You exercise regularly, eat your fruits and veggies and never miss an annual exam—and it’s paying off.
You look and feel great! But even though you’re fit and healthy right now, that doesn’t necessarily mean your daily so-called “good” habits will help you maintain your well being into the future. Read on to learn about the mistakes you may be making, and how you can avoid them. Your future self is sure to thank you!
You stay hydrated but…you drink your water out of a plastic bottle.
You know how important it is to stay hydrated, which is why you’re never seen without a bottle of Poland Spring by your side. While we commend you for getting your daily dose of H20, you should seriously consider trading your throw-away bottle for the reusable, BPA-free variety. Bisphenol A, commonly referred to as BPA, can negatively impact fertility in both men and women and has also been been linked to obesity. Don’t believe it? The science doesn’t lie: A 2011 Harvard study found that adults with the highest concentration of BPA in their urine had significantly larger waists and chance of being obese than those in the lowest quartile.
You don’t “stress eat” at the office but…you don’t take time to decompress after work.
You manage to avoid the office candy bowl, which is pretty impressive—especially on super stressful days—but you’ve got to let off some steam somehow. If you don’t, it could lead to chronically elevated cortisol levels, causing sleep and immunity problems, blood-sugar abnormalities and weight gain. How should you chillax? Lori Zanini, RD, CDE, Spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics says stress relief is very individualized, so what helps your BFF relax may not work for you. Give a few different tactics a try and see what works best for you. Practicing yoga, meeting up with friends and unplugging from technology for an evening are all things Zanini says are worth a shot.
You eat a healthy dinner but…you don’t go to sleep early enough.
We give you props for making the time to cook up a healthy meal, but if you stay up late at night buried in a book or your Facebook feed, you may be counteracting some of your hard work in the kitchen. According to the National Sleep Foundation, most of us don’t get enough shut eye. Over time, this can lead to weight gain, anxiety, depression and insulin resistance—which can trigger type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease. On the other hand, a good night’s rest fuels the production of fat-burning hormones, so logging a solid seven or eight hours of shut eye each evening should be a priority, especially if you’re trying to maintain a healthy weight or drop a few pounds.
You don’t stray from your new diet but…you don’t compensate for its nutritional restrictions.
If you’ve just hopped on the Paleo or low-carb bandwagon, proceed with caution! “Often diets that cut out entire food groups do not allow for the balance and moderation we need to follow a healthy, lifelong eating plan,” warns Zanini. “Plus, dieters who follow these plans may be prone to potentially dangerous nutritional deficiencies. Or they may simply get bored with their restricted plan and end up overeating down the road,” warns Zanini.
You make home-cooked meals but…your portions are bigger than a restaurant’s.
Just because your meal is healthy doesn’t mean you don’t have to practice portion control. Remember, even virtuous foods have calories! Half of your plate should be filled with veggies and the remaining half should hold a cellphone-sized serving of lean protein, a fist-sized serving of grains and a bit of fat no larger than the size of your pointer finger.
You go to the doctor but…you don’t get tested for nutritional deficiencies.
Although you may get scanned for high cholesterol or diabetes at your annual exam, M.D.s don’t typically test or look for physical signs of nutritional deficiencies—which can be dangerous! Michelle Loy, MPH, MS, CSSD, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and owner of Go Wellness in Orange County, California suggests having your vitamin D levels checked if nothing else. “Many people are deficient and don’t even know it—and not getting enough may increase the risk of osteoporosis, heart disease and certain types of cancer,” she warns.
You steer clear of trans fats but…you keep healthy fats off your plate, too.
You know that eating trans fats can increase your risk of heart disease, weight gain and stroke, so you’re smart to stay away. But not all fats need to make your “do not eat” list. Consuming healthy fats like flax seeds and nuts can actually help you slim down and stay healthy. “Fats not only help us absorb many of the vitamins from our diets, but they also help keep us fuller longer, which can aid weight loss efforts,” explains Zanini. She suggests consuming one serving of healthy fats each time you sit down to eat. This could be 1/4 cup of almonds or walnuts, some sautéed veggies cooked with a tablespoon of olive oil or a few slices of avocado.
You order a virtuous-sounding restaurant dish but…you don’t ask how it’s cooked.
Chefs often add fat and salt to make meals taste better—but these ingredients aren’t necessarily something they advertise on the menu. Since you’ve already taken such care to choose a meal that sounds healthy, take the extra step and ask your server if there is any cream or butter in your dish. If these is, ask for your veggies and meats to be cooked dry and have sauces come on the side so you control how much ends up on your plate. After crunching the numbers, we discovered that no matter what kind of restaurant you’re dining at, you can save up to 1,000 calories at each meal by making this simple request!
You watch your calorie intake but…you ignore sodium.
Your favorite trail mix only has 150-calories, but did you check to see how much sodium is lurking inside the package? All too often, those who aren’t suffering from a health condition overlook that part of the nutrition label. “Americans consume, on average, about 50 percent more than the daily recommended intake of salt, and most of the excess sodium is coming from processed foods like frozen waffles, bagels, cheese cottage cheese, veggie burgers and salad dressings,” says Loy. Sticking to The Institute of Medicine’s daily recommendation of 2,300 milligrams per day or less can help you keep a bloated belly, high blood pressure and other health conditions at bay.
You choose “diet” treats but…you never indulge in the real deal.
If every time you have a cookie craving you buy a low-fat package, you may be doing your body a disservice. Not only are diet foods typically filled with enough sugar to derail even the most disciplined dieter, but these faux sweet treats are also made with additives that can make you feel unsatisfied. In turn, you’ll likely consume far more calories than you intended. To stay trim, eat the real thing, but downsize your portion. If you love ice cream, for example, skip the fro-yo and have a small scoop of premium.
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