If you were to ask a group of people what ‘being healthy’ means to them, there’s a good chance every answer will be different. As it should because each body is different and what might work for some, does not work for all! With so much confusing and conflicting information floating around, it can be difficult to know if you’re doing more harm than good in your quest to homeostasis. We’ve sifted through some of the biggest misconceptions in mainstream nutrition and overall health to help relieve your diet stress and to know your body better.
1.All Calories Count the Same
Calorie counting has taken the lead for most weight loss plans and has been drilled into our minds as the most essential metric of nutrition. What is however not clearly communicated by most nutrition professionals is, not all calories are created equal! Certain foods increase metabolic rate in the body and others slow it down. While we don’t deny the importance of calories, the terms we’ve created around them can be confusing and do little to help the average person achieve their weight loss goal. Weight gain is indeed caused by eating more calories than you expend, so it’s important to choose filling, nutritious whole foods to sustain your energy. Eating 500 calories of processed or fast food, does not act the same in the body as a 500 calorie meal composed of vegetables, lean protein, and heart healthy fats. Rather than counting calories, choose organic whole foods and listen to your body when it’s had enough.
- There’s No Such Thing as Too Much Protein
If you’re a vegetarian or vegan, you’ve probably been asked more than once, “but where do you get your protein?!”. Yes, protein is an essential part of a healthy diet that helps build and repair muscles, organs, and bones but there is a common misconception surrounding the amount of protein intake we need. Many people consume much more protein than necessary, especially when trying to lose weight. On average, a sedentary woman needs 46 grams of protein per day. (An active lifestyle can require more) To put this into perspective, two eggs contain between 12-16 grams of protein so if you’re adding chicken and steak to every meal, you very may well be overdoing it. Consuming too much on a regular basis may actually cause you to gain weight over time if you’re replacing your carbohydrates with protein rather than quality fats.
- All Fat is Bad
Eating fat does not necessarily equal gaining fat. Fat is an essential source of energy for the body and is used to build cell membranes, improve muscle movement, and decrease inflammation. For years, food manufacturers have profited off the low-fat diet craze, stripping food of the fat content and adding other fillers to compensate for taste. These fillers usually appear in the form of artificial or genetically modified ingredients from sugar beets, corn, wheat or soy. The highly processed foods are unhealthy and can lead to a variety of different complications. A whole food, balanced diet that includes fat, protein and carbohydrates has been proven to reduce body fat content more so than low-fat and calorie restricting diets.
All fat has a similar chemical structure; what makes each differ is the length and shape of the carbon chain and the number of hydrogen atoms connected. These slight changes are crucial for the fat’s form and function in the body. Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated food such as nuts, avocado, and flaxseed act as good fat in the body whereas you should avoid industrial made trans-fat that is found in processed foods such as packaged sweets, margarine, and microwave popcorn.
- Drink Your Milk:
There’s tons of controversial information surrounding dairy these days, and similar to fat, not all dairy products are the same. The health impact starts from the source of the animals providing the milk for whatever delicious creamy treat you’re craving. One may argue the milk coming from a cow is meant to feed a growing calf, not a fully grown human. Lactose, the main carbohydrate in dairy, is difficult for many people to break down and can cause digestive symptoms. Caseins in dairy may also be problematic for some. Dairy is also known to create mucus in the body that can attract bacteria and yeast making you more susceptible to illness or even worsening symptoms when you are ill. There are however lower lactose and casein dairy products such as goat cheese and feta that are easier on the digestive system.
- Steer Clear of All Soy:
The soy bean has been consumed in traditional Asian diets dating back to 9,000 BC. It’s still popular today as a plant-based protein and in many processed foods. Soy is a great source of plant protein because it contains all nine essential amino acids making it a complete protein. Soy also contains isoflavones that act as naturally occurring properties similar to estrogen that aid in body weight regulation for women. Due to its high demand, soy is the number one genetically modified food on the market! So If you’re going to add it into your diet, make sure to find an organic non-GMO soy source and avoid soy and soy derivates in processed food.
- Rise and Shine with Breakfast
Intermittent fasting involves abstaining from consuming food for a set amount of time. Rather than controlling calories, controlling the hours in which you eat may offer benefits such as fat loss, increased energy and overall health. The most common method is the 12 hour fast. Research shows that fasting for 10-16 hours daily allows the stomach acids in the body to digest the food you’ve taken in for the day. If you’re curious to try, the 12-hour fast is a great way to start fasting because most of the time is spent asleep. Try abstaining from food between 7PM-7AM this week and see how your body responds!
- Lifting Makes You Bulky:
There’s a common misconception among women that lifting weights will make you ‘bulk up’. Unlike men, women have significantly less hormones that cause muscle hypertrophy. This means we can develop muscle tone and definition without gaining the bulk. Females who participate in weight lifting burn more existing fat and increase muscle mass that will boost the metabolism and burn more calories throughout the day. In addition to making your muscles stronger, weight training increases spinal bone mineral density decreasing your risk of osteoporosis. If you want better results from your workouts, add weight!
- Meditation is for Hippies:
If you’re not used to ‘traditional’ meditation, the concept of sitting in silence with your thoughts could be enough to scare you away! However, meditation takes many shapes and forms that all boost mental health, reduce stress, and relieve chronic pain. Whether you’re sitting still with your legs crossed, or moving through a yoga vinyasa, meditating is about quieting the mind and observing one’s thoughts, emotions, and sensations to improve self-reliance and clarity. It does however take practice no matter what form you choose so it’s important to follow the guidance of an experienced practitioner.
- Shield the Sun:
Living in Hawaii, this one is a huge relief! Last week we talked about the benefits of sun exposure for the skin in small doses. While we still agree over exposure can be damaging to the skin, there’s no reason to shun yourself from the sun especially for your mental health. Sunlight works through brain receptors that affect our mental status and alertness. By increasing serotonin levels in the body, we feel a boost in mood and focus. It’s also proven to produce melatonin in the body, promoting better sleep, lowering stress reactivity, and synchronizing biological clocks.
One of the most commonly known benefits of sun exposure is the natural source of Vitamin D. Vitamin D works to strengthen your immune system and fight off infection and disease. Early morning sun exposure is gentle enough to leave the sunscreen behind for 20-30 minutes and soak up some Vitamin D. The morning light has even been proven in reducing body fat!
- You’re on Your Own!
For most of us, nutrition and health doesn’t come easily! Luckily, there’s a solution you can count on to reign in your diet and lifestyle habits! Holly’s H Lyfe Method is developed from a unique set of identifiers that allow her to create the most ideal nutrient rich food plans for individual body types. The trademarked evaluation system analyzes an individual’s inherent traits, genetic indicators, ayurvedic categorization, current state of health and lifestyle to achieve weight loss goals and optimize health. Through the process, the individual learns more about themselves and what’s best for their unique body. These discoveries lead to lifelong health, weight management, and a renewed sense of confidence and self love! Are you ready to kickstart your healthier and happier life?