12 Apr Diet Myths: Empowering women to approach diet and wellness from a holistic perspective
As a holistic wellness expert, I can help you address many of the myths you’ve likely come across. Whether it’s health, diet and fitness related. Or simply wanting to approach your health, happiness and wellbeing on a holistic level, creating a mind and body connection. Let’s debunk some of the overwhelming and confusing information you may encounter.
Very common in many mainstream gyms and health centres, are the same diets are being recommended to both young, middle-aged and mature women. These do not account for hormonal changes, as well as physical, mental and emotional health, which need to be approached very differently.
Most diets you’ll come across fail to address the mindset of the person trying to achieve their goals. It is essential to understand the reasons for wanting to lose weight and whether it comes from a place of health or unhealthiness.
If it is from an unhealthy place, it is unlikely to work in the long term. Quite often this can show up through negative self talk. As well as using exercise and diet as a form of punishment as opposed to improving overall health and wellbeing. This is not ideal when trying to create positive changes in all areas.
Whole body and mind wellness
In Ayurvedic medicine the teachings assure there is a deep connection between body and mind. With this insight, looking at thoughts and emotions,would be a very good place to start in order to create and maintain a healthy body whilst reducing excess body fat.
Many people don’t consider fat cells to be a build up of excess toxins. Our body stores these toxins in our cells to prevent our vital organs being flooded with these toxins.
As well as that which we have consumed, such as a high sugar, processed, chemically toxic diet. Or simply from our environment such as the air we breath and the chemicals in our water, negative toxins build up in our bodies too via our thoughts and emotions.
You may have heard that storing unresolved emotions leads to accumulating fat. The reason for this is when we experience excess stress or anxiety our body produces cortisol. A hormone that is excreted from our nervous system creating fight or flight response. This can lead to weight gain, stored abdominal fat and switches off our ability to heal and repair.
The depths to be discussed on hormones as women age will be better addressed in a separate article. To briefly input the importance of balancing hormones would be higher than ever to prevent stress, anxiety and sleep issues. Plus many more associations when moving through different stages of life.
Another reason for excess levels of cortisol to be drip fed through the body. Prioritising self care and less is more approach is essential for optimum results.
To make real, positive changes to our bodies and minds, we need a whole body and mind wellness approach. Here are some common diet myths, and simple things you can do to make consistent and positive changes:
Diet Myth 1: Eat what you like in moderation and lose weight
This myth is dangerous because it encourages us to continue consuming refined sugars and processed, chemically-ridden foods whilst just cutting down on quantity.
Instead, our diet should be a lifestyle change, not a quick fix. While it’s okay to indulge occasionally, we need to focus on nutrient-rich whole foods that are supportive to our health.
Diet Myths 2: As long as you’re in a calorie deficit, you’ll lose weight
This myth ignores our body’s innate intelligence. Our bodies are designed to store fat when we’re deprived of food for extended periods of time. Years of yo-yo dieting can slow down metabolic rate and put body into survival mode, causing it to hold onto calories rather than burning them for energy.
If you have spent years trying different fad diets, losing weight, and then gaining it back you will realise how untrue this theory is and look for a healthier longer term approach.
Diet and Fitness myth 3: Don’t do cardio, do weights!
To change body shape and reduce bodyfat, a common misconception is that you should weight train and avoid cardio. Both weight training and cardio have their place, and the combination of both is the sweet spot.
Regular bursts of cardiovascular exercise not only raises metabolism but helps to release toxins from the body. It is also a great way to increase endorphins and release stress.
Weight training breaks down muscle fibres, during recovery metabolism increases as it’s repairing and building the muscles back stronger.
Doing an excessive amount of cardio not only burns bodyfat but muscle too. This is where the idea of no cardio myth comes from. Realistically as we look from a whole body and mind wellness standpoint, balance here is the key.
Cardio, weighted or bodyweight training combined using intervals and HIIT are a great way to tick all the boxes!
Finally an excessive amount of cardio or weight training will lead to the release of cortisol. A stress hormone which as I explained earlier, prevents muscle growth, fat loss and suppresses the body’s ability to heal and repair.
Diet Myths 4: Lose weight with a low fat diet
While fat is higher in calories per gram, low-fat diets can contain a lot of sugar, making them ineffective for weight loss.
I always like to give the example of Muller Light yoghurts here, which used to be 1 point on a weight watchers diet. Each small pot contained almost 16 grams of sugar!
(Sugar rather than fat is identified as the first primary source of weight gain which in turn leads to obesity, diabetes and stress on the heart).
It is important to understand macronutrients and how they each play different roles for the body. Complex carbohydrates, such as starchy carbs like oats, brown and whole-grain rice, potatoes, vegetables, and fruits, are the first source of fuel for the body.
Unless you have taught your body to metabolically switch with ease, which is the process of using fat rather than carbohydrates as the main source of fuel.
Diet Myths 5: You should avoid all fats to lose weight
Not all fats are equal and dietary fat is an essential nutrient that the body needs to function properly.
Consuming too much saturated and trans fats is harmful to your health. Raising cholesterol, blood pressure, clogging arteries, leading to heart disease, stroke and some cancers.
Healthy fats play an important role in a healthy diet as well as helping you reduce body fat and curb cravings. (Such as those found in oily fish, avocados, nuts and seeds). Healthy fats are good for hair, skin and nails as well as assisting to help clear clogged arteries, therefore reversing some of the damaging effects of harmful fats.
Diet Myths 6: A calorie is a calorie
Not all fuel is equal and neither are calories. Now we have discussed the above, most likely you can see the way to achieve optimum health is not through counting calories.
For example a salmon fillet full of essential fats and protein is going to create a very different effect in the body than consuming the same calories in cake, biscuits etc, which are full of sugar, fats and harmful chemicals.
In conclusion, by adopting a holistic approach and avoiding common diet myths, you can make positive changes in your life and overall well being. your body will also that you for it in the way it both looks and feels.
It’s important to understand that our body’s innate intelligence goes beyond what most people can comprehend, designed to work optimally when we understand the deep mind body connection and nourish it as a whole system.
Of course this article could go on forever as we have only scraped the surface of these topics and myths.
If you would like to work with me personally, I do offer bespoke coaching which I would be more than happy to discuss with you.
Until next time, remember that a healthy lifestyle is a journey, not a 30-day fix, little actions each day will yield the most positive and long term results to your health, happiness and wellbeing.
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