Even if you are doing your best to maintain a healthy diet, it is generally very difficult to know everything there is to know about proper nutrition. Despite your good intentions, you could end up doing things which could lead to opposing results. With my clients, I've been seeing a set of health mistakes and "diet myths" that I'd like to dispell here.
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It's never pleasant to find out we're wrong, but when we're making a mistake that's conflicting with a desired goal (healthy eating), it can become frustrating. Despite spending significant time, money and sometimes compromise on taste, and giving up a dish you really like just to keep your body healthy, mistakes can be made and health goals can be not achieved.
Knowledge is the best prevention!
Here is a list of some common mistakes that even the most advanced health professionals can make. The good news about these mistakes is that they can be fixed very easily.
Potential Mistake #1: adding whole flax seeds to your breakfast
Flax seeds are enriched with Omega-3, Fiber, and Antioxidants — all great for heart health. However, whole flax seeds are a little difficult to digest and may pass through the digestive system as they are, without being digested and absorbed in the body. This means that you will miss all that good they contain.
The fix? Buy ground flax seeds or grind them in your coffee or spice grinder, or just soak whole flax seeds in liquid for a minimum of 10 minutes to a maximum of overnight.
Potential Mistake #2: health shakes…. a caloric bomb?!
What is easier than throwing a handful of foods into a blender? Some blueberries, chia, cashew butter, kale, bananas, and coconut milk that will turn this paste into a delicious liquid that easily passes through a straw. But these mixes can easily turn a health oar into a calorie bomb.
Try to keep your shakes in the range of 300 calories or less. You will do this by reducing the portions to about 300 ml glasses, using mostly vegetables and fruits, and do not overdo it with the nuts — no matter how tasty they are!
Potential Mistake #3: are you cutting down the oil in your salad?
Vegetables contain vitamins A, E, and K, and antioxidants that are all fat soluble. That is, they should be eaten along with any fat to be soaked up by the body. If you eat a salad without dressing or without oil — you are not actually maximizing the absorption capacity of these vitamins. If you want to make the best of the vegetables you eat, serve your salad with oil-based sauce or add nuts — which also contain fatty acids.
Potential Mistake #4: supplements with your coffee
Caffeine may interfere with your body's ability to absorb some of the vitamins and minerals you wish to instake, including supplements such as Calcium, Iron, B and D vitamins, and more. And by the way, not only is your coffee problematic, also drinks like tea or cola containing caffeine, are equally harmful for absorption!
The fix: make sure to keep an hour gap between your caffeine instake and taking the supplements. Keep is simply and take your supplements with water.
Potential Mistake #5: putting too much trust into labels like "sugar free" or "fat free"
Some food labels are covered with headlines such as "sugar free" and "fat free". But the nutrition that your food does contain is much more important than it being sugar or fat free. Highly processed foods may not contain sugar or fat, but they may contain a high amount of preservatives and distilled ingredients instead. When you look at the labels of the food you are buying, you should prefer those closest to their natural state.
Potential Mistake #6: reducing sugar intake by just eating less fruit
Sweetened drinks are a much higher source of sugar consumption than fruits — so if you're looking to cut out the sugar, focus on processed sugary treats and drinks with added sugar first. In addition, although fruit contains sugar, fruits also contain other nutrients such as vitamins and fiber, while the polluted soft drinks do not have these benefits. It is much easier for us to overdo soft drinks than to eat fruit because they may satisfy us more.
A tip: if you are looking for where to cut sugar, soft drinks are the immediate suspects, not fruits.
Potential Mistake #7: drinking almond milk, without shaking the carton
Equitable milk substitutes made from soy, almonds, cashews, rice, etc. usually contain calcium and vitamin D. These nutrients that are added to the milk are not well assimilated and tend to sink to the bottom of the carton. When you drink the replacement milk without shaking it first, you may miss all these good additions.
Though it may seem far-fetched — don’t forget to give the carton a good shake before pouring!
Potential Mistake #8: yogurt
Yogurt is basically fermented milk, and fermented foods containing probiotic bacteria that are beneficial to the health of our digestive system; they also support our immune system. Therefore, logic suggests that all yogurts are rich in friendly and beneficial bacteria. Right? Well not exactly…
If the yogurt underwent heating or pasteurization, this process damaged its probiotic content. In some of the manufacturers' products, the probiotic bacteria are added back to the products after they have been pasteurized, but not in all of them.
What to look for: look out for yogurt that clearly shows that it contains active bacteria, or look for names of specific bacteria in the list of ingredients such as Lactobacillus Acidophilus and Bollagricus L.
This post was written by London-based nutritionist Chana Nichtburg. She is passionate about helping her clients feel as good as they can through personalised nutrition and lifestyle advice. Get in touch with Chana directly through her profile (click here).
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