The worst health advice on the internet
From lemon water to keto.
With all the pseudoscience and wacky nutrition nonsense, it’s hard to know what to eat anymore.
More information isn’t always a good thing.
Especially in the internet era where every Instagrammer with an interest in avocados feels comfortable handing out health advice (even when it’s completely wrong).
As a dietitian and nutritionist, I come across bad health advice all the time.
Here are some of the worst health myths debunked – along with some important things I’d love you to know:
1. Your body does not need help to regulate its pH.
Your lungs, brain and kidneys work together to keep your pH perfectly balanced. Your body is fully capable of doing managing it’s pH – otherwise, you’d be dead.
Even a very slight change in your body’s pH will land you in hospital. Spend less time worrying about the pH of foods and more time cooking healthy foods you actually enjoy eating.
2. Lemon water doesn’t detox your body.
It does corrode your teeth. That’s because of the citric acid in lemons. Ask your dentist.
Plus, There’s no evidence to support drinking lemon water is detoxing. Keep in mind that drinks like kombucha and sparkling water can damage teeth enamel, too. Skip fancy wellness drinks and choose plain water. It’s very cheap.
3. You don’t need to avoid gluten unless you’re allergic or intolerant.
Most gluten-free food is less healthy, something the wellness world often forget to mention.
Unpleasant gut symptoms like bloating, excessive gas diarrhoea and constipation can also be caused by stress and anxiety… So there’s a good chance that what some people assume to be gluten sensitivity, is really just stress and anxiety caused by fearing gluten. Oh, the irony.
Before cutting out gluten, speak to a dietitian. Sometimes it’s the food you eat with gluten-containing foods that can be the real culprit. E.g. Onion or garlic in a stir-fry.
Read more: Is a gluten-free diet healthier?
4. Carbs aren’t fattening.
Instead of cutting out carbs, cut bad health advice from your diet and you’ll be a whole lot healthier. Eat legumes, whole grains and fruit. Enjoy them, guilt-free. Life is better without deprivation.
Cutting out foods may also be one of the reasons you don’t feel satisfied after eating.
5. Fruit is not fattening.
There are no bad fruits. Enjoy all fruits, regardless of their sugar content. Enjoy 1-2 a day.
Not sure what to snack on? Fruit can be your go-to. Fruit is ideal when you have a sweet craving. Deprive yourself of basic things like fruit, and you may find you overeat on things like sweets.
Anyone who tells you to cut out fruit talks nonsense and didn’t complete a credible nutrition degree. 🍋🍇🍍🍑 Want to understand why fruit isn’t fattening? Read this.
6. All exercise is good for you.
The healthiest exercise is the type you enjoy because then it’s easier to be consistent. And I always say that 20 minutes of exercise you enjoy is better than an hour at the gym you never end up doing.
Anything you do consistently over time will add up to something meaningful. Ditch the all-or-nothing thinking and embrace enjoyable movement – even if it’s stretching.
7. You don’t need to cleanse your body.
Save the $300 you’d spend on a detox and do a cooking class instead. This is a much better investment. Your body doesn’t periodically need a cleanse. Your gut doesn’t need a ‘rest’.
The best way to ‘detox’ is to increase your fibre intake. Add in oats, seeds and nuts, legumes, 5+ serves of veggies a day and drink water. Way more fun than laxative teas that make you shit yourself or expensive juice diets.
Read more: How to cleanse and detox your body
8. Chances are, you don’t need to eat more protein.
Powdered protein is not real food, no matter what whole food it’s originally made from. They make your farts seriously smelly and it’s expensive. Here are my thoughts on protein powders and similar foods.
9. There are no ‘fat-burning’ foods.
Don’t eat foods based on whether they ‘burn fat’. Eat foods that give you the energy you need to consistently move your body with enjoyment, cook at home and feel happy. Swapping ‘fat-burning foods’ or ‘long-lasting energy foods’ like whole grains, fruit, vegetables and legumes will be way more effective…
10. You don’t need to look good in a crop top or shorts to be healthy.
We have a ‘healthy’ body ideal that is incredibly unhealthy for most people to maintain, requiring obsessive exercise and disordered eating.
It may well be the reason you find it so hard to maintain your ‘perfect diet’ or ‘perfect weight’. There’s nothing wrong with your body – but lots that’s wrong with our warped beauty/health standards.
Not all people who diet will get an eating disorder but almost everyone who gets an eating disorder starts with a diet. You’ve spent your life trying to lose weight. What would happen if you swapped weight loss goals for real health goals?
Read more: The best way to lose weight
11. The Keto diet is the just Atkins diet that has been sold to you again.
Every few years, a new diet becomes the current obsession. Keto is having it’s moment but before then it was the Atkins diet, South Beach, Cabbage diet, Body type diet etc.
Save your money, time and energy.
12. Netflix is not a reliable source of nutrition information.
Every day I’m amazed by how highly intelligent people believe silly things because they watched a biased ‘documentary’.
Note; It’s only a documentary if both sides of the story are told. Otherwise, it’s just marketing or propaganda – thanks to cherry-picked science. The parts you aren’t told are just as important for you to know.
13. Celery Juice is expensive pee.
Celery juice is a gimmick. It’s a fad. If you love the taste – go for it. But please know that there is no evidence to say that it’s going to heal you. If you ask a university-qualified nutrition professional, they probably think it’s a waste of money.
13. Only do intermittent fasting if you’re happy to fast periodically… for the rest of your life.
Intermittent fasting has somehow made skipping meals socially acceptable.
Intermittent fasting is the same as all diets.
The benefits will only last as long as you can keep up with the diet.
Chances are that eventually, you’ll realise that you don’t really want to starve yourself twice a week or pee on a stick to be healthy. (maybe you do, but I don’t).
And when you stop eating like that, you will probably regain more weight than you lost. This is called ‘weight cycling’ and it’s not good for you. In fact, it’s worse than just being a heavier, stable weight.
Here’s the reality: If you can’t live on that diet for the rest of your life, then any health benefits will be temporary.
So – Is Intermittent fasting a diet? That depends. Can you live for years and years periodically fasting? If you can, then it’s a lifestyle. If you can’t, it’s another diet.
I get it. Diets are SO tempting (especially when a close friend loses loads of weight on one).
Diet companies spend BIG $$$ to sell you the same crap you’ve already tried – and failed.
If you find it hard to stick to a diet, know there’s nothing wrong with you (or your willpower). It’s the diets fault, not you.
This is the year to ditch crappy wellness advice. You’ll be a lot healthier for it.
More no-nonsense blog posts you might love:
- Why am I still hungry after eating?
- Can’t lose the last few pounds? Read this.
- How to become a dietitian or nutritionist – My career journey and advice
- 3 foods a nutritionist never eats