As a health coach, I have had dozens of people provide me with their definitions of “healthy living” and “healthy eating”. Although they’ve made an appointment with me, these people are pretty sure they have most things health figured out and are proud to share the rules they have imposed on their kitchens. The problem is, the difference between good and bad eating habits isn’t aways black and white.
It’s easy to get caught up and confused by the overload of information about nutrition out there, especially because some of it is contradictory. Enchanted by the latest celebrity endorsement or buzzword of the day, well-intentioned dieters easily make misguided decisions, setting rules and restrictions based on good intentions but not actual science. Here are the health traps I see people fall into most often, habits that actually aren’t all that healthy in the long run.
1. The Fat Fearers
Yes, large amounts of saturated fats found in steaks and candy bars can increase your risk for cardiac events, but don’t forget the good fats! “Low-fat” products simply replace the fat with more chemicals and sugar and should be avoided in favor of full-fat options. It’s also smart to add in more healthy fats like those found in avocado, olive oil, and flax seeds to feel full and satisfied with each meal.
2. The Cheating Vegetarian/Vegan
No question that a plant-based diet is a safe bet for overall health. More and more people are experimenting with vegetarianism and veganism and that is wonderful! But did you know products like Oreos are vegan? A lot of new vegans do—and they’re filling up on them! The idea behind vegetarian and vegan diets is to have most all of your food sources come from natural fruits, veggies, beans, legumes, seeds, and good fats (with the occasional cookies of course!). Eating packaged junk like mac & cheese and veggie pizza means you avoid meat, but these diets don’t satisfy the plant-based foods requirement. To do this diet right, make one of our meat free recipes, like these delicious vegetarian stuffed peppers.
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Running a marathon is serious business, which is why most competitive runners have an unflagging game face. (After all, any extra effort—like that needed to muster up a smile—might zap important energy stores!) But it’s hard not to grin when you get a look at the ridiculous signs held by fans, many of which refer to the gross things that can happen during long distance runs. All those banners about diarrhea and going number 2 while running down a crowded street? Well, they’re funny because they’re true.
However, stomach cramps, sprints to the port-potties, and worse don’t actually need to be a part of your marathon plan, according to Colette Heimowitz, MS, VP of Nutrition and Education at Atkins.
“Carb loading for cardio endurance can help you have energy, but it has side-effects,” says Heimowitz. “You have to take in so many carbs right before an event that runners get so many to intestinal upsets.” Even worse, she says, most runners who rely on carbs for their energy tap their stores well before end.
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Aimee E. Raupp is the author of Chill Out and Get Healthy– a no nonsense guide for women on improving their health now. As well she is a licensed acupuncturist and Chinese herbalist with a masters of science in Traditional Oriental Medicine. For more information visit AimeeRaupp.com.
Eat fat to lose fat
Yes, you heard me: eat fat to lose fat.
“But, isn’t fat is bad for my health? And, doesn’t it cause heart disease?” I hear you say. The answer to both is no.
For many centuries, cultures (like the French) have been eating high fat diets and, oddly enough, they have much lower rates of obesity and type II diabetes than we do here in the United States. You see, what happened was back in the 1950’s some scientists ran a small and very poorly designed study looking at the incidence of heart disease and the dietary habits of different nations. Somehow (after leaving out a great bit of data) these researchers determined that Americans hearty full-fat diet caused the most heart disease. And, voila now American’s eat a low-fat diet because their doctors recommend it.
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High nutrient and whole foods: FOR THE WIN! A recent study was conducted to evaluate the effects of diet on cholesterol. It was observed that people who ate food such as nuts, soy, avocado, olive oil, and oats saw a greater drop in cholesterol than those who maintained a low-fat diet.
A 6-month study was conducted in four different locations in Canada. Two groups of participants were selected and all had elevated cholesterol levels. One group was put on a diet that included foods believed to improve heart health, yet were high in healthy fats. The other group was placed on a diet that emphasized low-fat foods, including whole grains and high-fiber options.
The first group obtained their food list from a US Food and Drug Administration list. This list contained approved suggestions for better heart health. Foods on that list included olive oil, avocado, oatmeal, soy, tofu, beans, lentils, almonds, hazelnuts, peanuts, pecans, pistachios, and walnuts. Many of these foods contain high fat levels. However, they are natural and healthy fats.
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