy, insulation (think I may have a couple of spare layers), structural components of cells, the use of metabolic functions including the uptake of fat soluble vitamins oh and they help make our food taste better too.
Trans fats - Ewww. this is a franken-fat, hydrogen is added to the oil to help it solidify (also known as hydrogenated oils - mmm sounds tasty). Trans fats are a fave of the food industry due to the long shelf life and the texture that the give to processed foods especially biscuits, crackers and cakes. In essence to make a Trans fat vegetable oils which are generally liquid at room temperature then have mad scientists (well that how it happens in my head) pump hydrogen into them changing the chemical structure of the oil and helping it to become solid so we can spread it on our toast, or slather it on our corn. Ah yea, no thanks I’ll pass.
Saturated fats - Not as bad as you once were made to think. These guys were the poster child for we hate fat campaigns of years gone by. Generally there are naturally occurring fats which are found in animal products, dairy, meats etc. Studies still suggests that excessive consumption may still have negative impacts on your cardiovascular health. The exception to this rule is coconut oil, while high in saturated fat it is a medium chain fatty acid for all you chemistry nerds out there. This guy has been shown to hold health properties, but again over consumption of anything is not a good thing so consume mindfully.
Monounsaturated fats - the good stuff (if used the right way) this included avocado oil, macadamia oil and good old olive oil (we couldn’t find popeye😉). There are also a large component of nuts and have been linked to helping lower risk factors for heart disease.
Some like it hot, but if you are cooking with these guys use sparingly. Evidence is conflicting as to whether we should or shouldn’t
Then there are the Omegas - no this is not a frat house in the US, these are the polyunsaturated fats,. These guys are essential fatty acids 6 and 3 which we need in our diets….. Unfortunately omega 6 while essential is consumed in vast quantities in western diets through our lust for highly processed foods cooked in canola oil, and this guy is believed to be a major contributor of inflammation in our bodies. To combat we need to look at our omega 3 intake which can be got through foods like fish (especially oil fish like Salmon and Tuna), flaxseed and chia.
Diet’s don’t work!!!
Diets. It's a four letter word. Think I might start using that way too. Unfortunately the meaning has been skewed to now mean a short period of time where you deprive yourself in the pursuit of weight loss. Often when the diet is finished people’s weight is ok for a while but old habits creep back in and suddenly they are back not only where they started but with a few extra kilos for good measure. Instead of dieting opt for lifestyle changes. Changes that are long term and sustainable, and you don’t have to do it all at once. Start by increasing your water intake, then by increasing the amount of fresh produce, maybe start moving more and slowly these changes become part of your life and are commitments to your health for the long term.
Go forth my pretties with confidence and knowledge.
Allison is a qualified Naturopathy and Nutritional & Western Herbal Medicine. As the founder of Fundamental Wellbeing she specialises in gut health and stress related conditions. Allison possesses as strong passion for all things health and wellness, she understands that balance is essential to life, looking for real world solutions to help client’s reach their health goals.
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