Welcome to our Weekly Q&A
Welcome to our first Q&A post! I hear great questions from our community every day. Why not answer them in the blog so that everyone can benefit from the answers.
Diet And Health Culture Food Myths
It’s errand day. Your stomach feels like it’s chewing its way out. You pull into the nearest drive-thru and order. You’re happy to get your food quickly and eat.
On the road again, you see a fast-food billboard. This chain advertises “clean”, all-natural, and plant-based options.
Your chest tightens and you feel the sweat bead up on your upper lip. Your thoughts race.
Why did I eat that? If I had waited 5 minutes, I could’ve had a “clean” meal.
You recognize what you’re feeling. You are ashamed of your food choices.
Words Matter…Unless They Don’t
Your day-to-day eating is impacted by diet and health culture. And this can make you feel bad. About your food choices, about your body. It can even make you doubt your ability to feed your body.
You know all those words you see on food packages and billboards?
Clean, organic, plant-based, detox, keto, and raw; all are words that you see repeatedly. People say they are going to set you up for optimal health.
But do these words really mean what they tell you?
Today, let’s look at some of these words and the questions you have about them.
Let’s get started.
Diet Culture Myth #1 – MSG
What’s the deal with MSG? Is it as bad for me as I’ve read?– J.
MSG is an ingredient that people commonly avoid. But you don’t need to.
MSG is an umami flavoring.
What is umami?
It is the 5th flavor that our tongue can detect. It is responsible for meaty and savory flavors.
How is MSG an umami flavor? MSG contains one glutamate amino acid and one sodium ion. Glutamate is responsible for the umami flavor. Glutamate is the most common amino acid in your brain and is important for brain development.
MSG is used in many food cultures. It is well studied and found to be a safe food additive. In fact, the bad that you hear about MSG is usually from anecdotes, which means people saying that they or someone that they know had a reaction to it. While anecdotes are interesting, they aren’t facts that can be used for everyone.
It isn’t an ingredient that you have to eat so it is fine if you choose not to. But, if the only reason that you avoid it is that you’ve heard that it was bad, you can try it. You can ignore this diet culture myth.
Hungry to learn more about umami? Here is deep dive into everything you want to know about umami with Popular Science.
Diet Culture Myth #2 – Preservatives
I heard that preservatives are bad for me. I’ve been avoiding them. Are preservatives really bad?– M.
Food preservatives have a bad rep. But they aren’t bad for you!
In fact, food preservatives do a lot of good. Preservatives keep food safe by reducing the growth of mold and bacteria on your food. They also ensure that you have a tasty product to eat the way that the manufacturer intended.
When you think preservatives you may think of ingredients with names you can’t pronounce. This is thanks to toxic diet and health culture lies. Diet you know sugar, salt, and vitamin E are also preservatives?
Of course, if you feel that you have an allergic reaction to a certain preservative or food additive, it may be best to avoid it until you can discuss it with your doctor.
So next time you avoid preservatives, ask yourself why. It may be that diet and toxic health culture lies are impacting your food choices.
Remember, you don’t have to give in.
Diet Culture Myth #3 – “Bad” Fruit
I know that I need to eat fruit but I don’t know which ones. I’ve heard that some of them aren’t great choices.– P.
Fruit feels tricky sometimes. The internet is full of good foods and bad foods recommendations. A question I hear a lot is, “what fruits are bad for me?”
The most common “bad” fruits? Bananas, pineapple, grapes, and watermelon.
I’ve got great news for you. You can have any fruit that you choose. Even if it is one of the “bad” fruits that you’ve heard of.
All fruits have carbohydrates that our brains and muscles want to use as fuel. They have fiber to help your bowel movements stay regular. Fruits have water to increase your daily fluid. Not to mention the wonderful vitamins and minerals they provide.
Of course, if you have an allergy to a certain fruit, don’t eat it! But other than that, feel free to eat whatever fruit you like. And know that you are doing something great for your body.
Diet Culture Myth #4 – Plant-Based Eating
I’ve been thinking about going plant-based. How can I do it without giving in to diet culture?– S.
For those that might not know, plant-based means including more plant proteins in your diet and fewer animal proteins. But people mean different things when they say plant-based. Some people mean vegan or vegetarian eating patterns. Others just mean making your plate half-full with vegetables.
It can be confusing. When reading about plant-based eating patterns, try to find out what kind of plant-based the writer is discussing.
Plant-based eating is very popular now for a variety of reasons. Some people are seeking sustainable eating patterns, avoiding meat due to ethical concerns, or heart health concerns. But other people do it as a way to lose weight.
There are lots of great ways to include plant-based foods while eating a well-balanced diet. I would encourage you to start simple with meatless Mondays.
Meatless Mondays give you a way to ease into including more plant-based protein sources. Focus on including beans, nuts, and tofu one day a week. Experiment with different seasoning blends to try new flavors.
There are many great reasons to include more plant-based proteins. Think about why you want to go plant-based though. If you’re thinking about switching because of a secret desire for weight loss, I’d recommend you not go plant-based right now.
Working on your body image or weight might serve you better right now.
Diet Culture Myth #5 – Raw Foods
My boyfriend tells me that I should eat raw vegetables more often than cooked. He read that it is better for you. Is that true?– C.
I hear this frequently! You don’t have to eat only raw vegetables.
Raw vegetable intake has gained traction because some people believe that raw vegetables have more nutrients or enzymes.
To be honest, I am not sure how this got started. Because it’s not really true.
Let’s look at a carrot. It’s really fibrous, right. Your jaw gets tired of chewing more than one. Guess what? The nutrients are locked in those tough fibers.
Now, get ready. I’m about to talk about poop.
Have you looked at your poop after eating a raw carrot? What about after eating a cooked carrot?
Raw carrot poop will have visible chunks and bits of carrot in it. Do you know what that means? Your body was not able to break down all of those tough fibers. Nutrients were left behind.
Cooked carrot poop may be orange in color but you are less likely to see carrot chunks. That means your body was able to access far more carrot nutrients than with the raw carrot.
Ultimately, raw isn’t better. Raw vegetables are tasty additions to our daily vegetable intake. But, it doesn’t need to be all or even most of our vegetables.
Diet and Health Culture Rules
You can see from our weekly questions that diet and health culture really take advantage of our eating patterns. I hope that by debunking these diet culture myths you feel more comfortable expanding your eating.
Want to know more about diet culture in your everyday life? My blog post gives you 71 diet culture examples to watch out for.
Have a question that you want answered? Drop it in the comments.
Everyone can benefit from your questions. I can’t wait to hear from you!