From pregnancy to male pattern baldness, there seems to be an old wives tale about everything. Many myths about food and nutrition hold a kernel of truth, but it’s best to be wary about old wives’ tale meanings. In this article, you’ll learn about five common food myths, the truth about nutrition, and facts about healthy eating.
Keep reading for clarity on common old wives' tales about food, including answers to questions like, “Carbs make you fat, true or false?” Let’s dive in!
Food Myth #1: Wait 30 Minutes After Eating Before You Go Swimming
This myth is commonly promoted by parents to protect their kids from an upset stomach during swim season. It has some truth if you are swimming competitively, since eating a large or heavy meal before swimming a race can cause you to go slower.
However, if you are a casual swimmer, your body has plenty of blood and oxygen to multitask. It can devote some resources to digestion while also providing the necessary energy you need to splash around.
Food Myth #2: Stay Away From Milk If You Are Prone to Kidney Stones
A common wives tale that has stuck around is the myth that avoiding milk helps you if you are prone to kidney stones. This is likely due to the fact that kidney stones are formed (in part) by calcium, which milk has high levels of.
In reality, eating proper amounts of milk and other dairy products can improve intestinal and digestive tract health. This can lead to fewer kidney stones in the long run.
Milk can also contribute to the intake of fluids, which is another key to reducing the likelihood of kidney stones forming.
Food Myth #3: Eating After Dinner Causes Weight Gain
Ever heard that eating after 9:00 p.m. is a no-no? It’s commonly thought that eating after dinner is the cause of unwanted weight gain. However, evening snacks aren’t always the culprit when it comes to putting on a few pounds.
In fact, after dinner eating can help you meet your nutritional needs and stay within your calorie limit. As long as your intake is nutrient-rich and you are responding to hunger and satiety (fullness) cues, there is nothing wrong with eating after dinner.
It is important to note that activities like mindless eating (i.e. while watching TV) or emotional eating can be linked to weight gain. That being said, a registered dietitian can help you identify these behaviors and get them under control. In other words, after dinner eating isn’t associated automatically with weight gain.
Food Myth #4: An Apple a Day Keeps the Doctor Away
Apples are incredibly nutrient-rich, full of nutrients like fiber, vitamin C, and potassium. While this fruit can be instrumental in helping lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, just focusing on one food for improved health can be dangerous.
Instead, a balanced, healthy diet with lots of different fruits and vegetables can help you meet your nutrient needs. Plus, your doctor is a vital part of your health care team. Instead of keeping the doctor away, involve him in your health and nutrition plan.
Food Myth #5: Carbs Cause Weight Gain
In the media, there always is a culprit for weight gain. It used to be fat, but in recent years it has been carbohydrates. For years, old wives' tales have been linking digestive distress and weight gain to carb consumption.
The truth is that carbohydrates are not as evil as they are made out to be. In the proper amounts in your diet, carb intake can help you maintain a healthy weight, promote heart health, and keep up intestinal health. Especially helpful are carbs that contain dietary fiber (look for whole grains on a nutrition label).
The Bottom Line On Old Wives’ Tales
Some old wives’ tales contain a bit of truth, while others are totally bogus. It’s important to learn the truth about nutrition so you can empower yourself against food myths.
Remember, a dietitian and dedicated health team can always help you to make sense of old wives' tales and find the truth about food.
Murphy A. From ‘an apple a day keeps the doctor away’ to ‘spinach makes you strong’: Dietitian reveals the truth behind the most well-known ‘Old Wives Tales’. Daily Mail. Published August 2018. https://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-6065557/Dietitian-reveals-truth-worlds-best-known-Old-Wives-Tales.html.
Santilli M. 15 Carb Myths That Are Totally Bogus. Eat This, Not That! Published June 2021. https://www.eatthis.com/carbohydrates-myths/.