Food Myths that Need to Stop
1. Microwaves destroy the nutrients in food and make it radioactive
I call this misunderstanding the “white lab coat effect.” A lack of understanding leads to confusion and mistrust. So allow me to explain... It is known that cooking will alter the nutrient content of food. Microwaves use a type radiation (just like the sun, but far less powerful) to target water molecules in food and create heat through friction. Because it requires less cooking time, more nutrients are spared. An added bonus is how convenient it is to prepare meals. You can steam vegetables using a microwave in just minutes
. And as a disclaimer, no, your food does not become radioactive.
Believe it or not, even Superman has a shortfall. The misleading concept of “superfoods” is fueled in part by our dream for the “easy button.” Yes, some foods have more good qualities than others which makes them seem “super.” But no matter what, there is not one food that can do it all. Just like every superhero has different attributes that give them good and bad qualities, food is the same. For example, blueberries have many vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, but have very little protein. The simplest way to maintain a healthy diet is to eat a balanced, varied, and moderate portion of all the food groups, while choosing healthier options.
3. Eating Healthy = $$$$
This is simply wrong. Yes, fast food meals can be very cheap (although, some can also be surprisingly expensive) and Pop Tarts provide you with about 400 calories for less than a dollar, but open-heart surgery and other health complications related to diet are much more expensive. Believe it or not, eating healthy is cheaper than you may think
. Allow me to use myself as an example. In the month of June, I was employed by Killington Mountain School to cook all the meals at a bike camp. I prepared about 360 meals for athletes ages 14-18 at an average meal cost $2.55 a head. This means that a family of 5 eating a filling, tasty, nutritionally dense dinner would cost $12.75. And trust me, these kids ate more seafood, vegetables and whole grains than they ever have before.
4. Eating food “X” will increase my metabolism
This is just like the “superfood” idea and the desire for another “easy button.” Simply eating food increases metabolism because of digestion and normal biology. However, there is no food that slows down or speeds up your metabolism to a degree that will actually do anything. The best way to increase metabolism is to get up and move.
5. Processed foods are bad
The word “processed” has been generalized to have a negative connotation. The fact of the matter is that there are some processed food that are less healthy than others. It is not “processing” that makes them unhealthy, it is what the process is doing and how much you eat. Refined grain tortilla shells are not the same as refined grain desserts. Frozen produce
and 100% whole grain pastas are processed and I would never say that they are unhealthy. Processing foods can make eating healthy easier and give us many options
. If you choose the unhealthy foods, processed or not, your health will suffer.
6. Sugar is evil
First things first, let’s point out that sugar is not the culprit. It is the amount of sugar you eat. Diets that are made up highly processed junk foods (See the above myth) and sugary items are going to be lacking of nutrients and high in calories. It is not the sugar, it is all the negatives of the diet choices combined. Your learned behaviors are resulting in the health outcomes. Like everything in life, there is a limit. You can drink a Pepsi and be perfectly healthy. If you drink 10 a day we may need to talk.
-Nick Fischer, RD, LDN