By Carolyn Brown, MS, RD
Giving nutrition advice reminds me of playing the game Telephone. I say ‘cut back on soda’ and it gets relayed back to me as ‘carbonation causes cellulite’. In general, I will let you believe whatever you want if it will make you kick your soda addiction, but the bubbles are innocent here.
The carbonation myth didn’t come from a cheesy diet blog or a product-endorsing celebrity, it came from the mouth of one of my rational, intelligent best friends. And she wasn’t joking at all.
Nutrition myths are nothing new and we’ve all fallen for them. I’ll admit that after seeing the movie Sixteen Candles, my carrot intake skyrocketed in hopes of developing a reason to wear a bra. While I assume that we’re all a bit less gullible than our tween selves were, hoaxes are not always obvious, especially when they’ve been passed down through your family or when they show up on a well-designed website featuring flawless models. Rather than rehash the classic old wives’ tales, let’s talk about some “young unmarried” legends – the current nutrition myths in circulation:
1. __________ causes cellulite. I’ve heard it all, from carbonation and artificial sweeteners to alcohol and chocolate. Let’s put this to rest once and for all: while these foods might not diminish any dimples/lumps/bumps, they are not the source.
2. Greasy food soaks up alcohol. Ah, the classic “young unmarried” legend. Trust me, I’ve had my share of late-night pizza and cheese fries (they resulted in the freshman fifteen), and unfortunately, cheese fries don’t act as a sponge for alcohol. Greasiness won’t do a damn thing to reverse your drunkenness or stave off tomorrow’s hangover. Instead, eat before or while you consume alcohol to slow down absorption, drink water in between beverages, and go to bed.
3. Chocolate or greasy food causes acne or the occasional zit. It seems logical: oily food and candy leads to oily skin and breakouts. If only clear skin were so simple. Researchers are finding some food and skin connections, but processed carbohydrates and dairy seem to be bigger possible culprits than chocolate or grease. But that’s not to say you’re doing your skin any favors by choosing the oily potato chips. The nutrients from your food are the building blocks of your complexion, so eating a variety of veggies, healthy fats, good quality protein, and drinking lots of water does matter.
The internet is an amazing resource for health and nutrition information. But it can also be like playing Telephone in a foreign language after a few cocktails: you are left with total nonsense. What is the most ridiculous nutrition myth you’ve ever heard?