Healthy eating rules that should be broken
You only have to google “diet tips” to see there are more than a few healthy eating ‘rules’ floating around. Some of them even contradict each other, so it’s no wonder why it’s so difficult to separate fact from fiction and make sensible food choices. To steer you in the right direction, these are the food rules you can safely ignore…
#1 Go gluten-free
For people who are coeliac, it’s essential to go gluten-free. But for the rest of us, the strict diet can actually have adverse effects. By ditching gluten, you can miss out on vital nutrients your body needs. Plus, many gluten-free substitute foods contain added fat and sugar to enhance taste and texture – so they’re best avoided!
#2 Avoid red meat
Red meat’s copped a bad rap in recent years, but it’s one of the most nutritious foods you can eat. Loaded with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, it’s also a great source of iron – which is especially important for women, who are at risk of iron deficiency. But of course, it’s all about moderation: Australian guidelines recommend three to four small serves (between 65 and 100 grams) a week.
#3 Drink 8 glasses of water a day
While it’s definitely important to stay hydrated for overall health (and glowing skin), recent studies have shown there is such a thing as drinking too much water. According to current advice, women need 1.6 litres of fluid a day, but the fluid doesn’t necessarily have to be all water – dietician Dr Frankie Phillips recommends having “a mixture of different drinks throughout the day, such as milk, which is rich in calcium, and small amounts of fruit juice, which contain good levels of vitamin C”.
#4 Skip the microwave
You may have heard that using a microwave reduces the amount and quality of nutrients in food. In reality, there are several other cooking methods that are a lot worse – over-boiling, for example, can wreak havoc on your healthy veggies. According to food experts at Harvard University, "the cooking method that best retains nutrients is one that cooks quickly, heats food for the shortest amount of time, and uses as little liquid as possible. Microwaving meets those criteria." So yes, the microwave stays! *Cue sigh of relief about leftover lunches*
#5 Don’t eat late at night
Eating at night has long been associated with weight gain, but calories are calories no matter when or how you consume them. As you can probably guess, the calorie in/calorie out theory says the more important factors are portion size and physical activity. The good news? You can have that late night cookie with no less guilt than you’d feel at morning tea time!
#6 Choose low-fat
As a type one diabetic, I’m particularly conscious of how many low-fat food products contain twice as much sugar as their fattier counterparts. It turns out that low-fat yoghurt’s not so healthy after all! Good fats (aka the unsaturated kind found in foods like oily fish, nuts and olive oil) are essential for brain function – plus, they help to lower the glycaemic index of your overall meal, meaning you’ll have more energy for longer. So, choosing low fat foods isn't necessarily the healthier choice.
What healthy eating rules do you follow? Have you heard of any other food myths?