How to Fix These Common Diet Blunders
We’ve all made decisions about the food we eat in the name of better health – and that’s great! The importance of a balanced, nutritious diet cannot be overstated. However, with all the information floating around on the internet regarding nutrition, it’s possible that you may have picked up a couple of not-so-great practices over the years. Here, we’re highlighting six common nutrition mistakes you might be making and what you can do instead to get back on track.
By Mary Beth Wallace
1. Focusing on calories over quality.
Yes, the amount of food you eat in a day matters. But hyper-focusing on calories distracts you from what you should be focusing on – food quality. Loading up your plate with a balance of fiber, protein, and fat and prioritizing whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and lean meats are much better uses of your time than counting every calorie. If you’re filling up on the right nutrient-dense foods (and watching your portion sizes), then you should be consuming the right number of calories for you, naturally.
2. Not eating enough fat.
If you’ve been stocking up on low-fat products for decades, or if you refuse to keep peanut butter in the house, then this is one mistake you need to fix – stat. Healthy fats, including monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, are an important part of a healthy diet; they provide your body with energy and help you stay fuller, longer. They also lower your risk of heart disease and stroke. So, go ahead: Add that avocado to your salad, toss some chia seeds in your oatmeal, and dip that spoon straight into the peanut butter jar.
3. Waiting until you’re starving to eat.
No one likes to reach “hangry” status, a byproduct of ignoring those early hunger cues. Not only are you more likely to eat everything in sight when you finally break for a meal, but you’re also less likely to choose the most nutritious options. Of course, one way to make sure you’re getting enough fuel is to not skip meals. In fact, it’s been said that eating five or six small meals throughout the day is one of the best ways to control hunger and keep you satiated – and operating at your fullest potential.
4. Eliminating entire food groups.
When dieting or attempting to drop pounds, a popular method to try is cutting back on certain foods, even entire food groups. Dairy is perhaps the most common food group for dieters to ditch, but many grains – even the whole-grain variety – are also often avoided in order to “cut back on carbs.” Unless you have a food allergy, there really isn’t a need to nix any food group. In the case of dairy, you’ll be depriving yourself of important nutrients, including calcium, magnesium, and protein; similarly, carbohydrates such as whole-wheat bread and other whole grains can help you meet your nutrition goals.
5. Not drinking enough water.
This one is a little more obvious. You know you should be drinking more water, but it’s easier said than done. Neglecting your water intake can lead to dehydration and cause your metabolism to drag. You also might mistake thirst for hunger, meaning that you can end up consuming more food than you actually need. Plus, drinking more water will replace other drinks (think soda and juice) that could be adding extra sugar to your diet. A good rule of thumb is aiming to have a glass of water with every meal and snack throughout the day.
6. Avoiding canned and frozen foods.
We get it – fresh food just tastes better sometimes. It’s hard to beat a juicy, ripe tomato in the middle of summer or a crisp apple come autumn. But limiting yourself to only fresh, in-season produce will have you missing out on some important nutrients. Don’t overlook the convenience of canned and frozen foods. Canned beans and tomatoes, as well as frozen berries, veggies, and wild-caught fish, are all excellent sources of the vitamins and minerals your body needs to function at its best.