Avoid These Common Heathy Eating Mistakes & Be The Healthiest You
Nutrition isn’t always cut and dry, or black and white, so to speak. We all come from different backgrounds, different relationships with food and different understandings of what healthy eating actually means.
The nutrients that our bodies use from food determines the chemical makeup of our cells, bone marrow, blood, and hormones. Our bodies are literally manufactured out of the foods that we consume. So yes, we are what we eat. When you think about this in terms of your own personal nutrition and dietary choices, it might not seem so hard to make the right decision when it comes to food. But, with the rise of processed foods, low-calorie options, and even the influence of social media – that choice might not be as easy as we thought.
Every mistake listed below is a mistake that I made during my everlasting Healthiest Me journey. These are mistakes that I made many years ago, and they are mistakes that I made last week. I am choosing to bring awareness to these mistakes; I feel that they are more common in the world of healthy eating than we think. I was a proponent of each and every one and only wish I would’ve known it sooner. My goal is to connect, share, and help you get to where you want to be, where you will feel your best, and love your relationship with food.
Now, let’s get into some common yet big healthy eating mistakes
#1 – Low Calorie, Good Marketing & Highly Processed Foods
Marketing, marketing, marketing! Remember way back in high school when we learned all about propaganda and how companies aren’t afraid to fabricate their product in order to sell more of it? Well believe it or not, that is marketing 101: how to get a product to sell.
Nutrition companies are huge advocates for trying to sell the next best thing. And by best I mean the next “healthy” thing. I’m sorry to rain on that parade but let’s take a step back and remember, our diet essentials have been around long before that “natural” granola bar! Companies are willing to use just about every term in the book to persuade and sell consumers on their products, whether it’s truly healthy or not. This is a major factor in the nutrition field and one of the most important aspects to be fully aware of.
“Low Calorie!” “Low Fat” “0 Grams of Sugar!” – Gummy Bears
If it sounds too good to be true, it is. Nutrition and health companies use jargon to trick consumers into buying these foods in order to lose weight or skip calories all together. Although low calorie and sugar free foods will help you reduce your overall daily calories – they are anything but healthy. These foods are very highly processed and fortified with chemicals, additives, dyes, toxins, and even unusually high amounts of sodium. There is a big difference in the nutrition label and the ingredients list. I like to think of the nutrition label (the large rectangular box that describes calories, servings sizes, and macronutrients) as the pretty picture on the front of every magazine. It gives you a taste of the information you’re eyeing for, without giving you the information that you actually need to know. On the contrary, the ingredients list is where the money’s at – it’s what you actually need to know! This is where the hidden agenda is finally exposed. Companies can’t hide what is really in the products and you will be very surprised to find many healthy-labeled lists filled with unhealthy ingredients.
When I first set out to gain some muscle and “look more fit” – I drank and ate just about every product that read low cal./no sugar added. Synthetic protein bars, protein powders, frozen meals, or diet soda; I was willing to consume it to save on overall daily calories. Little did I know that the sugar alcohols, chemicals, and toxins that I was eating was actually prolonging my goals and causing a handful of other issues! I suffered from severe migraines, digestive issues, trouble sleeping, and couldn’t build muscle for the life of me. Although I was saving on calories, the processed junk was taking a toll on my body and overall health.
If the label looks too good to be true, targeted towards “healthy eaters” or swap real ingredients for the fake stuff – stay away! Companies are listening and following the trends; they know consumers need to lose weight and want to live “healthier” lives. Even candy and cookie companies! Remember this next time you go to the grocery store and find yourself in the packaging isle. Those donuts might have a picture of a barbell on it but no – you don’t need donuts to deadlift.
#2 – Skipping / Waiting To Eat
You wake up before the sun, grab your coffee, and –
Do you eat before you workout? Should you eat? No bloat? Feeling lean? If you eat you might feel bloated? If your bloated, you won’t look as skinny!
Oh that good morning feeling. I think we’ve all thought about it once or twice, to eat or not to eat? It’s becoming more and more popular for girls and women to skip breakfast solely because they like that “lean” feeling. Instagram has become yet another showcase of this with the whole before and after pictures of a.m. bodies compared to p.m. bodies.
Skipping a meal or waiting to eat until you’re absolutely starving is a big healthy eating mistake. Your hunger is trying to tell you something – um hello, feed me! Hunger hormones such as Ghrelin and Leptin control your appetite and tell your brain when you’re feeling hungry or full. After a full 7-8 hour fast (when you’re sleeping), your stomach is going to naturally signal your brain and request food, which is completely normal and healthy! Having a well balanced meal that consists of protein, fats, complex carbs, and fiber is exactly what your body needs in order to turn off these hunger hormones and tell your body “Okay I’m ready to start my day!”
Skipping or holding off on meals can also greatly effect the decisions you make for the rest of the day. Say you skip breakfast and bring a small chicken salad for lunch – chances are, you will still be hungry and craving food later in the day. These cravings might lead to grabbing a cookie at the office or shoving your face with everything in sight once you get home. Just like mistake #1, saving/skipping calories does not mean you are eating any healthier or will achieve your goals any quicker. Again, this can lead to even more of a set back and a very unhealthy relationship with food and your body.
Eating might make you feel full but it’s quite necessary! Beyond the obvious, food is essential for life and what your body needs to grow and change. I didn’t start to see a difference in my body (leaning out, building muscle, etc.) until I started to feed my body with real, wholesome, nutrients. I love calories because I love my body and I love the food that I eat!
#3 – Ignoring Your Lifestyle & Planning
Our bodies are all unique, especially when it comes to food and nutrition. If you’ve kept up with my blog thus far, then you probably know what I’m going to say: what works for me, might not work for you – and that is totally okay!
We have science, facts, and evidence that support metabolic reactions in the body, as well as a million other things that have to do with how your body breaks down and uses the food that we eat. However, there aren’t publications quite like knowing your body. Each body is completely different and how we break down, use, and digest food is also very different. Many of us deal with food allergies, intolerances, and lifestyle preferences that others might not. Environmental and lifestyle factors also play a huge role in the foods we eat and choices we make throughout the day. Again, factors that contribute to the unique breakdown of food in each and every body.
It’s okay to admit that your day is freaking busy, you’re beyond exhausted by the end of it, and the gym is the very last thing on your mind. Once you understand your lifestyle, you accept it and make yourself a better schedule. Nutrition and eating healthy foods shouldn’t be put on the back burner just because you work a 9-5. Whatever your day brings, let nutrition play as your sidekick. Food equals energy and without it, you will be feeling everything but healthy.
I’m sure you’ve heard the good old saying, “Those who fail to plan, plan to fail!” – As much as I hate cliche quotes, this one couldn’t be more true. Planning out your breakfast, lunch, and dinner to correspond with your day is crucial for staying on track throughout the week. It’s also a huge reason why most people aren’t getting in enough nutrients and constantly feel tired, groggy, or even bloated. Your daily diet must work with your lifestyle, even if you’re a work-a-holic or a full time student.
· Not a morning person, always rushing, and can’t seem to find time for breakfast? Try one of my go to smoothies or oat bowls! They’re filled with protein, fats, and healthy carbs to keep you feeling full all morning.
· Can’t figure out what to make for lunch? Need to pack something to bring with you? I love salads and taco bowls that I can prepare in the morning, throw in a tupperware, and bring with me to work and class. These options have protein, healthy fats, and leafy greens to keep you feeling satisfied.
· Not a clue what to make for dinner on weeknights? Pizza is always easier? Dinner is one thing that I truly enjoy making every single night. Crazy, right?! I make it extremely easy and quite thought-less by following these simple must have’s: protein, vegetables, complex carbohydrate. This gives me a million options and recipes to play with! Here are a few of our favorites
#4 – Calling It Quits
I’m a firm believer in that the first meal of the day is by far the most important. Breakfast is the first meal after a 7+ hour fast (overnight), which means your body is going to readily use up those nutrients for different needs, systems, and functions. This first meal also tends to “set the tone” for the rest of your day.
Say you choose a vanilla latte for breakfast; the effects of that latte will stick with you for the rest of the day for a number of reasons: 1. Insulin spikes and crashes are realer than real 2. Coating your tastebuds with sugar will always make you want more and 3. You might just want to call it quits on healthy eating from that point on. From the day I sought interest in “healthy eating,” I’ve struggled with this. It’s one of those “Well I already screwed my diet up, so whats the point!” moments that we all know and
love so dearly. The majority of people that I talk to (mommas especially) admit to having this mentality, though they know it only makes things worse.
I’m human, you’re human, and we’re really just trying to live the healthiest, happiest, and balanced lifestyle. With that comes decisions, cravings, and outside influences every single day. There will be days that you decide to have a donut on your way to work and that is totally fine! But, it’s so important to realize what you will feel like in an hour after eating that donut and make better decisions for the rest of your day. Your body will crave sugar after you give your body sugar. It’s not really a one and done type deal. Your body releases happy hormones that keep reminding you about how delicious and “good” that donut made you feel while eating it. Your body is also very tricky and great at playing mind games.
Before you call it quits and give up on the rest of your day of healthy eating after treating yourself, take a step back and remember to look at the big picture. One handful of chips at lunch or grabbing lattes with some friends around noon does not mean you have to give up on the rest of your day. An extra few hundred calories is better than an extra few thousand calories. Be kind to yourself, think about your life beyond one meal, move on, and get back on track next time.
#5 – Guilt + Restriction
Disordered eating is considered anything other than having a normal and healthy relationship to food. Constantly thinking or worrying about your next meal, what your body looks like after a meal, or how many calories are in a smudge of peanut butter is not normal.
To feel guilty, anxious, or the need to restrict yourself from certain foods is another common yet important healthy eating mistake to be aware of. I love explaining this to people who are new to nutrition because it is one thing that I hold near and dear to my heart. I think there is a fine line between being aware and obsessing over nutrition, food and your body.
It is quite inevitable that learning about nutrition, whether a university student or blog reader, does change your perception towards food and your body. You start to become more aware of calories, the importance of calories when losing or gaining weight, and how your body utilizes the food that you eat. While there is absolutely nothing wrong with being aware (I even recommend it), there is something wrong with revolving your entire life around it. I can’t even begin to tell you the number of ice cream stops that I missed out on, or treats that I didn’t eat while traveling with my sisters. I would blame it on being ‘full’ or having an intolerance just so people wouldn’t pry. I knew if I gave into a craving, I would be thinking about it for the next hour, looking at my stomach in the mirror all night, and I would be at the gym extra the next day.
Restriction and will-power can only last for so long. At some point, your conscious will give in, you will indulge, and then you have to make a choice – hate yourself or move on and eat better. If you’re stuck in the vicious restriction, binge, guilt cycle – this decision might not be as easy for you to see or make.
This sole mistake is what encouraged me to make this blog. I figured out how to control my conscious, look at the big picture, and find balance. I talk about this very openly and I wish I could shout it from the rooftop.. to you! – I have a treat night once a week. Lately, it’s been like twice a week but hey, it’s football season! In all seriousness, I lost 20+ pounds with this little trick and I am the happiest now then I have ever been. My goal is to eat really healthy, delicious, and nutritious foods all week (Sunday-Friday) and then enjoy a treat on Saturday night. This might mean a big ole plate of pasta with extra cheese and garlic bread, or this might mean some pumpkin cookies and ice cream after pizza. I never go more than a week without giving into my cravings – life would be way less fun!
#6 – Juice & Detox Cleanses
Continuing right along, there is one more step to the whole restrict/binge/guilt cycle and that is detox. After we treat ourselves or eat something that we normally wouldn’t, the next thought is “How do I get this out of my body?!” Whether it’s drinking a skinny detox tea (aka laxative), “green juice”, or fasting for the entire next morning; this is another really big mistake in your healthy eating world.
First off, it’s like we’re punishing ourselves because of what we ate, and that should never ever be the case! Goal number one is to have a healthy and happy relationship with food. Wanting to rid your body of sugars or “toxins” because you had a donut, doesn’t necessarily contribute to that goal. Secondly, juice cleanses for weight loss are short-term and actually benefit the body very little. You are missing out on key nutrients such as proteins and healthy fats that are vital for building muscle, hormones, and support a healthy metabolism. Chugging green juice might help up your veggie intake, but should never be used as a meal replacement or detoxifier.
We, as humans, have this great big organ known as our liver, and it has some very important jobs. One of those jobs being to detox and cleanse the body of any toxins. Our liver helps digest, absorb, and process the foods that we eat, along with filtering our blood that comes in through our digestive tract before it returns to our bloodstream.
Liver’s a pretty cool guy and has been doing his job efficiently for quite some time! Before you jump to a detox or 5-day juice cleanse after eating something tasty, just remember that your body is working with you, everything will be quite alright, and if you stick to your balanced diet with plenty of nutrients – you will feel back to normal soon.
#7 – Comparing Yourself, Your Meals, & Brands
There has definitely been a shift on social media; we’re becoming open to honestly, authenticity, and imperfection, and aware of the “highlight reel.” From the time I started blogging, social media (Instagram) was really hard for me. I literally watched the fitness world build and exceed everyones expectations. I truly believe that this uprise is what started the whole healthy eating trend for companies and brought serious awareness to the obesity epidemic. Although this is great and encouraging millions of people to get “fit,” it is also the cause of many eating disorders, anxiety, and body image dysmorphia.
I’ve kept it very real about my past with social media and I am 100% not afraid to admit that I couldn’t handle it. I couldn’t watch another fitness video of a girl with my “dream body” and actually feel good about my self. I found myself in a very judgmental, jealous, and self-scrutinizing place that I absolutely hated. I became very sensitive to what was being posted, liked, or shared; I was obsessed with numbers, likes, and followers. I had to completely eliminate myself from the situation and practically isolate myself to truly find what mattered to me.
The experience made me grow as a person, and it also made me see the truth behind social media. It showed me that I can and do love it – but from a distance. I learned to set boundaries on what I should and should not post, who I should follow and whether or not it’s because I’m inspired or envious of them.
As much as we think this can only happen in the fitness industry, I’m seeing it just as frequently in the foodie and nutrition-gram. There are a handful of times that I’ve actually caught myself feeling guilty or jealous of not posting, or not posting something that could’ve had more likes. Although I catch myself and take a step back; many of us don’t and will follow the same path that I did a few years ago.
Influencers are now a thing and I think many of us aspire to be one as well, which is awesome. But, it’s really important to remember who you are and what your truth is. It’s so easy to be persuaded into buying a certain brand of chips, drinking a certain kind of tea, or even styling a food photo a certain way just because someone with 50k+ followers does it. I’ve come across tons of accounts that look exactly the same because they simply just want likes, followers, and free stuff. If you have a message for the world, something that you truly believe can help hundreds of other women, don’t be afraid of only having 500 followers and an average of 30 likes. Chances are, those 500 followers are way more loyal than that other girl’s thousands.
Be you, eat the foods that actually like and make you feel good, and if you want to take a picture along the way – do it. Your social media presence should compliment your lifestyle, not dictate it or change it to fit the mold.