The diet industry is a $20 Billion a year industry. As such, there is a lot of money to be made by convincing people of certain "facts" about food that may or may not be factual. Most fad diets consist of convincing people that certain foods are the root cause of all their ailments ranging from weight gain or an inability to lose weight to a lack of energy. $20 Billion a year tends to buy a lot of advertising and as a result, a significant amount of misinformation and disinformation is spread every year. Here are 5 of the biggest food lies
1. Fat makes you fat
It seems that every decade brings with it a new kind of food to fear. For years, anxious dieters struggled to eliminate and eradicate every ounce of fat from their diet - to their detriment, it turns out. In fact, beneficial fats like those found in olive oil, coconut oil and a wide variety of nuts are a critical part of a healthy, balanced diet. While there are certainly a number of fats to be avoided, such as the trans-fats found in most partially hydrogenated cooking oils, healthy fats should be included as a necessary part of a balanced diet.
2. Eating a gluten-free diet is healthier
Just a decade ago, only a very few people suffered from a condition known as celiac disease, which is a serious gluten intolerance. While there may be many more individuals that have a stronger sensitivity to gluten while not suffering from full-on celiac's disease, the reality is that a gluten-free diet is not necessary for the majority of Americans. Unfortunately, an entire industry has sprung up around this notion that eating a gluten-free diet is healthier. Even more unfortunately, gluten-free products often use a number of even unhealthier alternative ingredients to wheat, which means a gluten-free diet may actually be even less healthy for you than one that includes gluten.
3. All additives and preservatives are bad
Almost all commercial foods, including organic foods, use additives and preservatives of some kind. While there are certainly more healthy and less healthy options, many food manufacturers use natural ingredients to preserve foods and give them a longer shelf life. Chemicals such as sulfites and nitrites have been linked to cancer and an increase in asthma symptoms, but a wide range of natural preservatives such as ascorbic acid (Vitamin C) and carrageenan are generally recognized as being perfectly safe alternatives.
4. Labels never lie
While food labeling standards have gotten more stringent in the last decade, there are still a great number of ways food information can at the very least be highly misleading. One of the ways in which they do this is to list serving sizes as being significantly smaller than what a normal portion size would be. For instance, a small bag of chips may be labeled on the front as only having 100 calories, while a closer look at the back will show that the bag is considered to be 2.5 servings. Always read label information carefully when determining calorie counts and portion sizes.
5. All "healthy" foods are good for you
There are a wide range of foods that are considered "healthy" that are actually laden with sugar, fat and a number of unhealthy ingredients. Breakfast cereals and protein bars, for instance, can be laden with sugar, artificial sweeteners and even trans-fats. Whenever possible, your best option is to skip the pre-packaged foods altogether and settle for a good old fashioned apple, orange or banana and a handful of nuts.
When it comes to food, the best rule of thumb is that the closer it is to its natural state, the better it is going to be for you. While there is much discussion and debate over the differences between organically and commercially grown foods, in the end an apple - whether commercially or organically grown - is going to be better for you than a cereal bar with apple filling. Try to opt for whole, raw or real foods whenever possible and you will most likely be headed down the right path.