Back to Nutrition: Breaking Down the Top 5 Myths About Food
Updated: Nov 3, 2022
Three things we dive into in this episode:
Debunk myths about carbs, restricting, bloating, emotional eating, and calorie counting
Why adding instead of subtracting something from your diet is more effective
How your body and mind are impacted by food deprivation
Release restrictive dieting, break free from body shame, & create habits that help you live fully! Sign up for Caitie’s nutrition coaching program and community, Whole, Full, and Alive, and get a FREE 20 Minute Discovery Call!
Listen to Episode 1: Wholeness: How to Feel Complete as You Are Now here!
Listen to Episode 2: Fullness: The Foundations for Becoming an Intuitive Eater here!
Listen to Episode 3: Aliveness: Creating Your Dream Life with Candace Taylor here!
Listen to Episode 4: Impactful Reframing: Body Image, Grief, and Self-Worth with Brianna Campos here!
Listen to Episode 5: Financial Wellness: Transforming Your Money Mindset with Meera Meyer here!
Listen to Episode 6: Intuition or Anxiety?: How To Tell Which Is Making the Decision here!
Listen to Episode 7: Boudoir: Healing Through Photography and More with Devin Archilla here!
Listen to Episode 8: Openness: Accepting Life As It Is, While Also Honoring Your Desires here!
Listen to Episode 9: Self-Compassion: Spiritual & Practical Practices for Being Kinder to Yourself with Kirat Randhawa here!
[05:52] The Foundations of Nutrition
The two primary themes in nutrition are feeling a sense of internal safety and a gentle, compassionate structure.
Listen to Episode 2: Fullness: The Foundations for Becoming an Intuitive Eater to learn more!
Caitie often hears the same questions from different people after she tells them she's a dietitian.
Five myths come up the most when people talk to her about nutrition.
[09:37] Nutrition Myth #1: Carbohydrates are Bad
Carbs are essential for efficient energy production, brain function, detoxification, controlled digestion, gut health, and controlling blood cholesterol levels.
The ketogenic diet causes inefficient energy production, impaired brain function, and bad digestion. It's only been proven scientifically effective for children with epilepsy.
Starchy carbs are the brain’s preferred source of energy for brain function.
Fad diets that restrict carbs appear to work well at the start because they make you lose water weight, but you regain water weight quickly.
Excessive restriction can lead to binge eating.
[16:56] Nutrition Myth #2: Restrict Your Diet
Caitie: “It is much more important and actually more effective to focus on what you're going to add into your diet, rather than what you're going to subtract.” - Click Here To Tweet This
Restricting certain foods limits the variety and meal consistency that improves your metabolism.
A shame-filled mindset regarding nutrition results in feelings of deprivation that often result in rebound binging.
Correlation doesn't equal causation. People who report feeling better after cutting out gluten and dairy typically diversify and structure their meals better.
Stopping yourself from focusing on subtraction helps you have a better relationship with food.
It makes it much more difficult to have natural control around our portions with excessive food rules and restrictions.
Caitie: “We want food to be something that is life-giving, not something that is laden with feelings of guilt, or shame, or stress.” - Click Here To Tweet This
[20:26] Nutrition Myth #3: Bloating is Bad
Bloating is a normal part of digestion. Swelling happens when food passes through the GI tract.
Bloating has become demonized by the mainstream media with its obsession with having a flat stomach.
Sub-myth: The first line of defense when experiencing abnormal uncomfortable bloating is eliminating certain foods. Elimination only works if you have a food allergy.
The first line of defense to address bloating is actually just ensuring you're relaxed while eating.
Shame and guilt around food might also cause bloating.
[28:33] Nutrition Myth #4: Emotional Eating Problems
Emotional eating is eating beyond your body’s objective energy needs for emotional reasons.
The idea that emotional eating is inherently problematic is a myth. It’s impossible to eliminate a human’s natural occasional drive to eat for emotional reasons.
Eating is a very functional response to emotions.
Emotional eating can often be healthy. But it's worth unpacking when it becomes your default tool in soothing yourself.
Emotional eating only becomes a problem when it causes dysregulation in the body or becomes an irrational habit.
[33:17] Nutrition Myth #5: Calories In, Calories Out
Restricting a certain amount of calories won’t result in a specific amount of weight loss.
Multiple things affect our metabolism, including genetics, environment, history of dieting, hormones, life phase, etc.
Caitie: “Your body is not a machine. Your body is not something that you can just plug in a specific set of numbers to and know that you're going to get a specific outcome because you ate this specific amount of numbers.” - Click Here To Tweet This
Calorie counting is not a helpful approach to improving your nutrition. It's only beneficial for determining whether something is enough.
Weight is not equal to calories in, calories out. It’s also not an indicator of health.
It's crucial to have a more holistic definition of health outside BMI.
[36:45] Processing Prompt
Which of the five nutrition myths feels the stickiest for you?
Go back to the overview of that nutrition myth in the episode. In your journal, process what you're having a hard time accepting.
[38:58] Action Experiment
Prepare a meal for yourself over the next week that includes starchy carbs.
Add something new or something that has been missing from your diet.
Eat the meal mindfully with minimal distractions.
Add something to the meal that you don’t necessarily need to add but is enjoyable for you.
Stop calorie counting. Practice shifting from pre-meal calorie counting to pre-meal gratitude.
Caitie Corradino MS, RDN, CDN, RYT, CPT, is the founder and lead counselor of Full Soul Nutrition. She is a registered Dietitian-Nutritionist, a Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor, a certified fitness and yoga instructor, an eating disorder recovery coach, and a Reiki practitioner. She is passionate about providing integrative counseling services and healing for the whole person.
Connect with Caitie: Website | Instagram
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Caitie Corradino: It can really change your life if you eat with some gentle intention. However, if you go into improving your nutrition by saying, “Alright, I'm going to cut out gluten and I'm going to cut out dairy.” First of all, those are very arbitrary things to cut out. But second of all, you aren't necessarily making inherent improvements in your nutrition.
Welcome to the whole, full, and alive podcast exploring the art and science of falling in love with your life, with your story and with who you truly are. Underneath your titles, your resume, your relationship status, and your bank account.
I'm Caitie Corradino, a registered dietician, nutritionist, and a certified fitness and yoga instructor, eating disorder recovery coach, Reiki healer, and founder of Full Soul Nutrition. But underneath my titles and resume, I'm a big fan of kitchen dance breaks, early mornings, all things chocolate truffles, world traveling and serendipity.
I'm here to share no bullshit stories and actionable tools to help you feel unshakably worthy. You have everything you need within you to feel whole, full and alive. Right here. right now. Let's get into it. Hi, welcome back to another episode of whole, full, and alive. Thanks so much for coming back or for stopping by for your first episode. I am your host Caitie, and I'm here, solo today.
I want to start this episode with a fun fact. So fun fact, I have never recorded this show from the same place twice, yet. I've been in a different location every single time I have recorded an episode of this podcast so far.
For episode one, I was in the closet of my childhood bedroom while I was visiting with my mom. Talk about a full circle moment. Episode two, I was in a pillow fort in a hotel room in Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Episode three, I was at my friend's apartment in Manhattan. Episode four, I was at an Airbnb in Boston. Episode five, I was at my little brother's apartment in Manhattan. Episode six. I was on Airbnb in Colorado.
Episode seven was recorded months and months ago. Actually, it was an episode from the archives from an Airbnb in Bozeman, Montana. Episode eight was recorded from an Airbnb in Austin, Texas. And episode nine was recorded, finally, in my new apartment because I finally have a home in Denver. But now for episode ten, I'm actually in Costa Rica. I did something of a spontaneous trip with my friend to Costa Rica, just a few weeks after finally settling in a new home after living a nomadic life for a little bit.
But this trip was an important one for my friend and I to do because we've had really similar experiences in our personal lives this year, and we decided that we really wanted to try to get a trip in before the end of the year. And we decided on Costa Rica for special reasons that I can maybe talk about in a different episode. But I'm here now. It's our first night here. I'm in an Airbnb in San Jose, in a closet, kind of in a little bit of a pillow fort situation, I hope that it's helping out the audio.
I wanted to start this episode with that fun fact because I'm really grateful for it. I don't mean for it to come off that I'm traveling in a very bougie and luxurious way because I definitely have not been out galavanting in the world in a bougie and luxurious way. I've definitely been traveling budget style this year. And still I have been traveling this year. And it's been really fulfilling. And it's so exciting that I've been able to see clients and record this podcast from wherever I go.
I promise to just like, use this gift that I've had of being able to travel over the past year in a meaningful way. I think there's a lot that I've experienced by going to a bunch of different places throughout the states and, and also throughout the world. I didn't record any podcasts while I was over in Europe, but I was over there for a while. And yeah, there was a lot that I've learned and I look forward to being able to talk about that aspect of my life soon.
Even though I opened this episode with that fun fact, this episode today is not going to be about travel. We are actually going to come back to the fullness aspect of being whole, full, and alive, we are going to focus on the full part of whole, full, and alive, and circle back to nutrition. Today, I am feeling inspired to talk to you about — I don't want to call nutrition my first love because it definitely wasn't — but it's my main love.
I do a lot of different things. I'm a fitness and yoga instructor, and a meditation teacher, and a body image coach, and a few different things. But I guess if I had to consider myself something first, it would be a registered dietician, and so I feel called today to just return to talking about nutrition for a moment. I kind of gave an overview of two themes that I feel are really important when it comes to focusing on and working on nutrition.
In episode two of the show, those two themes that I talked about were the importance of feeling a sense of internal safety, and regulating your nervous system in order to improve your nutrition and in order to hear what your body has to say to you about the type of food and the amount of food and whatever that it needs.
I also talked about the importance of gentle structure in nutrition, and letting go of rigid and restrictive diets and turning towards a more gentle and flowy way of working on nutrition. And you can circle back and listen to that episode, episode two, if you're curious to hear more about the kind of foundation for the nutrition philosophy that I will be exploring on this show.
But if you've already listened to that episode, and you're ready to go a little bit deeper, I'm going to talk a little bit deeper about nutrition today. I want to bust some nutrition myths today. And the reason I'm feeling inspired to bust some nutrition myths today is because, like I said, I have been traveling a lot. And so I've been meeting a lot, a lot, a lot of new people. I meet multiple cab drivers a day. I meet a lot of interesting servers at restaurants and other travelers.
There's just been a ton of new people that I've encountered during my time traveling. And of course, it always comes up, like what do you do for work? Why are you able to travel so much and still work? And I tell people that I am a dietitian and I provide virtual nutrition counseling. And that always yields a million of the same questions about nutrition.
So many people that I meet, who I tell I'm a dietitian, will kind of ask me the same questions. They'll go off with the same questions about nutrition, or they will kind of just spit out what they believe to be facts about nutrition. And it's so funny because there really are very few people I encounter, new people I encounter that don't kind of dive into their own nutrition philosophies upon learning. I'm a dietitian, and of course, it's always interesting to hear what people think and what people have to say about nutrition.
I want to share the top five myths that come up the most when I first shared it with people. I'm a dietician. And these are also the top five myths, I'd say that like, come up with my family and friends when they decided to talk to me about nutrition. And I'd say these are also the top five myths that come up when I first start working with a new client at my practice. I want to bust some myths today. So that's what we're gonna do, we're gonna keep the structure super straightforward today.
I'm gonna kind of dive through these five nutrition myths, talk a little bit about each of them. And then, I will also, as I always do, provide you with a processing prompt for today that you can process in a journal or out loud or with a friend or with your therapist or in an audio note to yourself, and with an actionable experiment that you can implement in your life today and see what results you get. So let's do it. Top five nutrition myths.
Myth number one is that carbohydrates, particularly starchy carbohydrates are bad for you. So often, when I tell someone that I'm a dietician, they'll be like, “Oh, I love pasta,” or “I love bread,” or “Oh, I love rice,” as if that is a sinful thing. As if that is a bad thing, as if eating rice and pasta and bread is inherently harmful to their health. Let's talk about why starchy carbohydrates are not inherently bad for you. Starchy carbohydrates are actually essential to your health.
Carbs are essential for efficient energy production. Carbs are essential for brain function. Your brain requires, I think it's about 130 grams of carbohydrates per day just to function optimally. So if you don't have enough carbohydrates throughout the day, you're going to experience issues with your brain that manifests as increased anxiety or impaired focus. Carbs are also essential for detoxification, like your liver doesn't function optimally without carbs.
Carbs are also essential for controlled digestion. Things get backed up without carbohydrates. And carbs are also essential for all of the things that we hear kind of like these buzzwords, right, like gut health, like carbohydrates are essential for gut health, for cleaning out your intestines and moving things out. And carbs are also essential for keeping your blood cholesterol levels in control, which is super important for your heart health.
You need starchy carbohydrates in particular, right? Not just any carbohydrates, right? Technically, fruits and vegetables and like, watery fruits and vegetables fall under the category of carbohydrate, but you need the starchy type of carbs, the complex type of carbs like bread and rice and potatoes and things like that.
Because these things have, first of all, more grams of carbohydrates per serving. It's really difficult to meet the amount of grams of carbohydrates that you need through watery fruits and vegetables, because they have so few grams of carb, right? They're very fair to poor sources of energy. And you'd have to eat a ton of watery fruits and veggies to technically meet the amount of grams of carbs you need. And even then, you'd be eating a ton of fiber, which would be really bad for your digestion.
I feel like I'm already getting complicated here. But you need starchy carbohydrates. It is a myth that you should restrict starchy carbohydrates. The ketogenic diet causes inefficient energy production, causes impaired brain function, causes bad digestion, and causes things to get really backed up. The ketogenic diet has only been shown to be effective for children with epilepsy in preventing seizures.
That kind of makes sense if you think about it. I don't really know all the mechanics behind this, but starchy carbs are so important for brain function, like it is your brain's preferred source of energy. If a child is having epileptic seizures, I would think that having less starchy carbohydrates go to the brain would send a little bit less energy to the brain, and maybe prevent seizures if they're having issues with that.
I don't know again, like the exact mechanics of how that works, but I'm guessing it's something like that. And I'm guessing that's why the keto diet, where you severely restrict carbohydrates is only efficient- were only shown to be efficient for children with epilepsy. And so that's the only case in which we should be really severely restricting carbohydrates. But why is it that we always hear you should cut out carbs, like bread is bad for you, rice is bad for you, potatoes are bad for you?
Well, that's because when you cut out carbohydrates, your body stops digesting carbohydrates, and when your body stops digesting carbohydrates, the little bit of water that's normally released when you digest carbs, stops being released. So fad diets usually recommend cutting carbs because when your body digests carbs, a little bit of water is released. In other words, the chemical reaction that metabolizes carbohydrates releases some water.
Obviously, when you stop eating carbs, the metabolism of carbs stops, and that makes you lose water weight. So that's why a lot of really popular fad diets like keto appear to work so well at the start because they make you lose this water weight. But once you start adding carbohydrates back into your diet, that water weight is regained. And you might be thinking, well, what if I just keep restricting carbohydrates? That is absolutely not possible.
Because of all of the functions of carbohydrates that I listed before, it's essential, it's essential to increase your blood glucose by eating carbohydrates, a moderate amount, at least have carbohydrates at all of your meals. All the functions that I listed of carbs would be impaired if you cut them out. And also, binge eating would be likely because your body would start to crave carbohydrates because your body is so smart, and it would tell you that you need carbohydrates.
I guarantee you if you ask around to anyone who's done a really carbohydrate restricted diet, like keto, they've had experiences with rebound binge eating, because it's just a biological function of the body. The body is designed to crave carbohydrates if it's deprived of them. And so you will be likely to experience rebound binging, I could probably do a whole episode just on carbohydrates and just on rebound binging.
Because there is so much to go into it this but I could probably do an episode for all of the nutrition myths that I'm about to run through today. So let's suffice it to say that that's a summary for why carbohydrates are really important, why you can't let your blood glucose run low by restricting yourself of carbohydrates, and why it's especially important for athletes, and people who exercise ,and people who run.
I am always really disturbed when I hear people who are like runners and consistently exercising who need that quick energy from carbohydrates restricting and going on the keto diet. But anyway, I'm gonna pull myself over and move into nutrition myth number two.
Nutrition myth number two is that if you want to improve your diet, if you are seeking to increase your energy levels, or improve your health through nutrition, you should start by focusing on what you want to take away from your diet, you should start by focusing on what you are going to restrict. That is a myth. Because it is much more important and actually more effective to focus on what you're going to add into your diet, rather than what you're going to subtract.
When you focus on subtraction, when you focus on restricting certain foods, not only are you not focusing on adding more variety, and perhaps adding more fruits and vegetables, and maybe adding more meal consistency throughout the day to improve your metabolism, but you're also setting yourself up for this sort of like a shame-filled mindset when it comes to nutrition, that is going to result in feelings of deprivation, that might result in that same rebound binging that I was talking about when I was talking about carbohydrates. So if you set out to improve your nutrition, it's a beautiful thing, right?
Food is definitely a really important part of our health, it's important to pay attention and be mindful of the way we are fueling ourselves with food, it can really change your life. If you add gentle structure to the way that you eat, it can really change your life if you eat with some gentle intention. However, if you go into improving your nutrition by saying, “All right, I'm going to cut out gluten and I'm going to cut out dairy.”
First of all, those are very arbitrary things to cut out. But second of all, you aren't necessarily making inherent improvements in your nutrition. Most individuals who think that they feel better after cutting out gluten or dairy from their diet actually feel better because when they cut out gluten and dairy, they also end up adding more vegetables, or when they cut out gluten and dairy, it's also a time when they start exercising more.
When they cut out gluten and dairy, it's also a time where they start just looking at more recipes and adding more diversity and variety to their diet. And so correlation does not equal causation, right? It's really important to look at the whole picture. So many people swear that they feel better when they cut out gluten and dairy, but they don't actually have intolerances to these things. And what's actually going on for them is that they are adding more recipe diversity.
They are adding more structure to their eating in general. They are adding new foods that are helping improve their digestion and their energy levels. And it isn't necessarily about the subtraction of gluten or dairy, but about the day's addition of new foods and the addition of new structure to their eating.
This is an important perspective to take not only because it's important to add new things to your diet and to add gentle structure to your diet, but also because when you stop focusing so much on the subtraction, it helps you to have a better relationship with food.
When you focus on what you're going to take away, it creates a really negative mentality when it comes to food, because you are constantly telling yourself, “I can't have this thing. I'm bad if I have this thing,” and it creates a fraught relationship with food, one that's filled with shame. And shame is a very biologically potent emotion that can really stress our bodies out and make it difficult for us to connect to our hunger cues and our fullness cues and our cravings.
When we deprive ourselves of something, when we say, “I'm not allowed to have cookies, I'm not allowed to have chocolate,” our brain starts to crave that forbidden food a little bit, and the next time we give ourselves access to that food, the dopamine response to that food is higher, and it becomes more likely that you're going to overdo it, especially because your brain is in this mindset of like, “okay, I won't ever get access to this food again.
I'm gonna go back on the diet again tomorrow. I'm gonna go back to the restricting tomorrow. So I have to go to town and have as big of a portion size right now as I possibly can.” It makes it much more difficult to have natural control around our portions when we are setting so many food rules and restrictions. So, that is why it's a myth that you should focus on what you are going to subtract from your diet when you're first trying to improve your nutrition.
Really, it's more important to focus on what you are going to add because you inherently end up improving your nutrition more that way, right? And you prevent this sort of “Last Supper” mentality around the food that you're going to restrict that causes binge eating, overeating, or just uncomfortable fullness or an uncomfortable eating experience.
You also prevent shame from getting mixed into your nutrition; you prevent shame from getting mixed into the way that you eat. And shame is a very biologically potent emotion. We don't want to associate shame with food. We want food to be something that is life-giving, not something that is laden with feelings of guilt, or shame, or stress. Nutrition myth number three: bloating is inherently bad.
Let's talk about this one for a second. So first of all, this is one of the most common things that clients come to me with, they say that they're experiencing very uncomfortable bloating, they just want to stop bloating, they just want to stop feeling so bloated all the time, they want to stop feeling bloated after eating. And I believe the most important thing to point out here is that some bloating is so normal.
Some bloating is a normal part of digestion. When food is passing through your GI tract, there is going to be some swelling that happens in your GI tract. That is a normal part of metabolizing food. That's a normal part of creating energy from food. It's a normal part of having a body.
A lot of the people who are kind of citing bloating as an issue are actually just experiencing a very normal part of digestion that is, unfortunately, demonized by the mainstream media because we see flat tummy tees and I mean a million things. It's more than just flat tummy tees. It's like every piece of media right really focuses on having a flat stomach. That is the thing that's seen as an ultimate ideal body goal. I don't need to go into the history of that.
I think we all know that, especially for women. However, there might be some people who are legitimately experiencing some discomfort and bloating, and I want to go into like kind of a sub-myth with this. So the sub-myth that I want to address is that if you are experiencing uncomfortable bloating that you know is not normal, the first thing you must do is cut out gluten and dairy and focus on whatever foods you need to eliminate.
That is not true. If you are experiencing legitimately uncomfortable bloating that's a little bit beyond normal bloating, the first line of defense cannot be, “I'm going to cut out this and this food.” Unless, of course, you know for some reason you have a food allergy or whatever, right. This is not a substitute for individualized medical or mental health advice. Probably should have said that at the beginning.
None of this is a substitute for individualized medical or mental health advice, perhaps you do have some sort of food allergy. However, if you know you don't have a food allergy, the first line of defense cannot be, again, just going to “Oh, I have to cut out bread. I have to cut out pasta,” all these foods that are typically demonized. The first line of defense to address bloating is much simpler than you think.
The first line of defense to address bloating is making sure that you're relaxing when you eat, making sure that you're not engaging in a million distractions while you're eating. Making sure you're relaxed, making sure your nervous system is calm, like I talked about in episode two. Making sure that your body isn't in this sort of anxious, hyper aroused, stressed out, fight-or-flight mode before, during and after eating, right?
Because if your body's in that hyper aroused mode, it's not going to prioritize digestion, it's going to prioritize other things. Your body is going to think it has bigger fish to fry. And so of course, you're going to experience a little bit of GI upset. Of course, things are going to move a little bit slower through your GI tract because your body is putting its energy elsewhere, when you're so stressed out and tense and high strung like that.
To the extent that you can help it, it is important to let the first line of defense for addressing uncomfortable bloating be relaxing, and eliminating distractions while you're eating; making sure you're eating mindfully and somewhat slowly. I use the word somewhat because I think some people take this to an extreme and are way too slow. And they turn eating into like a grandiose meditation that ends up like stressing people out even more, but somewhat slowly, right?
I think it's worth saying that if you're trapped in this dieting mentality, and you have all these rules about what you should and should not be eating, and you've got that shame associated with eating like I was talking about before, then that might also cause bloating, like shame and guilt might actually cause bloating.
So these things are so much more important than saying, “Okay, I'm experiencing uncomfortable bloating. Iit must be that I have to cut out this and this food. It must be that I'm eating the wrong foods.” You might not be eating the wrong food at all. You might be eating a very healthy and balanced diet. But you might be stressed out when you're eating, you might be engaging in too many distractions when you're eating.
Maybe you're not chewing your food enough. Maybe you're just feeling a lot of shame and guilt associated with eating that's causing more physiological stress. Think of these things first, when you're trying to address bloating, if you know that the bloating you're experiencing is truly abnormal and uncomfortable and beyond the normal bloat that you experience when food is passing through your GI tract.
Because remember, the media, generally speaking, demonizes even the normal bloat. Nutrition myth number four, moving forward, is that you have an emotional eating problem or that everyone has an emotional eating problem. And emotional eating, just to define it: I use this definition in my practice, maybe other people have different definitions for it.
I define emotional eating as eating beyond your body's objective energy needs, and feeling the urge to do so for emotional reasons, rather than for physical reasons. So in other words, your body's definitely not saying I'm hungry, but you're feeling the urge to eat because it feels soothing in like a sensory and emotional way. And it's a myth that emotional eating is inherently problematic, because, as humans, we will never be able to completely eliminate an occasional drive to eat for emotional reasons.
Because eating is a very human and very reasonable and very functional response to emotions. Food is an enjoyable, soothing, nostalgic, and sentimental thing. So of course, we gravitate towards foods sometimes when we're experiencing big emotions, whether they're positive emotions or negative emotions. Sometimes, it's quite healthy to soothe yourself with food while you're riding the wave of a difficult emotion like sadness.
I was feeling stressed at the end of the day the other day and I ate some cookie dough, not because my body necessarily needed to have that cookie dough in order to get energy. I had a full dinner, but my brain wanted it because it felt soothing. And also sometimes it's very healthy to amplify the wave of a positive emotion like excitement or celebration with food.