Diet Blog

Not-so-healthy healthy habits

Thursday, 13 May 2010

When we start a healthy eating plan, we naturally develop all sorts of rules and guidelines for ourselves. But sometimes what we think are healthy habits are actually doing us more harm than good. The influence of celebrities, the media, friends, and society means that we sometimes make seemingly health-conscious decisions that actually work against our weight loss efforts, rather than helping them. But by learning more about how your body works and listening to advice from nutritionists, you can start to develop better ways of reaching your weight loss goals. 

Here are some of the most common dieting mistakesÖ

Cutting all carbs

One of the most common changes people make to their diet plan to lose weight is cutting out carbs. But although reducing your intake of carbs is a good step towards healthy weight loss, people often take it too far, and it usually backfires. Cutting all carbs out of your diet will leave you with no energy, making you tired and irritable and less able to exercise effectively. Plus, depriving yourself means you are more likely to binge. So instead of banning all carbs, try to focus on limiting refined or highly processed carbs, such as white breads and pasta. Experts suggest eating a minimum of 130 grams in carbs each day, so make this up with whole grain breads and cereals, and fruits and vegetables.

Overexercising

When you start a new fitness plan, it might be tempting to schedule in workouts every single day. But experts recommend taking a break every now and then to let your body recover. Exercising for 30 to 45 minutes, 3 to 4 times a week is plenty for weight loss and overall health and fitness. Listen to your body. If you feel overtired or in pain, then you need to give yourself time to rest. Schedule in a balanced amount of exercise, alternating cardio activities with other exercises like yoga, pilates, walking, or weight training. Respond to your bodyís needs and keep your fitness plan fresh and interesting, with time for rest.

Overloading on juice

Obviously, juice is a better choice than soft drinks, but be careful- this healthy option isnít quite as healthy as it seems. The process of juicing a fruit removes most of the dietary fibre and concentrates the sugar content. Itís much better to eat a piece of fruit and drink water. Try to limit your intake of juice to around 250ml a day. If youíre a fan of juice bars like Boost, ask for the child-size cup to make sure youíre not overloading on fruit sugars.

Avoiding fruit

On the other hand, donít avoid fruit altogether. Many people cut it out of their diets completely with the belief that it has too much sugar. While fresh fruit does contain sugar, it also has a lot of good stuff- dietary fibre, water, vitamins and minerals- and in all likelihood, itís going to be the healthier option than whatever other snack you would eat instead. 

Not eating after 6pm

Itís a favourite of Hollywood celebrities, but there is no sound evidence to suggest that not eating after 6pm will help you lose weight. Contrary to popular belief, there is no proof that calories consumed late at night are more likely to be stored as fat, and in fact skipping meals has been shown to contribute to weight gain. And at a practical level, avoiding food in the evening is fairly restrictive, especially when you have a family. Try not to snack heavily too late at night, but have a healthy dinner, and remember that balance is the key to healthy weight loss.

Diet soft drinks

Diet soft drinks are obviously a better choice than regular soft drinks. But you should still consume them only in moderation- too much artificial sweetener can actually cause you to crave sweeter foods, so you are more likely to snack on sugary, processed products. Try to make water your staple beverage, and consume other drinks only occasionally- youíll be better hydrated, more energised, and more in control of your cravings. 



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