Common misconceptions about healthy eating

During my career as a Registered Dietitian, I have come across many misconceptions about healthy eating. Listed below are a few of the most common misconceptions I continue to hear.

Misconception #1 – There are good and bad foods

There are no “good” or “bad” foods. The only reasons not to eat a specific food or category of food is because:

  • you are allergic or intolerant to this food or category
  • you have been instructed by your doctor or dietitian to avoid this food or category for a specific reason
  • you simply dislike that food 

Otherwise, any food can be part of healthy eating included in a healthy lifestyle. For those who have read my other blogs, you know that I believe in moderation!

Misconception #2 – Healthy eating means eating only homemade meals

Readymade meals (frozen or fresh) as well as eating take out can be part of healthy eating. The key is balance! We are not all gourmet chefs nor do we always have the time or desire to cook scratch meals all the time. Buying a pre-made meal such as lasagna or a take-out meal and adding a salad or side veggies is still part of healthy eating. The key is focusing on the choices you are making. There are now many balanced, less processed options available to choose from. If you find yourself having to have take-out meals more often, check out the various options available to you. If you feel like having fast food burgers and fries, go for it today and have something a bit more balanced tomorrow.  A registered dietitian can help you figure out how to incorporate all foods into your healthy lifestyle.

Misconception #3 – Mixed foods/bowls are not balanced meals

For some of my clients, I use the plate model to help explain the idea of balance when eating. The plate method for those that are not familiar, divides your plate into three sections to be made up with one-half veggies/fruit, one-quarter protein and one-quarter carbohydrate. Does that mean you can only have balanced meals if you separate your food on your plate in this way? No.

There are so many delicious and balanced “mixed” or “bowl” foods/meals. The key is the proportion of the components. Balance eating simply means keeping an eye on what you are eating overall so that you can be sure you are not missing any key nutrients.  If you choose to have a heavier carb type meal (such as pasta), consider adding veggies and protein into the dish, on the side or as a snack another time of the day.

The plate method does work well for some but we are all individuals and so there is no cookie cutter healthy eating guide that works for everyone.

Misconception #4 – You can never have sugar

All carbohydrates, including simple sugars, moderate carbs and complex carbs can be part of healthy eating. There is the perception that all sugar is bad for you, but there are times when sugar is helpful such as a quick energy source during some forms of physical activity. Some sugary foods are also delicious. The key again is to ensure that you are not only eating high sugar foods but are including them in moderation as part of healthy eating. So yes, you can have ice cream or cake or chocolate and still maintain your healthy lifestyle.

Check our my previous blog “Why do we need carbohydrates” for more information about carbohydrates and healthy eating

There are many other misconceptions beyond those I mentioned above. If you have any other questions about healthy eating, a new diet/food fad or about the misconceptions covered in this blog reach out to your local dietitian. A dietitian can help you find out what healthy eating looks like for you.    

If you are interested in speaking with at dietitian and live in Ontario, Canada please check out the Nutrition Tab of this site to learn more about the services I provide through my private practice.

Disclaimer:  The above information is intended for general public education and is not intended to be dietetic advice in any respect or to any person. Use of this information does not make any person a direct client of Tanya Brown,RD for any purpose and no such relationship will exist unless a formal client relationship has been entered into. Please consult your Doctor or a Registered Dietitian for individual recommendations prior to making any dietary or lifestyle changes.

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