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10 Common Diet & Health Myths


1. Myth: anything labeled “diet” must be healthy. “Diet” or “lite” foods, drinks and dressings may have less calories, and in many cases less sodium or carbs, but they’re full of artificial ingredients and chemicals; all those toxins build up in the body. If you’re really looking to lighten up, look instead for labels like “fat free” or “reduced fat” or “reduced sugar/sodium”.

2. Myth: anything organic or all natural must be healthy. Sure, organic foods don’t have the artificial growth hormones or dyes that many non-organic foods contain, but when you think about it, organic cheese is just fattening and artery clogging as non-organic cheese. 

3. Myth: “teatox” diets are effective. This one’s partially true. Celebrities and social media stars promote so-called teatoxes because they remove toxins (duh!) from the body and aid in the weight-loss process. But, these diets promote rapid, short-term weight loss that is intended for a specific date or event, like a wedding (or, in the celebs’ cases, an award show). Stick to a more substantial diet for long-term results.

4. Myth: fats are bad. Too many fats (especially the kinds in red meat and junk foods) can clog arteries and cause weight gain, but snacking on avocados or trail mix is a great alternative to fueling-up on carbs, and can be really beneficial. Healthy fats promote brain function, as well as shiny hair, nail growth and soft skin. Not to mention, fats are what give you that satisfied, full feeling. 


5. Myth: milk is healthy and contains necessary nutrients. Milk was once believed to be the cornerstone of a healthy diet in the U.S., but recent research proves it is just the opposite. Milk contains relatively small amounts of essential nutrients like calcium, and it is known to cause acne, increase the risks for bone fracture and type-1 diabetes and exacerbate already-existing asthma and eczema. Green veggies (think: broccoli and spinach) are safer sources of calcium and vitamin d.

6. Myth: mono dieting is safe. Trendy? Yes. Safe? Not even close. Mono dieting involves eating only one food for the duration of the diet. While it may sound like a good idea, consuming a variety of fresh fruits and lean proteins is much more effective—and healthy—than noshing on chocolate all day long. 


7. Myth: being a vegetarian/vegan is healthy. When done right, yes, vegetarian and vegan diets are arguably some of the healthiest options out there. Animal products contain fats and cholesterols that can be really detrimental to the human body, and staying away from them—even just cutting back on them—provides innumerable health benefits. But, vegetarians and vegans who frequently consume carb-dense foods in place of low-carb meat and fish may struggle with weight management and lack of energy.

8. Myth: yo-yo dieting is O.K. Yo-yo dieting is weight loss, followed by weight gain, followed by weight loss, followed by weight gain—and it’s an easy habit to fall into. While it is ok to indulge once in a while, repeated weight loss and weight gain can have long-term negative effects on your metabolism.

9. Myth: losing weight will make you happier overall. Accomplishing a goal, like getting in better shape, is exciting and rewarding beyond measure. But when your happiness is fully dependent on your outward appearance, you will never be completely satisfied. There is more to health, dieting and, of course, life than the way you look. Happiness always comes from within.

10. Myth: diets are one-size-fits-all. This is perhaps the most common misunderstanding when it comes to health and dieting. We are all unique human beings with different dietary and caloric needs, but when you hear that your friend or fav celeb had success on a certain diet, it can be difficult to accept that it may not give you the same results. The trick is to try a handful of different foods and eating styles to find the combination or formula that works best for you.


If you or a friend is struggling with an eating disorder, contact the WVU Carruth Center at (304) 293-9355, or by e-mailing wvucccps@mail.wvu.edu


Madalyn is a journalism graduate student at West Virginia University. In 2016 she graduated with a B.S. in journalism from WVU. She also completed a minor in Spanish language, literature and linguistics. When she is not studying or working, Madalyn enjoys reading, exercising (especially running, hiking and cycling), playing with her dogs, art and fashion. 
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