8 Nutrition Mistakes Even Smart & Healthy People Make

by - 4:23 AM

Trying to eat healthy is hard - there’s no question about it. With a plethora of conflicting information and pseudoscience in the health industry, it’s no wonder you’re often left feeling confused and fed-up. Nutritionists often see clients with great intentions who believe they are making good food choices, but are falling into common traps when it comes to healthy eating.

Here are eight of the the most common mistakes even healthy people make:

1. Drinking sugary juices

Sugar is the biggest enemy of a healthy diet. The top source of sugar in western diets is sweetened beverages. This largely in the form of sodas, but can subtly sneak into your life in the disguise of being healthy: a delicious juice.
Juices can often have as much sugar as a can of cola and the over-processing of many commercial juices reduces many of the nutrients anyway. Starting your morning with a cup full of sugar is not a great idea!

2. Trusting labels too much

Food manufacturers want you to buy their products, and they will do anything to help you reduce the guilt you may otherwise feel when buying it. ‘Low-fat’, ‘Low-sugar’, ‘100% natural’, ‘no added…’ and a healthy brand name are all marketing gimmicks to get you to buy without looking at what is actually in the product. Some of these products may still be good for you, but be sure to read the labels of your supermarket products to make sure they are made up of natural foods. A good rule of thumb is, if there are ingredients on the label that you don’t recognise or contain numbers (E620 etc), don’t buy it. Look for minimally processed and as close to natural state as possible.

3. Not eating fat

Healthy fats are essential for many processes in the body and required for optimum health. Contrary to the now outdated belief that a low fat diet is healthy, research shows that fats are a key part of a weight loss diet. Fats are satiating, meaning that you feel fuller for longer after eating a meal, which reduces the chances of you snacking between meals. Fats are also needed for absorption of fat soluble vitamins (A, D, E, K). For example, eating a salad without a fat source (eg. dressing) means you miss out on the vegetables’ fat-soluble vitamins and a host of antioxidants that require fat to be absorbed. By not eating fat with your meal, you’re missing a whole range of great nutrients. Make sure you eat your salad with oil-based dressing (such as olive oil), nuts, seeds or avocado to increase the nutrients you absorb and make your meal more satiating.

4. Drinking sports drinks

Much like juices, sports drinks are loaded with sugars. Realistically, the only people that ‘need’ sports drinks are professional athletes who lose an enormous amount of electrolytes during intense sessions. Even then, you can consume electrolytes in other forms.

5. Taking supplements with caffeine

Caffeine such as in your morning coffee can reduce your body’s ability to absorb many vitamins and minerals that people are often supplementing, including calcium, iron, B-vitamins and vitamin D. And remember that tea, coke and many other beverages contain caffeine. Try moving your morning coffee to a few hours before or after you take your daily supplement to reduce the effects of caffeine on absorption.

6. Eating whole flax seeds

If you’re eating whole flax seeds the majority will pass through your stomach undigested, which means you’ll miss out on the health benefits (including omega-3 fats, fiber and lignans (antioxidants)). Grind your own flax seeds (or buy them ground) and store in the fridge in a dark or covered container (as they oxidise easily in heat and light).

7. Eating too much red meat

In western society, meat eating is ingrained as an integral part of our culture. It has been proven that red meat (and particularly processed meats) are not only bad for your cholesterol and blood pressure, but are also carcinogenic. Most national health advisory boards recommend red meat no more than 2-3 times per week. Of course, you can get your protein from other sources, like these protein rich key lime pie energy balls.

8. Making unhealthy smoothies

Smoothies are a great way to squeeze in fruit (and sometimes even frozen veg) as well as supplements and protein. However, it’s easy to slip into the trap of loading your smoothie up with unhealthy stuff - sugars (too much fruit), full-cream milk and even ice cream (sometimes). My little secret: coconut water!

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