Intermountain Health logo
Set location
Get care nowMake an appointmentSign in

LiVe Well

4 Holiday Food Myths Busted


Dec 11, 2017

'Tis the season for temptations, but believe it or not, few holiday food myths hold true. We’re here today to stick a fork in some of these food-related falsehoods.

  1. Since we leave cookies out for Santa at night, does the late-night eating make him gain weight?
  2. No. A calorie is a calorie. Our stomachs don’t know what time it is. We tend to lose inhibitions at night because we’re tired or there are social events in the evening, so we tend to overindulge. Overindulgence leads us to consume more calories, and that’s what causes weight gain. If Santa can stick to one cookie, he’d most likely maintain his weight.

  3. After all the feasting, do I need to do a cleanse?
  4. Cleanses or fasting have become very trendy, but our bodies have a naturally occurring system that cleanses us all the time (utilizing the spleen, liver, and kidneys). There’s not much research to show that fasting increases this built-in system. Drinking the right amount of water and eating the right nutrients can help to keep these systems keep running smoothly.

  5. Rolls, pie, and stuffing, oh my! Do carbs make you fat?
  6. Carbohydrates don’t make you fat. Eating too many calories makes you gain weight. We just tend to overindulge in certain carb-loaded foods. Our bodies need carbs; certain organs like our eyes and brains are built to only receive energy from carbs. Low-carb diets can make you lose weight initially, due to the restrictiveness, but they’re usually not sustainable.

  7. Looking at holiday cravings: Do I crave foods because I’m deficient in certain nutrients?
  8. No. Some other mammals, like deer, crave salt in the springtime but humans aren’t like that. We tend to get cravings because a reward center in our brain is stimulated by fat and sugar combinations. The only mineral humans seem to crave when we have a deficiency is iron, but that doesn’t make us eat more iron-rich food. It can, however, cause what’s known as pica — a disorder where someone has the urge to eat nonfood items such as ice, clay, and even cement.