Even if you are a health-conscious person you may not be immune. You may buy organic food, exercise regularly, and maintain your inner peace. You may be tempted to believe you are living an exceptionally healthy life, but chances are you have blind spots that keep you from optimum wellness. Here are common mistakes that even the most health conscious people make.
1. Drinking Too Much Fruit Juice
I’m not talking here about popular brands of fruit juice that may bang on about being healthy, but often are made up of water, sugar and fruit concentrate. Or worse, they just contain chemicals, which taste like fruit. I’m talking about drinking too much 100% natural juice. Even though it has some health benefits and drinking in moderation is fine – as juice can be an excellent provider of vitamins and minerals, and helps to cleanse the body, but drinking too much natural juice has also drawbacks, as juice can be extremely easy to over-consume. It contains a lot of sugar that causes a rapid spike in blood sugar and unstable blood sugar levels, and has very little of the fiber that real fruit does. For example, one cup of orange juice contains 0.5 gram of fiber while a cup of fresh raw orange has 4.3 grams. According to SFGate website, the most important aspect to consider when you decide whether to incorporate fruit juice into your diet is whether it fits into your recommended calorie intake. So when you feel you drink too much fruit juice, replace some of it with the real fruit or drink instead smoothies that contain also the fiber.
2. Not Reading Labels and Not Focusing on Real, Unprocessed Foods
It’s easy to see a food product that says ‘healthy’ in big, bold letters and assume that it is, indeed, healthy. Food companies would never lie, right? Wrong. Some shameless companies who market our food want even the health conscious among us to believe their food is healthy. However, even if they add small amount of healthy ingredients to their food, it doesn’t make it is healthy. Not when the food product is largely made up of chemicals and ingredients that we can’t pronounce. Don’t fall for words on the front of the product, like, ‘low fat’, ‘contains whole grain’, ‘omega 3.’ Check the label on the back of the food product to see if that’s actually true, so you know exactly what you could be eating. Instead of stocking up on ‘healthy’ commercial food products, (which often claim to be low in fat, but are usually high in sugar or artificial sweeteners), go for unprocessed food in its natural state. I’m talking fresh fruit, vegetables, nuts and seeds. Just use your common sense and enjoy the food that nature has provided for us, rather than what a factory has man-made for us.
3. Not Eating Enough Protein
It is important that we stock up on our protein intake if we want to keep our bodies in tip-top condition. According to the official nutritional daily intake, we should aim for about 56 grams per day for men and 46 grams per day for women. You should get at least 10% of your daily calories, but not more than 35%, from protein, according to the Institute of Medicine. Choose healthy sources of protein like chicken or lean steak, but remember that not all protein comes from meat and even vegetarians or vegan can get meat–free protein. A study by the American Physiological Society showed that protein can be beneficial for body composition, especially for people who exercise regularly. A study by US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health and PubMed Central proved that protein is also the most satiating macronutrient and your body expends calories metabolizing it. This is great news for anyone who is watching their weight!
4. Being Afraid of Eating Fat
Your parents, (or indeed you), may remember back in the 60’s and 70’s when it was widely publicized that saturated fat was bad for you and a leading cause of heart disease. Consequently, a high carb, low fat diet was recommended to all Americans. However, now there are different voices claiming that a low-fat diet isn’t so effective or good for you and doesn’t make you lose weight, or reduce your risk of heart disease and cancer. According to a study by the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, natural fats are harmless: they increase HDL (the “good”) cholesterol and alter LDL (the “bad”) to a benign subtype and they don’t increase your risk of cardiovascular disease. While saturated fat is a necessary part of a balanced diet, you only need a small amount of it to fully benefit it’s health properties, so there is no reason to completely avoid foods that are naturally high in saturated fat, like butter, coconut oil, eggs and red meat… these foods are perfectly healthy if consumed in moderation as part of a balanced diet. The naughty fats you should look to avoid are man-made trans fats and refined vegetable oils such as corn, soybean and others.
5. Thinking All That Matters is Calories
When you are trying to lose weight, it is easy to get caught up in counting calories. Even though we need to consume around a certain number of calories a day, it is more important that we focus on what kind of food our calories are coming from. Different foods and macronutrients go through different metabolic pathways and can affect hunger and hormones in different ways. Counting calories does work for some people, however a lot of people find that it restricts their lifestyle and it is easy to be obsessed with tracking the calories of every single meal or snack. Surely that’s not an easy way to live! So why not focus on enjoying healthy foods and macronutrients to make the most of your hunger and hormones and make your body want to lose weight. Consuming less sugar and refined carbohydrates with more protein and healthy fat can encourage weight loss without having to count every single calorie!
6. Cutting Back on Sodium
You must have heard that sodium is basically evil and consuming too much can lead to high blood-pressure and heart disease. It is true, but it doesn’t mean that you have to eat bland tasting food. According to the American Heart Association, more than 75% of the sodium in the average American diet comes from salt added to processed foods. So as long as you are not eating them frequently, then you’re ok. According to a study conducted by the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, Metabolism Clinical Experimental and the American Diabetes Association, restricting sodium too much can even lead to adverse effects such as insulin resistance, as well as elevated cholesterol and triglycerides. When you cook at home you don’t need your food to taste bland and you can add some salt to your dishes.
7. Eating Too Many Meals
It is believed that the healthiest way to eat to is to consume 5-6 small meals a day. Eating a nutritious and filling breakfast supposedly jump starts the metabolism and then eating regular small portions throughout the day keeps the metabolism going. However this method of eating so many meals a day can be tricky for some people, as it is easy to consume too much food. It is in fact how much food we eat in a day that determines weight gain, rather than how many meals we eat (although eating frequent small meals helps to maintain normal blood sugar levels, and helps avoid binging). This has actually been tested: controlled trials by the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, where one group eats many, smaller meals and the other fewer, larger meals find no difference between groups. For some people it is not natural to be constantly eating. So if you don’t fit to the frequent-small-meal pattern, listen to your body and work up an appetite for your next meal. There is no one way that fits all.
8. Eating Too Many “Health Foods”
Can you eat too much healthy food? The answer could be yes. When it comes to eating healthy foods, some people believe that if it’s good, then more of it is better, and in this case you can definitely eat too many calories. Examples of healthy foods high in calories include nuts and seeds, avocado, olive oil, coconut oil, smoothies, honey, dried fruits and quinoa. So don’t assume that the portion size of healthy food doesn’t matter, because when it comes to calories, you can indeed get too much of a good thing.
9. Relying on Supplements
When we try to regain our health, it can be tempting to turn to natural supplements to help us. They can be effective and work faster than conventional treatments when the supplements are high quality. However, supplements are not necessarily a cure, and nor do they necessarily address the root of the problem. They should be taken if there is a real need for them, such as in cases of nutritional deficiencies or helping to fight certain conditions. Excess amounts of a certain nutrient can in some cases cause more harm than good. For example, a research on the mineral calcium suggests that it is safest to get your calcium from foods that are naturally rich in calcium than from supplements, and that high amounts of calcium in the body can harm your health. The foundation of health comes from the food you eat. Supplements should be used to supplement your diet, not to replace it. Instead, make sure you enrich your diet with fresh, wholesome food in it’s most natural state.