Do You Believe These Food Myths?

“One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.”
~ Virginia Woolf

Of all the untruths in the world, some of the most pervasive involve food.

And unlike obvious lies, food myths are subtle. They usually cater to our wishes, not the facts.

Here are some food myths that you might have heard and why they aren’t true…

1. If you add nutrients to processed food it makes it okay.

Remember Wonder Bread? Their slogan was “builds strong bodies 12 ways.” They based this on the fact that they added 12 nutrients to the bread. And people bought it. That was the real wonder.

In fact, refined white flour has far more taken out of it than 12 nutrients. And the amounts of the ones they added back in were minimal.

Other examples are all the products sold with “added calcium.” Really? As if one nutrient could make a difference.

2. If you take out “bad” things, the food is better for you.

This one is very common. Think of “fat-free” and you’ll get the idea. Or how about, “no artificial coloring”?

In the first place, not all fats are bad for you. So removing them doesn’t improve the food. This is especially true of dairy products. Low fat and non-fat milk are not much better than soda pop.

And remember that removing something that is naturally part of a food requires processing. It denatures the food. And denatured food isn’t good for you.

In the second instance, not putting something in that’s bad really isn’t an improvement. They might as well say, “no added arsenic.” Or how about, “no cement added.” Make up your own…

3. It doesn’t matter what you eat if you keep your calories low.

This is the old calorie myth. Implied in it is the idea that 200 calories of fudge is the same as 200 calories of grass-fed beef. Common sense tells you that can’t be true. If you doubt that, try going on the “all fudge diet” and see how you do.

Remember, it’s what you eat, not just the calories it contains.

4. New and improved isn’t necessarily so.

Food companies are well known for changing packaging to entice you. They’ll say, “Made with whole grains” on the junk cereal box. They don’t mention the added sugar.

Or they say, “sweetened with agave (or honey or whatever)” as if agave or honey isn’t sugar.

There is an endless battle going on to convince you that things you know aren’t good for you have changed somehow for the better. Don’t believe it for a second.

5. If you exercise enough you can eat whatever you want.

In the personal training world there’s a saying: “You can’t out exercise a bad diet.”

Here is an example of this in action:

Many years ago I knew someone who was an exercise fanatic. He meditated 2 hours a day. He did hard exercise 4 hours a day. And this was on top of his teaching job at a prestigious private university.

One year on his birthday, his wife made him key lime pie. It was his favorite. After dinner he enjoyed a piece. It was so good he had a second. Half way through the second piece he went blind.

Fortunately it wasn’t complete or permanent blindness. He gradually was able to see somewhat better. But his night vision was never good enough to drive at night again.

The short story is what you put in your body counts. And it counts even more than how much you exercise.

How can you combat these myths?

The best way is to listen to your body. If you do, it will let you know when foods are good or bad. It will let you know when you’ve exercised enough or not. It’s your very best source for real health information.

All the best to you for your health and happiness,

Dr. Bruce Eichelberger

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