Chances are if you’re a dancer, you’re doing pretty well in the eating department. Your body is your instrument, after all, and making sure it’s properly fed and hydrated is crucial. But it’s also easy to get caught up in fad diets, in doing “what everyone else is doing,” or in taking nutrition advice from questionable sources just because a person looks fit. (Pro tip: Anyone dishing out hardcore diet and nutrition tips should come equipped with a degree — look for an R.D. after a person’s name, which means he or she is a registered dietitian!)
Here are five food myths that have been debunked. Tell your friends — and enjoy that bowl of spaghetti!
1. Carbs are bad.
Ah, the low-carb phase of the late ’90s and early 2000s. Everyone got caught up in it, and we can see why: Ditching carbs helped tons of people lose weight — fast. But ditching an entire food group — unless you have a sensitivity, intolerance, or allergy — isn’t generally healthy. So don’t pass on the pasta and potatoes because you’re afraid they’ll make you gain weight. Carbohydrates = energy, and dancers definitely need energy!
2. You should opt for egg whites over yolks.
At some point a few years ago, egg yolks started getting a bad rep. But for most young dancers, cholesterol isn’t a major concern — and there’s research proving that eating the entire egg is part of a healthy diet. (Bonus: Eggs are filling and are low in saturated fat.)
3. Organic automatically = healthy.
Not necessarily! It’s pretty easy to slap an “organic” or “natural” label on foods. Organic chocolate is still chocolate. Processed organic snacks are still, well, processed snacks. Don’t let one word define what makes something healthy!
4. When given the option, always opt for the low-fat choice.
Another craze from the 1990s: low-fat everything! But when fat is removed from a product, whether it’s yogurt or creamer, other stuff is added in to make sure it still tastes good (think sugar, salt, sweeteners, or other mostly unhealthy substitutes). Always read the ingredient list of a product before reaching for what seems like the best bet.
5. Gluten is evil.
Yes, if you have a gluten allergy or intolerance or you’ve been diagnosed with Celiac Disease, gluten isn’t going to make you feel good and you should avoid it. But for most people — dancers and non-dancers — gluten is totally OK. Gluten-free bread isn’t necessarily healthier than regular bread — and in some cases, like with low-fat foods, it may be less healthy because it’s been more processed.