(1) Scam. Let’s face it, nutritional marketing is deceptive. When you walk down the aisles of your local grocery store and read food labels, you see phrases such as “fat-free,” “sugar-free,” “milk; it does a body good” and “low cholesterol.” Do any of these claims actually mean these foods are better for you than others? Not really. Each phrase is a marketing tool to get you to buy the product. Is sugar bad for you? How about fat? Do carbs make you fat? One study says yes; another says no. So, which do you listen to? Everything is influenced by trends and money. All-wheat bread is nutritionally better for you than white bread, right? Wrong. Neither one is inherently better than the other. You have to educate yourself about the specific ingredients.
(2) Milk. “Milk does a body good!”—at least that is what the dairy industry wants you to think. The U.S. Department of Agriculture tells us that adults should drink three cups of milk a day, mostly for the calcium and vitamin D; however, multiple studies show there is no association between drinking more milk and having stronger bones. Healthier sources of calcium include green leafy vegetables, beans and fortified juices.
(3) Gluten-free. Gluten-free products are great for those with gluten intolerances, which accounts for 1 percent of the population. For everyone else, though, there’s no advantage to buying them. Gluten-free products don’t help you lose weight and are not necessarily good for you. They often have more fat, sugar or sodium to improve the product’s flavor.
(4) Fat-free. For most people, the word “fat” has a negative connotation. It all started in the 1960s when the sugar industry funded research to downplay the health risks of sugar and blame it all on fat. If you look closely at fat-free versions of a product and the regular versions, they have about the same amount of calories. The catch is that fat-free versions have extra sugars and chemicals to make them taste better. If all these fat-free and low-fat options are so healthy, why are obesity, diabetes and heart disease at record highs?
(5) Cholesterol. Cholesterol is another word like “fat” that gets a bad rap. It’s misleading to call cholesterol an evil, artery-clogging fat, because cholesterol performs a lot of important functions. Stop throwing those egg yolks in the trash because of their cholesterol. They are the most nutritious part of the egg. Cholesterol helps produce hormones, cell membranes and vitamin D, and aids in digestion. And guess what? Most of the cholesterol in your bloodstream is created by your body, not your diet.
(6) Sugar. There are over 61 names on food labels that are all considered sugar. It is confusing. It makes it difficult for people to understand what they are ingesting. Sugar delivers calories, not nutrients. A high-sugar diet contributes to obesity more than a diet high in fat. You need sugar, but eating complex carbohydrates instead of simple sugars is the healthiest way to give your body what it needs.
(7) Food pyramid. The first food pyramid was introduced in 1992, but that wasn’t the first time the government has tried to tell people what to eat. Since the early 20th century, the government has tried to guide our food choices. There are some well-meaning people trying to set nutritional guidelines, but there are always hidden forces at play as well. For example, the meat industry isn’t happy any time the recommended serving size of meat goes down. So, over the years, the food pyramid we remember as kids has changed and is now totally disregarded in favor of what is called “My Plate.” My Plate was a policy unveiled by Michelle Obama. The question you should ask yourself is, why are the recommendations always changing? Is it in your best interest or the interest of the food companies?
(8) Food industry. The food industry, just like every other industry, tries to make money, so it lobbies the government and funds studies to try to influence the government’s recommendations. Your best bet is to ignore fads and catchy slogans and search out real food. When it comes to packaged food, choose products with minimal ingredients. With all food, try to eat it in its most natural form.
(9) Water. Are you spending more per gallon on drinking water than at the pump? Maybe Dr. Michael Burry was right. Who was he? He was the guy from the movie the “The Big Short.” After making millions during the housing market crash he took his money and invested it in water. Did you know that most bottled water comes from the same tap water that your municipality provides you. It is just a filtered version of city water. It’s true that there are some bottled waters that come from sparkling springs and other pristine islands, but read the label. Better yet, buy a quality filter and make your own bottled water straight from the tap.
(10) Tryptophan. If you’ve heard of tryptophan, you’ve probably linked it to turkeys. But, have you really gotten sleepy from eating too much turkey? Did you know that many other foods, such as cheddar cheese, have the amino-acid tryptophan in them. Bet you’ve never linked other foods to getting tired. Food is fuel for your body, and just like your motocross engine, it can’t run on the wrong kind of fuel, neither can your body.