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Busting Nutrition Myths

Episode 40 of the Fuel the Fire Podcast hosted by Shanon Safi, RD, LDN.

Embark on a transformative journey to reclaim your well-being as I, Shanon Safi, dismantle the destructive forces of diet culture on the Fuel the Fire podcast. Prepare to unlearn the harmful narratives that have overshadowed your personal health endeavors and discover the power of setting small, manageable goals. Through my lens as a seasoned dietitian and dynamic public speaker, we'll navigate the murky waters of nutritional misinformation, fostering a newfound appreciation for our bodies and the sustenance they crave. It's time to forge an empowering path that celebrates the joy of eating and the strength of our healthful intentions.

This heart-to-heart episode is brimming with practical wisdom, from debunking the misleading allure of fat burners and detox fads to lifting the veil on common health myths. With each chapter, we'll unravel the emotional threads that tie us to our food and fitness beliefs, charting a course towards a life where the scale doesn't tip our self-worth and exercise is a celebration, not a chore. By challenging the fallacies that lifting weights bulks you up or that certain diets hold the key to ultimate health, we're crafting a balanced narrative around nutrition and exercise—one that's grounded in pleasure, not punishment. Join me on this enlightening exploration, and let's feed the fire of a truly wholesome lifestyle together.

Episode Transcript:

And so when we start to analyze that piece of it, you find that your relationship with both gets healthier and they're not controlling you. But if we ignore the emotional experience around those, that's where we start to feel stuck and that's where we start to fall back in default to punishing ourselves for our choices. Hello, hello, welcome to the Fuel the Fire podcast with your host, Shanon Safi.

Today I'm excited to get into some nutrition related things and chat with you. So you guys know I am a dietitian and nutrition is really my roots. I love to talk about the mental journey of this, because it is the most important piece of any nutrition journey and any journey that you go on with your body and your wellness and food. So just having a good idea of what's true, what to think about, what to throw out the window, is super helpful, because online there is just so much information that we're bombarded with all the time and it can be really difficult to sift through that, especially when it's not something that you've studied. And even when you have studied it, we are taught a lot of information that can be a little misleading or if it's taken out of context or if it's delivered in a certain way, it can actually do a lot of harm with people's relationship to their body and food. So with this, I am sharing with you one of my most popular talks to outside of my podcast. I also do public speaking, so speaking to groups and agencies and businesses, doing lunch and learns, or just presentations and workshops. I love to do this because I really love sharing this information. It's so important and each and every one of us will go through a journey with our body and food. So to really give the time to it and to make sure that you're getting your information from a source that you trust can really change the trajectory of where you go. So here I am, sharing with you some of the best information out there around nutrition and body image.

So let's get into it. The first tip that I have on here is to reject diet culture and really mentally commit to the journey that you're on. So diet culture it's such a broad concept, but what it really has to do it's all of the baloney that you see on the internet that's trying to get you to buy into the next program that's allegedly the solution to whatever you're fec-ing. So, for example, diet-cultury things could be like weight loss programs or counting calories or it can be like, oh, I'm gonna earn this doughnut from running a whole lot. Diet culture is so deeply woven into society and just everyday talk. People talk about this all the time, on a daily basis. So so many people. I just think about a lot of work spaces where it's like people are talking about what they're eating and the diet that they're doing, or something that they read online about it burning fat and things of that nature, and so it's really important to start by just getting away from it all and not engaging in that conversation. When you are working on a journey, and especially if you're working one-on-one with a professional, the best thing that you can do is just tune out everything else that other people are telling you and unfollow a lot of accounts that kind of make you feel bad about yourself ultimately. So a lot of times we just get stuck in that comparison mode when we're following these accounts that we initially follow to motivate us because, like A, we want to look like them. B, they're sharing these low calorie meals, and the list goes on and on for the reasons why we might follow some of these like diet culture accounts, but rejecting them, getting rid of them, unfollowing, not using the internet to give you your diet information, especially from people that are not credentialed. Just drop it. That's my best advice, and I definitely am going to do a whole episode on diet culture and get more into this because I think it's such a good topic, but we'll just brush over it today and get into it maybe in the next few episodes, potentially, alright.

So my next tip let go of setting big weekly goals. Start setting small goals, one meal at a time. So it's so important to stay rooted in the present moment as much as possible when you're trying to make these changes and really choose true health and a healthy relationship with nutrition and food. Really looking at it as one meal at a time will keep you from snowballing and also losing sight of what it actually means to enjoy the journey. So often we get really stuck in thinking about that big goal that we have and when something pulls us away from it or we have a little bit of a snafu, what will often happen is we completely throw away and get lost and are no longer connected to what we have to do in that moment. So when that happens, we almost want to just give up. So when we focused on the little goals and focusing on one little thing that we can do in this moment, it feels so much easier to get to your goal and, like I said, to also enjoy the process. If you're not enjoying what you're doing, it's going to feel impossible to continue to do it. So finding pleasure in the journey and being present will be one of the biggest keys to setting you free. The next one throw out the scale. Health is something that you feel. You don't need the scale to tell you how you're feeling. So I love to talk about this.

My most successful clients have been the ones that do not weigh themselves and really detach from that number. So some people like to say like knowing the number helps them feel comfortable. It helps them feel like they're in control. And while that makes perfect sense to our minds, at times when we are having an emotional experience or an emotional response whether that's good or bad to the scale, we are still giving our power to it. So if I'm weighing myself and I'm seeing something that I like and I'm having a happy reaction, I'm still having a reaction and I am allowing the scale to have emotional control over me. And when it's negative, of course that feels a lot harder to process and it makes us feel like there's something that we have to change. Your weight fluctuates every day. Your weight is going to go up and down, even if you followed the same exact pattern that you do day after day after day. We are human. We don't perfectly burn the same number of calories every day. We don't have the same physiological experience every day, and that is 100% normal. So if we are depending on the scale to tell us how we should feel about ourselves or if we're doing well, it's going to take us away from what the true goal is, and that is connecting to your body and learning to eat intuitively and trusting your body to be able to communicate to you. So it's the same way. If you're in a relationship and you are asking a person or you know say, maybe they had your location what can sometimes happen is we're obsessively checking that and we're always asking that person like where are you, what are you doing? And that can actually hurt the relationship because there's no trust there. So think of your body in the same way. If we're not leaning into trusting our bodies, we're never going to be able to eat intuitively and feel safe fully in our bodies. Our next tip there is no magic pill. Nothing beats proper nourishment. I have seen so many people try to use different things, like anywhere from using laxatives to fat burners, thinking that this pill will be the solution to what they're struggling with. The thing about it is there is no pill that will do this. There is nothing that's going to magically make you burn all of this fat. There's nothing that's going to magically make you undo calories or food that you have consumed. So really letting that go and again leaning into focusing on nourishing your body properly. Ultimately, the better you nourish your body with real food and you know things I like to call food that's good for your soul as well. Whatever that looks like, that's the best thing for you. Pills can't really undo anything and will typically cause more damage, because there are side effects to all of these pills that are out there and they can really mess with our bodies, our hydration levels, our electrolytes, and they can cause serious life-threatening issues. They are not worth messing around with because it's just a mental thought, like we just think that it will do a thing that it doesn't actually do in our bodies. So right, like using a laxative as an example, if we're overusing a laxative, it doesn't really equate to more rapid weight loss the way that people think it does. And with diet pills, where they're like fat burning pills, a lot of them just elevate your heart rate and have been shown to cause anxiety and heart problems in the long run. They are not safe to use and staying on them again can cause significant damage to your physical body and it can also cause a lot of mental health challenges, because increasing any sort of caffeine can really make it more challenging, especially when you're trying to relax into your body. Caffeine just gives you the jitters and it can increase anxiety and actually make you feel less safe in your own body. Alright, so my next tip here is less is not better. Think about adding instead of subtracting. So a lot of times, the first thing people think about when they're trying to start a health journey is that I need to eat less, and the matter of it is eating less isn't always the answer. When you start to think more in the mindset of what do I need to add to feel healthy, to feel properly nourished, it completely shifts the energy that you're approaching it with. When we're in the mindset of less, we feel more restricted. And when we feel more restricted we feel like we're missing out and psychologically that can really put us in a place of feeling more like we want to break the rules almost. So when we're feeling restricted, there's a lot more temptation and we feel restrained. And it's just like the same way, like anytime someone tells you not to do this or have less of this, your instinctual reaction is to feel like you need more to be okay. So if we're constantly in this mindset of like desperately needing more, we're never going to find peace in the moment. When we think about adding, we're more in an abundance mindset. So when we're thinking about what how can I receive more nourishment it puts us in this state where we can be more grateful and we can find more pleasure and we find ourselves being open to having a more positive experience because we're looking at it almost as a gift of receiving rather than a punishment of restriction. So where can I add in more fruits and vegetables? Where can I add in more pleasure foods? Where can I have these exciting experiences that I can really work on my relationship with food and look at it as something that I can truly enjoy? So, again, really focusing on adding instead of subtracting. I really love this one. The next. So a detox normally does more harm than good. These detox diets that I see can be, again, really damaging to the body and also misleading. The only detoxification that you need is a healthy liver. So if you have a healthy liver, and even if you have a fatty liver, your liver is doing great, amazing work for you to process everything that comes into your body. A lot of these detoxes that you see online are just things that cause you to potentially like a excrete more from your body, which isn't necessarily positive, because a lot of times it's fluid or it is just pushing out a bowel movement, and the diet protocol for it is often one of restriction. And again, going back to the last point, restriction isn't really putting us in a positive mindset. Usually, the weight that you would even lose from a detox typically is weight that you will gain back Once you start eating normally. So, again, restricting and trying to detox is not really helpful because it's not really doing what you think it's doing. Having a liquid diet of only vegetables that you juiced is just messing with your blood sugar and you'll probably feel yourself being super hungry all day and thinking about food exponentially more than you would be if you just ate normally. So the best detox is eating normal food and counting on your liver to do what it's supposed to do, which it likely is. Next, a balanced intake means not eliminating any one type of group of foods. So that's talking about carbs. That's dairy Again. This is back to the restriction point. A healthy, balanced diet includes carbs, fats, protein and dairy. I think there is so much negative talk around dairy, but I think it's I'm like a dairy advocate. I am team pro dairy. I think it can do wonders. It's an amazing source of calcium and vitamin D. It's really nourishing. There's so many fun ways to eat it and like dairy all day. Carbs same. Fats same. They're so demonized but truthfully, your body physiologically needs all of them. So enjoy them and really start to learn what proper mix of protein, carbs to fats feels good when you're taking it in. So just really understanding how to make a balanced meal will really help, and I've always had this happen where, when I talk to people about what a balanced diet looks like, it's always more food than they're used to. It surprises so many people how good they feel with actually intaking more food, because more food. A lot of times like we associate that almost like a fear, like if I'm overeating or if I'm taking in more food it will equal something negative happening to my body. But more food can be a really beautiful thing, especially when it's balanced, especially when it's nourishing. It can do so much good to your relationship with food and your physical body and your emotional body and so many other parts of you. Your whole being benefits from taking in a balanced intake of carbs, fats, protein and, yes, even dairy. All right, and that kind of ties into the next thing that I had written down around low carb and low fat diets. They are not optimal. We want a normal carb diet, a normal fat diet and a lot of those diet products that are like lower fat than the leading brand or a substitute for something else. Like man, there's like countless in my brain blanked for a second but like low carb tortillas or low fat dressings.

A lot of times these items are made that way, with a lot of substitutes and a lot of things that are not natural. We're putting in chemicals and things that are even more processed into our body that our body doesn't actually know what to do with. I always go for the real form of something, the whole carb, the whole fat form. I love whole fat dairy and, like my tortillas all of them are full on tortillas I use real pasta. I've really gotten away because again, I mean, I'm not going to lie I was. I definitely bought into diet culture more than I was aware of with all of the fun, cool things that are out there on the market. I was really looking at it as like an exploration and like a journey to be like oh, look at all the fun things that I can try. And eventually what happened with that was I realized that it just wasn't a substitute for the real thing and there are many other ways to add nourishment and add those items like, for example, lentil pasta. I'll use that one. Well, I think it's cool and there's nothing inherently wrong with using it. A lot of times we're using it because we think it's better than real pasta, and that was the whole concept it came out. It's like a diet food and, respectfully, lentil pasta is very unenjoyable in my personal and moderately professional opinion. It does not have the same texture, it is just I don't know. It's something else and I wouldn't recommend it. Just eat real lentils and just eat real pasta because you'll probably enjoy it more. And again, it's really in the family of diet culture foods. So go for the real thing always. And the next one the front face labeling on foods is not a health indicator. On the front of products, think of it more as marketing. Things are highlighted to make you want to buy the item, not necessarily for your health. The front of it can say things like organic, free range, grass fed, and a lot of these things are said to make you want to buy it, to make you think the value is inherently more than something else. And with some of this labeling it can be really misleading and not truthfully even what it's saying that it is. And I've talked about this a lot like, especially around organic. Organic is kind of a slippery slope A lot of times. When we see it we think it's better for us. But the rules around being able to call something organic are a lot looser than you would assume.

So with organic it's like on a percentage sliding scale. So certain organic stickers mean like oh, this one is 80% organic, this one means it's 90% organic and if you really kind of think about it, it's either organic or it's not right. I think that should be more of like a black and white thing. It shouldn't be like what percent organic is this? It is or it isn't. So, with that being said, I don't think it's super important to buy things that are organic versus not organic. I used to say, for things that you're eating with the skin on it, it was like if you were gonna splurge, those would be better to purchase organic because you're gonna have like less chemicals that you're directly eating when you're peeling the skin off. It really doesn't matter if it's organic or not, because even if there were pesticides on it, it doesn't penetrate the skin. But again, like if it's stressing you out to spend a lot of money on organic food, it's not super necessary because, again, like, we're getting exposed to it in little ways in different settings and it's just not worth the stress and we just have to trust our body to do what it needs to do, to take care of us and process out what it needs to. Like, still, at the end of the day, eating fruit is going to be very helpful for your life and your health and your wellness, and eating like balanced meals will always be better than just being afraid of all foods right. It's just not worth the stress. Like we can sit here and complain about it and say we wish we had cleaner products, or better this and better that. Like, do what you can when you can, but should it change the way you perceive the food? No, ultimately, again, front-faced labeling. These things are just marketing ploys and you need to understand that it's not always with your best interest in mind. And going back to what does balanced intake look like? That will always be the best thing, right. Next, exercise does not counteract what you intake. So I've heard it about a million times and I think I might even said it in the beginning of this episode. But the concept of like, oh I earned this donut or oh, I had some frozen yogurt, so I have to go work it off at the gym, that's not how science works in our bodies. You can't cancel out what you eat through movement and the reason I say that like I think having mindful movement in your week is beautiful. I think exercise can be really valuable physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, but it's not a punishment for eating. Really, getting away from feeling we have to punish ourselves or like repent for our sins of like eating certain things. That is not the way to treat movement. We should do movement because we enjoy it, because we love it, because it feels good to our body, not as torture, not as punishment. Really starting to disconnect our relationship with food with our relationship with exercise and viewing them separately. Like how can I have fun with exercise? Is one question, and like how can I have fun with nutrition is another question. It should never be. How can I use exercise to fix what I ate? Because, again, our bodies just don't work that way. Right, you're allowed to have the cake and you're also allowed to not go to the gym that day. Like it's okay, it's totally okay to do that, but it's more around, like how do I feel when I did go to the gym? How did I feel when I ate the cake? Did I have feelings of shame? Did I have difficult emotions that I needed to process? Did I feel like I was being punished? Did I feel like I was doing something wrong? These are the things that we need to look at, and so when we start to analyze that piece of it, you find that your relationship with both gets healthier and they're not controlling you. But if we ignore the emotional experience around those, that's where we start to feel stuck and that's where we start to fall back and default to punishing ourselves for our choices. The next one lifting weights does not make you bulky. I think I talked about this not too long ago around the math and don't quote me, I don't know if this is like 100% factual, but it's like moderately pretty factual-ish.

So there's only a certain number of pounds that you could really gain in muscle in the course of a year. When you go from like doing no weight training to weight training, I want to say it's somewhere around seven pounds a year that you could gain in the first year. Muscle Every year after that, as you continue movement, it gets harder and harder to build more muscle, so you actually physiologically can't build as much as you did naturally. And so, with that being said, this fear it's you have to be really intentional to build muscle, like you don't accidentally build muscle, and so, with knowing that, you can sort of let go of that fear that you're gonna get bulky from lifting. Where I think that came from was when people do exercise they might find that they're actually hungrier, so maybe you have the propensity to want to increase your intake because of that. But that is something that is natural. It is normal If you're doing more movement, you will likely desire to have your intake match that, unconsciously, like, your body is gonna ask for more food because you're expending more energy, and that's okay. But, again, the lifting weights you have to be very intentional with how you eat to build that massive amount of muscle that sometimes we fear is coming. And, yeah, it's just knowing that you're improving your metabolism through movement and that you're doing something. You should be doing something that is fun. And so, really focusing on movement and food separately again, and just remembering that your relationship with exercise is your relationship with exercise and it shouldn't be affected by your relationship with food, and those are two separate relationships that you get to have. And, of course, if you want to connect those two, do it through the assistance of a professional that can talk to you more about, like, sports, nutrition and what that looks like if that is a goal of yours. But, again, if you're just trying to be a normal, healthy individual, don't stress it. Don't stress it, just enjoy each individually and have fun with eating, have fun with the movement, live your life and don't worry about getting into a zone where you're quote unquote bulking up because of weightlifting. That's really not going to just accidentally happen to you, I promise. Okay, I have a few more here and I'm just going to tap on a couple of them. So the first one certain foods burn fat and speed up metabolism is an absolute myth. I like hate to hear it when I see it. Like I always see this, like lemon juice and cyan pepper If you drink it every morning, it's going to burn all of your belly fat. And like I've had so many people ask me these questions of light. Or like try these different concoctions that they saw on the internet that burn belly fat. And like just hard, no, hard, no, just, it's not true. No, don't do it, we're gonna leave it there. The next one white carbs have no nutritional value. So like we're talking white bread, white pasta, like they absolutely do Not all of your grains need to be whole grains. You can have a very healthy, balanced diet with white potatoes and white breads. Again, that is like diet culture. Like mix it up, have what you like. A lot of these products are also fortified with vitamins and minerals, so you're not missing out on much. You're going to get enough fiber from fruits and vegetables that you eat throughout your day and some whole grains, but they do not all need to be whole grain products. You can absolutely have amazing health while consuming white products like white potatoes, white breads, white pastas, white rice. Next, drink more water before meals to help you feel full or eat less. As we go on, it's like more and more I these like make me cringe, like hearing that is just it that one stinks. Number one drinking a lot of water before a meal actually dilutes your stomach acid, so it makes it a little bit harder for your body to digest and break things down. So you're better off not drinking lots of water before, right before your meal, and also not during the meal. Again, getting away from thinking that we always have to eat less, less is not the answer. And again, going back to that point before, think about adding instead of subtracting but in this case not adding excessive amounts of water before your meal to keep you from eating what you should be eating. You're just gonna get hungrier again sooner and you're slowing down the digestion process which again, overall it's not helpful. The next becoming vegan, vegetarian or gluten-free makes you healthier. Again, I just it's just not true. Being vegan, I'm gonna use that as an example. It's like actually harder to be healthy while being vegan, because and like no knock to anyone that is it's more that it just takes proper education to get everything that you need as a vegan.

So if you're just doing it for health purposes and just so that you can cut out large food groups and stay away from things that feel like they have a lot of calories, it's not beneficial for your health. A lot of times it can be really harmful if you're not properly educated on how to be a long-term vegan. If it just is cutting stuff out again, looking about or thinking more about adding instead of subtracting. And gluten I'm gonna touch on that one because gluten again has gotten demonized. Eat gluten. It's not the gluten. Gluten is not the villain, unless you have celiacs or gluten sensitivity or intolerance Different story but gluten is not the villain. Enjoy it. And then we have two more here. Calories eaten late at night automatically turn into fat is an absolute myth. Eat when you're hungry. I'm gonna leave it at that, because I've been talking for a while on this episode. I told myself it'd be a short one, but it's never a short one with me and I guess you should probably know from every other episode if you've listened before. I do my best. I really had a stint where I was trying to do short ones, but that's just not my style and I just have to own that, all right. And lastly this is a tip and list the help of others when you're on this journey. It is not easy. You have so much deconditioning you have to do in this day and age around nutrition and your relationship with your body in order to have a healthy, balanced one, and I wish society wasn't like that. I really wish it wasn't, but that's just kind of what we're faced with and this is just the reality of it. So having friends, having supportive family members and, of course, a trusted professional, really, really, really seriously helps, and it is the biggest game changer you can make. The same way, if you were learning any other skill, when you learn from a teacher, when you learn in person or with a person, I should say, because I think it's really valuable online as well it seriously helps. You get to ask questions, you get to talk through it, you get emotional support and all of that is so crucial in your journey. All right, so those are my fun tips. I didn't count them, I didn't number them, but it's two pages worth and I hope that you enjoyed it. I hope that you took something away from this that you didn't know before, and or it really helps bolster things that you've known or learned about, or maybe it just validated some thoughts that you were thinking and reassured you that you are on the right path with what you're doing. But if more come up, I love to bust some myths, so send me all the things that you're like. Is this true? Is it not slide into my DMs? I am open for it, I'm here for it.

Share all your thoughts and your feelings and your questions about this. Yeah, I'd love to hear your feedback and I really wanna hear more about, just like your experience with listening to this episode with other episodes, so that I can keep providing information that's supportive of your journey, because sometimes there's definitely things that I overlook because, yeah, I don't know I guess that's normal, just being a human things that I forget about, topics that I've thought about many times and then just haven't posted about. So share with me your thoughts. Share this episode with someone that could use it, get it out to the world, share it with there's definitely at least 10 people right now that I bet you could share this episode with that you know may need it. So I appreciate it, they'll appreciate it and you're making the world a better place. So thanks for listening to today's episode. Love you guys so much. Bye.



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