Think you’re always making the best choices for your health? Here are some common health mistakes many of us don’t know we’re making.
1. Training hard every day.
Working out hard isn’t always going to get you the results you’re after, especially if you’re not giving your body time to rest and recover. You’ll give your body adequate rest of you get enough sleep and spend time away from training. Proper recovery on the other hand comes down to techniques like stretching and self-myofascial release that are used to maximise your body’s repair either before or after training. Rest and recovery are a must in any training program to ensure you perform at your best and continue to improve.
Healthy Habit: Plan your weekly training sessions to include more than just high intensity workouts. While hard workouts fantastic for health and fitness benefits, your body also needs to be balanced out with some rest and recovery. Follow intense workouts with stretches, and make one day a rest day where you include lower intensity activities like yoga or a gentle walk. Finally, make sure you get adequate sleep each night.
2. Loading up on raw goodies
Raw foods have become one of the latest wellness trends as people try to minimise their intake of processed foods in a bid to improve their health. By loading up on plant foods, you’ll up your fibre intake and limit your intake of nasties such as saturated fat, added sugar and salt. In theory this may sound ideal, but large helpings of raw caramel slice made with lashings of coconut oil, dates, tahini and maple syrup won’t do your waistline or your health any favours. It’s also not a suitable breakfast option!
Healthy Habit: Whether your treats are raw or cooked, make sure you keep them as just that – treats! Enjoy them occasionally, in portion-controlled amounts and remember they’re definitely not a suitable breakfast option.
3. Doing too much
Many of us try to squeeze too much into our day. A heavy workload combined with personal commitments and a hectic to-do list leaves little time to focus on the healthy habits like preparing nutritious foods and taking time out to recharge. These healthy habits are important for both mental and physical health. Failing to dedicate time just for you actually leads to poor performance, reduced productivity and ill-health.
Healthy habit: identify what is really important to you and only include the most important tasks. Reduce the demands in your day by getting rid of any tasks that aren’t completely necessary. Become more productivity by taking breaks throughout the day and at the end of the day take some time out to unwind.
4. Downing large smoothies just because they’re green
No wonder green smoothies are the latest health craze – they’re easy to whip up and contain a range of super ingredients like kale, spinach and celery. But along with veggies, fruit and milk, it’s common to also find a range of high-kilojoule additions like honey, peanut butter, chocolate, flavoured syrups and ice cream. These rich additions mean the smoothies are too high in kilojoules to be a suitable snack option, while research has also linked them to enamel erosion, particularly when consumed between meals.
Healthy Habit: Smoothies can be a great option when they are made with natural or Greek yoghurt, milk, fresh fruit, seeds and leafy greens, but when made with coconut water, coconut oil and loads of fruit, you’ll be consuming too much sugar and fat, and minimal protein. The best option is to make your own smoothie so that you know exactly what goes into it and keep your teeth happy by drinking it at meal times.
5. Eating only high-protein, low-carb snacks
If you believe the hype, then carbs are evil and anything with the words protein on it must be a good option. Whether it’s protein balls, bars, shakes or brownies, the latest foodie trend is to feast on protein at all times. But if you’re trying to get the most out of your workout, you’ll need more than protein – carbohydrates give you the energy you need to succeed. If you flip over your protein-loaded snack to check out the nutrition information, you might be shocked to find that most are highly processed with artificial ingredients, cheap fillers and sugar alcohols to provide their sweet taste.
Healthy Habit: If you’re going to achieve your fitness goals, forgot the hype and realise it’s not all about protein. Good quality carbohydrates like brown rice, oats and quinoa provide your body with fuel, while you can adequately meet your protein requirements by including foods sources like lean meat, skinless chicken, eggs, fish, legumes, nuts and dairy products with all meals and snacks.
6. Taking supplements mean you can eat what you like
Each morning you wash down your multivitamin, fish oil tablets and probiotics with a tonic, before recovering from your workout with a protein shake. In between taking these pills and potions you find yourself skipping meals and chowing down on burgers and fries because you feel the supplements are giving you everything you need. But it doesn’t matter how many supplements you take, for optimal health your body needs real food. A pill or potion cannot deliver all the antioxidants and nutrients found in food.
Healthy Habit: Supplements are designed to do just that; supplement your diet. They should not be the main focus, nor should they be a perceived health fix used to make poor food choices acceptable. To become the healthiest version of yourself, consistently eat a balanced diet with a wide variety of whole foods, and if you need to and your doctor approves it, add in the odd supplement that meets your individual needs.
7. Your recipes are sugar-free
Replacing cane sugar with agave syrup, rice malt syrup, coconut sugar, honey, dates or maple syrup doesn’t make your favourite recipes sugar-free. These ingredients are in fact all alternative options for sweetening your favourite dishes and they’re all in fact sugar. Whether you choose agave syrup, rice malt syrup or maple syrup there isn’t any miraculous health benefits, just sweetness and empty kilojoules.
Health Habit: Small amounts of sugar in your diet are ok. Instead of focusing on the type you are consuming, focus on the amount. Aim for natural sugars in the form of fruit, yoghurt and milk, while reducing the amount of added sugars you consume.
About the author
Caitlin Reid is a unique health professional with qualifications as an accredited nutritionist, accredited exercise physiologist and yoga teacher. Caitlin is passionate about all things health and wellness, and keeps up-to-date with the latest health research, which she uses when contributing expert advice to health, fitness, lifestyle and food companies. She is also the nutrition expert for the Women’s Fitness magazine, the dietitian for the South Sydney Rabbitohs and ambassador for Papaya Australia. Follow Caitlin on Instagram @caitlinareid or visit her website.