If you want to improve or maintain your health, you might be surprised to learn that you’re doing things — things you think are healthy — that get in the way of such goals. You may believe your habits are ideal due to the health trend of the moment or widely-embraced studies that seem to suggest so, but just the opposite may be true. Here are seven habits that you may think are healthy which, in reality, are not at all.
1. You’re always doing a detox
Detoxing, which typically includes juicing but isn’t limited strictly to that way of eating, often involves elimination of foods in an effort to purge toxins from your system. You might have engaged in a detox after a weekend of bad eating or in an effort to shed weight quickly before a big event. Unfortunately, both of those ideas are unhealthy. When practiced regularly, they may make you more inclined to eat poorly afterwards, now that the detox is over and your goal was temporarily met. Therefore, you may continually justify your bad eating habits with the notion that you’ll simply undo unhealthy dietary choices with a get-back-in-shape detox. While detoxes can flush toxins from your body, the reality is that continual engagement in this yo-yo process wreaks havoc on your health because you’re constantly subjecting your body to extremes with hardly any middle ground.
2. You juice all the time
Some people say juicing is great method of delivering nutrients to your body with more immediacy, and that it’s an easy way to obtain foods you otherwise wouldn’t enjoy or take the time to prepare. Others, however, claim that juicing prevents you from getting the full range of nutrients from foods, since it often leaves behind fiber-rich pulp. They also say that just one juice can vastly increase your caloric intake. For example, pineapple has about 83 calories per cup. To enjoy a juice made from fresh pineapple, you’d end up consuming more of the fruit to create one cup, which comes in at around 120 calories.
The general thought is that it’s best to provide your body with a range of foods and in a variety of forms: juiced, blended, steamed, baked, roasted, and so on. A strict juicing lifestyle has the potential to interfere with muscle mass, metabolism and nutrient absorption.
3. You exercise excessively
Unless you’re training for a marathon or are a pro-athlete, excessive gym time can be incredibly harsh on your body and mind. Not only can it result in serious muscle tears (beyond what normally occurs), but not taking it easy enough prevents your body from getting the internal repairs it needs.
Mentally, you need a break too. When I lost a great deal of weight, I admit that I became obsessed with the gym. I’m here to tell you that doing so — along with my less than healthy eating patterns — not only left me too thin, but drained my mind and my relationships. Fitness is important, but if it’s something you obsess about then you may be jeopardizing your physical and mental health.
4. You go on a diet
It’s my belief that going on a diet is more psychological than anything else; thinking in terms of going on a diet conveys a succinct start and end time that can lead to the return of unhealthy eating habits. Furthermore, many diets are filled with foods that are so limiting that you may experience significant setbacks if you fall off track even slightly. Diets are often full of deprivation and challenges that can get in the way of weight loss.
You can improve your mindset by couching your improved ways of eating in terms of a lifestyle change instead of being on a diet. Let go of the “d” word and focus on the fact that you’re doing something good for the long haul.
5. You drink too much wine
Many people tend to gravitate towards a glass of wine (or two) at the end of the day to relax. Or, they cling tightly to studies that indicate the health benefits of wine and end up going overboard. In that case, experts say that these findings shouldn’t be your green light to indulge in a bottle of red wine nightly. Instead, the recommended intake is a glass a day for women and two glasses daily for men. It’s no secret that too much alcohol can lead to headaches or risky behaviors that can harm emotional and physical health, so go easy on your intake.
6. Diet soda’s a part of your daily routine
If you reach for diet soda because the word “diet” sounds healthy and you enjoy the low or zero-calorie promise, you’re harming your health in the long run. They’re packed with unhealthy sugar alternatives such as aspartame, which have been found to break down in the body with very unhealthy results. Dizziness, headaches and even brain tumors are said to be linked to ingestion of aspartame, which sweetens all of those diet sodas (and other diet products). Additionally, artificial sweeteners have been found to increase your food cravings, fueling your appetite for items that can throw weight loss or weight maintenance efforts off track.
7. You focus mostly on low-fat foods
Although eating low-fat foods has been ingrained in people’s heads as a healthy choice, this notion is fast becoming a thing of the past. Low-fat foods may not have as many calories, but they often make up for that so-called benefit by having a high sugar content or using artificial sweeteners which isn’t healthy. The bottom line is that your body needs fat to function optimally. At the very least, your body needs fat to absorb vitamins and nutrients. Therefore, it’s healthy to enjoy whole foods such as yogurts and milk, or to cook with extra virgin olive oils (instead of eating meals that only carry low-fat labels or omit healthy fats).