10 Nutrition Worries You Can Stop Stressing About

Here are ten nutrition concerns that you can probably cross off your list of things to worry about. 

Monica Reinagel, MS, LD/N, CNS
5-minute read
Episode #478

image of woman worried about nutrition choices

A recent survey by the American Psychiatric Association found that we are more anxious than ever, about health, finances, relationships, politics...you name it. On a scale of 1 to 100, this year's national anxiety score is 51, which is a 5-point increase from 2017. 

There's surely plenty to worry about these days. But anxious people tend not to be great problem-solvers. So, let's at least make sure we're not stressing out about things that we don't actually need to worry about. As my contribution to the general well-being, here are ten nutrition concerns that you can probably cross off your list.

1. Not getting enough protein.  

There's been a lot of talk lately about the benefits of eating more protein, including better appetite control, weight management, preserving lean muscle, and improving recovery from surgery, illness, or even just hard workouts. But now, I'm hearing from a lot of people who are stressed out because they are not able to eat 150 grams of protein every day. Relax! You do not necessarily have to eat that much protein in order to get the benefits. Every little bit helps. In my article How to Build More Muscle with Less Protein, I explain how to get the most benefit out of the protein that you do eat. The quick and dirty tip: Eat less protein at dinner and more at breakfast and/or lunch. 

2. Getting too much protein.  

Ironically, while half of the Internet seems hell-bent on getting us to eat more protein, the other half is warning us that we are already eating too much. As I explained in my article Do Americans Eat Too Much Protein?, these fears are unfounded. The amount of protein that we consume is not damaging our kidneys or weakening our bones

3. Carbs. 

Carbohydrates have had a rough decade, shouldering most of the blame for our epidemic rates of obesity and diabetes. It's a good idea to limit your intake of refined carbohydrates and added sugars, and to balance your intake of healthy carbohydrates like fruits and whole grains with healthy sources of fat and protein. And, of course, it's not only about the quality of your food choices, the quantity matters too. But it has been repeatedly proven that low carbohydrate diets are no more effective in losing or maintaining your weight than other diets. The diet that works best is the one that you can stick with and that will usually be one that fits your lifestyle and tastebuds. If you need help finding your best diet, start here

4. The Dirty Dozen.

Many of you have memorized this list of fruits and vegetables with the highest pesticide residues and assiduously avoid eating or buying them unless you are sure they are organic. In terms of minimizing your exposure to pesticides or reducing your risk of cancer, this is wasted effort. As I worte in my article on How to Reduce Your Exposure to Pesticides, the amount of pesticides you are exposed to from eating Dirty Dozen produce is far too small to pose a health risk.  The cancer-prevention and other benefits of eating those fruits and vegetables far outweigh any risks. 

5. Cooking the Nutrients out of Foods.

Another persistent and unnecessary worry is that we are cooking (or breeding) all of the nutrition out of our foods. Some nutrients do get lost when foods are cooked but also just when they are washed, or frozen, or even stored in the fridge. But it's OK. There is still plenty of good nutrition to be had from these foods. What's more, the recommended amounts for fruits, vegetables and other foods assume that some of them will be cooked or otherwise processed, so that's already built in. Cook your vegetables however you find them most palatable and you'll probablymore than make up for any nutrients that are lost by eating more of them. 


About the Author

Monica Reinagel, MS, LD/N, CNS

Monica Reinagel is a board-certified licensed nutritionist, author, and the creator of one of iTunes' most highly ranked health and fitness podcasts. Her advice is regularly featured on the TODAY show, Dr. Oz, NPR, and in the nation's leading newspapers, magazines, and websites. Do you have a nutrition question? Call the Nutrition Diva listener line at 443-961-6206. Your question could be featured on the show.