Four Food Lies Your Mother Told You


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Your mother had some pretty good ideas as she raised you from the wild heathen that you were: don’t run with scissors, play nice with others, always wear clean underwear. Yeah, she had a brain on her, that one I tell you.

You know, not everything she said was golden though.  Really, not even remotely.  Some of the silly most downright harmful ideas your mother had about health, food, and exercise have been proven dead wrong by medical science.

Of course, your mother wouldn’t tell you this. She and mothers everywhere have a reputation to protect, after all, of complete know-it-all-ness. For adults still wallowing in mommy’s not so right ideas, the consequences could be big, very big. This article will tell you the secrets that your mother was afraid to tell you.  This will set you on the straight and narrow to a brighter healthier future.

Debunking mom’s favorite health sayings may mean that a generation of moms will now have to suss out new admonishments for their children.

[spoiler title=”tl;dr – click to read summary” style=”fancy”] The  lies that your mom told you about food are: clean your plate; you must eat vegetable, protein and carbohydrate; eating sugar gives you diabetes; and you need to eat three times per day.  You need to stop eating when you are already full.  Your body needs different types of food depending on your health condition. Diabetes is not only caused by sugar but also by too much carbohydrates. [/spoiler]

Clean Your Plate

empty plateYeah, we know there are starving children in Africa/ China/ Chicago/ whatever. Your mom always told you to clean your plate because food was going to waste, which just struck  her as  . . . well, wrong.  She made the stuff, dammit, and you were going to eat it all, whether you like it or not.

Consequently, many of us carry this idea around in our heads.  If the plate has a full complement of meat, potatoes, and corn, we feel guilty for leaving a bit behind.

Why is this dangerous? Obesity. If you want to make yourself gain some weight, then cleaning your plate is a great strategy.  Otherwise, it will only mean more calories that you really don’t need, do you?

So, what’s the real deal?  This may shock you and it’s a little technical.  Eat until you are full and then stop.  It’s hard to take, but this is the surefire way to ensure that you eat exactly what your body needs.

Some people don’t have the ability to know when they are full, and that really does suck. You probably do, but you need to pay attention to the way you feel when you are eating. Don’t aim to win competitions for shoveling food down your throat.

Aim to feel satisfied, and then STOP.  It’s that simple – and, for some, as difficult – as that.  Pay attention to your body, not your plate, and you will go a long way toward controlling overeating.

You Must Eat Vegetable, Protein, and Carb

Your mother always say that a well-balanced plate should include vegetable, protein, and carbohydrate. This is usually reflected in what she makes for dinner.  This is the primary reason that steak, potatoes, and corn are often considered the American diet.

Bad news, Mom: corn is actually a starch. Yeah, look it up. I’m serious. May as well eat another potato if you’re going to eat corn.

While this method of eating may be okay for some people, it is by no means the only way to eat.  In fact, for some, eating this way can cause more problems than it helps.

When you are planning your meal, you need to think about yourself. Heart disease doesn’t really respond very well to the saturated fats in most red meat, so that’s definitely something you should nix.

Likewise, diabetics want to stay far away from carbohydrates – potatoes, corn, bread, dessert – or their blood sugar is going to spike.  You may want eat sweet, but there’s a limit.  For diabetics, eating more protein and veggies is better than including all three. It just isn’t necessary.  For heart patients, veggies and carbs may be doable, but you need to watch your fat intake.

Eating Sugar Gives You Diabetes

eating_sweetsSugar means sugar in the blood, right?  Well, not exactly. If you’re a raging diabetic, you probably should not sit down with a half-gallon of ice cream while watching Dancing with the Stars. That way lies madness – and, most probably, blindness.

Your mother made it seem that those who ate a lot of sugar throughout their lives ended up getting diabetes, and this is not true. It doesn’t help, but don’t beat yourself up thinking that you gave yourself diabetes because of your passionate love affair with Chunky Monkey. In fact, the origins of diabetes are much more obscure, and not really all that well known.

What causes diabetes?  Well, type I diabetes is caused by a faulty pancreas. You’re born this way, baby, and there’s nothing you can do about that.

Type II diabetes is a little different.  It is a result of insulin resistance.  Insulin lets sugar into the cells for them to feast on, and when insulin has to work overtime to deal with a ton of sugar, the cells get pissed off and refuse to react to insulin.  This means the cells starve and the level of sugar in the blood remains high.  That’ll show ‘em!

While eating sugary foods can contribute to diabetes by overworking the insulin system, it is by no means the only way.  All carbs – from potatoes to bread – break down into sugar. If you want to blame a specific food, blame them.  Otherwise, no one really knows all of the contributing factors to diabetes.

Bottom line: eat sugary foods in moderation if you are at risk for diabetes, but don’t forget to keep an eye on those other carbs.  You know the ones.  Yeah, with the shifty eyes.  Don’t turn your back on them, or you may wind up with diabetes.

You Need To Eat Three Times Per Day

Oh, mom, the stories you come up with!  The three times per day rule is really more cultural than anything based in scientific fact. Sometimes eating three meals per day works out, but most of the time, it doesn’t. That’s okay.

However, you should probably not eat less than three times per day. The drop in blood sugar when you don’t eat a lil’ sumthin’, sumthin’ may lead to binging when you’re finally starving.

Again, the idea behind mom’s hard and fast rule is pretty sound, but in practice, it doesn’t quite hold water. You need to eat at various times throughout the day, but you don’t have to have a breakfast, lunch, and dinner, per se.

What do you need then?  How about this: eat when you are hungry. I know. Mind. Blown. The whole purpose of eating is not to let yourself get too hungry, because that’s when bad choices are made.

Incidentally, this is why breakfast is so important. You’re blood sugar is as low as it is going to get when you wake up in the morning. If you don’t give yourself a little blast of energy, you’re going to feel tired, hungry, and cranky around one or two in the afternoon. If you eat breakfast, eat a snack, and then eat lunch and you will avoid blood sugar peaks and valleys and then you can control your ravenous eating.

Let’s face it, when we are hungry, we eat the worst things for us. So, the take away from this is that you should eat several small meals per day, usually three large meals and two snacks. This will keep the blood sugar steady, give you sustained energy throughout the day, and keep you from ripping the heads off anyone who comes near. The idea of three squares per day, though? Sorry, mom, but you got it wrong one more time.