Success seems like it’s best achieved by moderation. No matter what you’re doing, if it becomes an obsession you’re less likely to experience the results you want. When a person turns on the tunnel vision, they can isolate themselves, create undue stress and fail to enjoy so many of the benefits of a diverse life.
This is extremely true when a person is dieting or doing their best to try and eat better. What makes it more difficult is that every day the media reports a superfood that you need to include in your diet if you want to live longer—or, at the other end of the spectrum, the food that will kill you if it’s in your diet. When it comes to diet, losing weight, what you should eat, and your sanity, moderation is the key.
Myth #1: Rarely Indulging Will Throw Off Your Diet
Most of the time you should try and make healthy choices. Choose your calories wisely, control portion sizes, and stay away from processed foods packed with sodium and sugars. However, if you indulge yourself from time to time, perhaps a couple of times a week, you’re unlikely to throw your plans off the rails or make yourself sick. Enjoying a couple slices of pizza, an ice cream cone, hamburger and fries, or sugary snack once in a while is a great way to reward yourself, engage yourself, enjoy yourself, and even rev up your metabolism.
Myth #2: Everything You Read About Nutrition is True
There are all kinds of nutrition myths out there that are perpetrated by people who, for the most part, just need something to write about. They have to meet a deadline so they’ll write about how any sugar in your diet will slowly kill you, or if you don’t eat a cup of blueberries every day you’re not going to live as long. At the end of the day, these are just sensationalized stories drafted to capture readers. Yes, refined sugars consumed in excess can be very dangerous and blueberries can have health benefits, but not nearly to the degree many bloggers or “nutrition experts” might insist.
Myth #3: Added Sugar is Always Bad
Adding sugar to food isn’t always a bad thing. If you don’t particularly like certain fruits, vegetables, or other tart food, sprinkling a small amount of sugar can make it easier to consume. An occasional pinch of sugar on your blueberries, for example, won’t kill you. If it’s what you need to make the blueberries more palatable, the benefits likely outweigh the negatives.
Myth #4: Always Avoid Saturated Fat
Another myth is that saturated fat is evil and it needs to be avoided at all costs. Once again, this naturally occurring fat is fine to consume in moderation. For example, there is no reason to stop eating eggs because of the saturated fat content. Eggs contain good cholesterol that can actually help lower your overall cholesterol, making them a very healthy food.
Myth #5: Added Salt or Sodium is Ruining Your Health
Salt and sodium are constantly vilified. And yes, if you’re eating processed foods on a daily basis that are packed with an astronomical amount of sodium, you might experience health problems and increase your risk for certain cardiovascular issues. But adding a dash of salt to boiling water to cook vegetables or other foods is not a bad thing. In fact, it can actually make your vegetables more nutritious by reducing leaching—the process of nutrient extraction from the water.
At the end of the day, moderation is key. Don’t stress out by adding a little sugar or salt from time to time. Just make a conscious effort to eat healthy 80% of the time. And remember, when you do have that pizza or ice cream, pay attention to your portion. A scoop or slice won’t cause any problems, but the whole tub of ice cream or entire pie can sabotage your health!
Gunnars, K., “6 Healthy Sugars That Can Kill You,” Authority Nutrition web site, December 2, 2013; http://authoritynutrition.com/6-healthy-sugars-that-can-kill-you/, last accessed March 25, 2014.
Upton, J., “10 Nutrition Myths,” Cooking Light web site, http://www.cookinglight.com/eating-smart/nutrition-101/nutrition-myths-facts-00412000067116/, last accessed March 25, 2014.