‘Double Dipping Will Kill You’ and Other Strange Myths About Food


Did you know that if you swallow your gum, it will hang out in your stomach forever? Such are the legends of childhood burned in our brain. But what’s truth, what’s myth, and what’s there simply to scare us into good behavior? After all, aren’t all the best nursery rhymes really about avoiding bubonic plague and possibly flesh-craving wolves?

But not all food is so frightening. We decided to debunk some of our strangest myths about food – check out what we found!

Double dipping your food is dangerous.

This is TRUE. Yes, many of us all familiar with George Constanza and his double-dipped chip. (And if you are not, click here immediately.) But will the double-dipped chip really make you sick? Yes, it turns out that it could. Experts say that double dipping a chip can transfer about 10,000 bacteria from the eater’s mouth to the dip. So if you at a party, that means 50 to 100 bacteria can travel from one mouth to another, courtesy of the dip. And sure, we like our friends. But do we really like them that much?

If you drop food on the ground, you have five seconds before it is contaminated.

And yet, this is FALSE. First of all, nasty bacteria such as Salmonella (which causes food poisoning) can live on surfaces for over four weeks. If you drop a piece of bologna on tile, 99 percent of the bacteria will practically instantly adhere to the cold cut. If you drop it on wood, around 68 percent of the bacteria moves onto the sandwich meat. If it is on a carpet, .5 percent of bacteria makes bologna its new home. And it all happens instantly. Still want to eat it?

Fresh fruits and veggies are more nutritious than frozen ones.

This is FALSE, and score for the refrigerator set. (Like the jet set, but cooler.) Some of this has to do with fruits and veggies high carbon footprint. Fruit and veggies are at their best nutritional levels right after they are picked from the vine. So the farther they have to travel to your mouth, the more time they have to degrade. When you properly freeze something, you are essentially halting its degradation. But look for clumping in your frozen bag of goodies – if there’s clumping, it is likely the food thawed on travel.

Eating at night makes you gain weight.

This is FALSE and is really a matter of word play. And yes, before Oprah and her minions set upon me; allow me to introduce the science behind it. The time of day of consumption does not reflect on how much weight you will gain. The reason you gain weight is because you consume more calories than you burn. If you have consumed less calories during the day and have a larger meal at night, you’re not going to gain weight. Does that mean you should pig out right before bed time? Heck no, because if you want to maintain your weight, you should always budget your calories .

You can cure a hangover with food.

This is FALSE but man, I wish this were true. Now that I am older and learned, I drink less. (More emphasis on the older and less on the learned, but still.) But “back in the day” (I’m also holding an ear horn to my head right now) I used to party like it was 1999 for about eight years running. So I became well acquainted with epically-bad hangovers.

And I swore that slices of plain, whole wheat bread were the key to lessening my barf-marathon. But in actuality, they weren’t. You have a hangover because you drank too much and are dehydrated. (So, yes, drink a lot of water. But you’ll still going to feel terrible until the excessive alcohol is out of your system.) You’ve also over-taxed your liver, which is less able to supply glucose to all the needed parts and causing all these yucky feelings. The only true cure to a hangover is not to drink so much alcohol in the first place.

Image: Triple Tri

Katherine Butler

Katherine Butler is the Beauty Editor of EcoSalon and currently resides in Los Angeles, California.