1. You should ALWAYS eat breakfast.
I'm a huge advocate of healthy breakfasts—it's the one meal we tend to have complete control of (before the madness of the day begins!). It offers a great opportunity to pack a lot of goodness into one meal, but not everyone is hungry first thing in the morning. If you really don't feel like eating, you shouldn't—you should wait until you're hungry. There's nothing more important for good health than learning how to tune in to your body and listen to its signals. If that means not eating until 11 a.m., that's fine. Just be sure you have something prepared so you're not reaching for a coffee and croissant when your hunger does kick in.
2. Breakfast foods should only be eaten in the morning.
Oatmeal, green smoothies, muesli, bagels—all of these are fantastic, nutrient-dense foods that most of us consider only for breakfast. But this isn't a rule! They can be eaten whenever. Try oatmeal topped with yogurt, nuts, and fruits for lunch, or a bagel with salmon and cream cheese for dinner. Why not?
3. Gluten is everyone's enemy.
Gluten-free has suddenly become a widespread "health craze" and many people are convinced that—celiac or not—cutting gluten out will make them healthier. This simply isn't true. While I'm not disputing the fact that many individuals can experience a vast improvement in their health by cutting out gluten, I don't believe in cutting out any food indiscriminately. Not least because a large number of these gluten-free foods are overly processed and packed with ingredients you can't even pronounce! Being diagnosed by a doctor as celiac is one thing, but gluten-free doesn't necessarily mean healthier.
4. You should never eat after 8 p.m.
The idea that anything you eat after 8 p.m. will be automatically stored as fat is a total myth. Our body's metabolism is much more complex than that! The reality is, if you're working out in the evening (as lots of us do), it's extremely important that you replenish your body with a nutrient-rich meal consisting of protein and some complex carbohydrates afterwards, whether that's at 6 p.m., 7 p.m. or 9 p.m. Where many of us go wrong is in what we eat in the evenings—it's a time when we often eat out of boredom or to relieve stress, and snack on high-carb, sugary snacks like cookies, chocolate, and booze. Too much of these foods can be detrimental to our health, whatever time we eat them.
5. You should eat only the whites of eggs.
Forget egg white omelettes; to get the full nutritional benefits of the egg, you need to eat the whole thing! Yes the white is where the protein is, but the yolk contains all the wonderful nutrients including brain-boosting choline, heart-healthy omega-3 fats, mood-boosting vitamin D, and blood-cleansing vitamin B12. Egg yolks do contain cholesterol, but we now know that dietary cholesterol contributes very little to our blood cholesterol levels. A better rule is to always buy organic free-range eggs, not only very importantly for ethical reasons, but because the nutrient levels are so much higher.
6. You need to eat every three hours.
This "rule" is not applicable for everyone—as mentioned earlier, healthy eating is all about becoming in tune with your body's signals. Every time you want to eat, you should rate your hunger on a scale of 1 to 10 (1 being none and 10 being ravenous) and eat at around a 7. I really can't emphasize enough the importance of mindful eating. Are you eating because you're stressed, bored, anxious, thirsty, or are you actually hungry?
This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.com. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.