The world of food is steeped in myths and superstitions, handed down through generations under the disguise of culture, tradition and belief. These tales, often fed to us woven into the fabric of cultural practices, can (actually, still continue to) shape how we approach our diets and eating habits. While some of these notions hold grains of truth, others have been debunked by modern science, revealing a stark contrast between perception and reality.
Unravelling these mythical mysteries is not merely an exercise in dispelling falsehoods, but a journey toward fostering a more informed, balanced and healthy relationship with sustenance that nourishes our bodies and minds.
#1 Fruit juice is as healthy (if not healthier) than whole fruit To explain it simply, let me put it this way: fruit juice is that superhero who’s always in costume but without any superpowers. Whole fruits are essentially packed with natural fibre, anti-oxidants and a host of vitamins and minerals. And once the fruit is subjected to a juicer, it's easy for all of this to get lost in the pulp that we discard, not to mention the added sugars if you opt for store-bought brands. So if you are looking for all the benefits of a fruit, just eat the fruit.
#2 Cooking vegetables in a pressure cooker causes it to lose its nutrients It’s a known misconception that prolonged cooking or tossing the veggies in a pressure cooker can devoid the produce of its nutrients. While this myth holds a certain amount of truth, this is actually not the case. Yes, prolonged cooking can result in less nourished food, but employing devices like a pressure cooker that aids in quick cooking. This means, you are using less water and cooking in even less time, locking in all the nutrients right there. Sure there is a loss of some protein, but this amount is barely significant.
#3 Skipping meals helps in weight loss When you skip a meal, your body doesn't just calmly wait for the next one. It instead goes into a bit of a frenzy. When you don't eat for a while your metabolism starts to slow down, trying to conserve fuel till the next meal. And when you finally do eat after skipping a meal, your body tends to store more of those calories as fat. Plus, you might find yourself giving into your cravings and devouring everything in sight because your body is shouting, "we need to stock up NOW!" Instead feed your body with balanced meals to ensure a healthy metabolism rate as this will prove to be more beneficial in the long term.
#4 You should drink 8 glasses of water everyday First things first, our hydration needs aren't a one-size-fits-all concept. The ideal amount of water consumed varies depending on factors like age, activity level and even the weather. When it comes to ‘what's the ideal amount of water one needs to consume in a day’, it is imperative that we understand that we don’t drink water to unlock a new highscore. Instead we do so to quench our body's thirst and keep things running smoothly. Plus, remember that not all your hydration comes from water. Fruits, veggies and other beverages count too. Drinking too much water in one go might actually disrupt your body's balance, diluting the salts and minerals in your body and in turn messing with your electrolyte balance. So, rather than fixating on a set number of glasses, let's embrace a more intuitive approach. Listen to your body's thirst cues, drink when you're thirsty, and sip mindfully throughout the day. After all, your body knows the hydration rhythm that suits you best.
#5 Fresh produce is healthier than frozen And finally, time to thaw out this frosty myth. While the fresh vs. frozen debate has been an ongoing discussion, the fact that which one is healthy simply depends on one fact: how long after the harvest are you consuming it. Fresh produce is packed with nutrients when it's just plucked. But more often than not, what we deem to be fresh has actually spent a considerable time in store houses before they reach our plate. In this time, the produce tends to lose its nutritional value owing to climate, travel, geographical location and many other factors. Frozen food on the other hand is produce that has been harvested and frozen immediately, freezing not only the consumable but also its nutrients then and there. So, next time you're cruising through the frozen aisle, know that you're not settling for second best. You're grabbing a bag of nutrient-packed, time-travelling veggies that are here to save your meals and your health.
I hope armed with this knowledge, you can now make better eating and dietary choices. After all food is sustenance and it defeats its purpose if we let our beliefs trump our needs.
Natasha Kittur is an aspiring writer. Her love for anything with cheese and spice is profound, but a white sauce pasta always tops her list. In her free time you will catch her reading or watching crime books and shows or go on and on about psychological experiments and theories. She aims to write a book in the fictional genre someday.