If your fitness trainer tells you to stay away from your favourite foods, then you need to find yourself a new one.
Nutrition is one of the most butchered aspects of health and fitness primarily due to misinformation being distributed by movement coaches with little to outdated knowledge on the topic.
One way to keep yourself informed is to question and research the information that is passed on to you, for your own sake and for the sake of others if you too decide to pass it on. This should come as a no-brainer because science is ever-evolving and studies become dated due to which they are often proven inaccurate and/or flawed.
This is precisely why I got in touch with Sameet Alam Khan, a PN1 Nutrition Coach, and Nazish Chagla, an Integrative Nutrition Health Coach, to shed light on the most common nutrition myths they’ve heard.
Myth: Sugar is addictive/bad for you
Sameet: Sugar is not addictive, if it were, we would see people eating sugar straight out of the jar.
When people say you shouldn’t eat foods high in sugar, they’re ill-informed because sugary foods like donuts, milkshakes, chocolates are high in sugar but they are also high in fat and salt. This combination makes them hyperpalatable, i.e. tasty.
Hyperpalatable foods are engineered to cause us to crave them; they impact our brain and taste buds — that’s why we tend to lose control around these foods and overconsume them. It is the overconsumption of calories [from these foods] which causes weight gain and certain health markers, etc — it’s not due to sugar alone.
However, sugar does not have any necessary nutrients and most of our diet should not include it. Having said that, as long as most of our diet is filled with protein sources, whole foods, sufficient fibre, minerals as well as vitamins, then consuming some sugar allows us to enjoy foods and be flexible with our diet.
Sugar itself is not harmful but in the long run it can lead to overconsumption and that can have negative side effects.
Myth: You have to eat clean all the time to be healthy
Nazish: Eating a variety of nutritionally dense foods is key as they keep you satiated and you can indulge in everything else once in a while as long as you can find your body’s own unique balance.
Myth: Food is either good or bad and the latter should be avoided
Sameet: Our relationship with food has become distorted — we see food in binaries: 1) good food, high in nutritional value and perhaps low in calories, and 2) bad food, which may be tasty but is comparatively higher in calories and lower in nutritional value.
We try to avoid the ‘bad’ foods because [for most of us] they are associated with guilt, but because they taste good we eventually end up eating them, which then leads to feelings of shame and regret. This pattern of restriction sets off a cycle of “eating clean” contributing towards bingeing — messing up our relationship with food. Food isn’t good or bad, it only…