We made resolutions to stay fit and be more health conscious in 2015. Now that we are nearly three months in to the new year, do you feel like you’re doing everything right but aren’t seeing the results you want? Let’s chat about five possible ways you may be holding yourself back from reaching those health goals. And we also want to help with a few tips and tricks—by making a few simple changes, you can live a healthier lifestyle (and achieve those results). Read on for five common health missteps we may be guilty of from time to time. And how to fix them!
1. Overeating “healthy” food
But it’s “healthy!” Just because something is healthy doesn’t mean it’s OK to eat the entire package. Believe me, I’ve used this excuse to justify eating ten cookies because they were vegan and gluten free. Healthy foods can have calories too; healthy isn’t a free ticket to eat a family-size portion. Sometimes it isn’t as obvious as an entire package of cookies either.
So you think your morning smoothie is super healthy? By the time you’ve added vanilla almond milk, yogurt, and a spoonful of almond butter, your “healthy” smoothie calories end up equal to a milkshake. Imagine all those smoothie ingredients spread out on a plate; imagine yourself eating all of them for breakfast. If it seems excessive to eat it all in whole form, then maybe it’s too much food to blend and drink too.
2. Too many secret sugars
Cutting back on sugar is all the rage at the moment and for good reason. The huge amounts of sugar in a standard diet is making us gain weight and grow bigger as a population; fat doesn’t make us fat, sugar does. You need to be aware of the overall amount of sugars you are eating—maple syrup, honey, agave, coconut sugar, evaporated cane juice, sugar in the raw and fruit juice are just a few of the culprits. Remember, sugar is sugar to the body.
My advice? Read the ingredients! You will be amazed where sugar is lurking—in hummus, tomato sauce, soups, bread, crackers, store bought sauces, cereal, and granola (just to name a few). I know it can be frustrating when you think you are making all the right dietary choices and your goal results aren’t happening. Sugar may be your roadblock. If you are unknowingly eating hidden sugars at every meal it’s hard to reach your goals. Reading labels and swapping a sugar filled option for one without sugar will make a difference.
Tip: Beware of “sugar free” labels; natural sugar is replaced by artificial sweeteners (way worse).
3. Eating “fat free”
Poor old fat. It’s been given such a bad rap because we thought eating fat would make us fat. Now we know better (see above). We need healthy fats in our diet for healthy hair, skin, nails and most importantly, brain function. Plus, fat makes our food taste good and keeps us full and satisfied.
Sadly, many times the food industry removes fat (leaving food tasteless) and replaces it with sugar for added flavor. Even worse, they add artificial sweeteners instead of natural sugars to food (which come with a whole long list of nasty side effects). You may not be eating as much fat with low fat and fat free foods, but you will be eating more sugar. You are better off eating more healthy fats and full fat products instead of the low fat and fat free versions.
Yogurt is a prime example. Eat full fat Greek yogurt with fresh fruit rather than a low fat/fat free option loaded with sugar and artificial sweeteners. Read the labels and see for yourself! Remember, fat satiates you and makes you feel full and satisfied. If you don’t believe me, try it! Other healthy fats to include in your diet: avocados, nuts, seeds, salmon, mackerel, sardines, and healthy oils like coconut oil and olive oil. Eat more fat and less sugar.
4. You think it’s healthy (but it’s really not)
Just because you bought it at the health food store doesn’t mean it’s healthy. Same goes for organic or gluten free products. I know, I know, you think it’s a good choice because organic, gluten free must be, right? Not really. Again, read the labels! Sometimes gluten free products have more junk (and extra sugar!) added to them than the full gluten version.
Tip: If the ingredient list has more than eight items, you probably want to put it back on the shelf. The biggest culprit? “Healthy” snack bars. If you don’t recognize the ingredients, put it back on the shelf (or do a quick Google search to find out). If sugar is listed in the ingredients several times in different forms, put it back. Usually your best option is to make a healthy version at home. Try these for easy, healthy snack options:
When you’re craving sweet:
1 date filled with almond butter
Banana soft serve
Freshly squeezed juices: beetroot, carrot, apple, ginger and lemon
Baked sweet potato
Apple slices with almond butter or tahini
When you’re craving salty:
Homemade stovetop popcorn
Homemade guacamole with vegetables for dipping
Edamame with sea salt
Avocado drizzled with lemon juice, sea salt and sprinkled with hemp seeds
Hummus and veggies
Celery topped with all natural organic peanut butter
5. Not sleeping enough
When I’m tired, I grab the easiest, most convenient snack and most likely it won’t be very healthy. Tiredness impairs judgment! Also, when I haven’t gotten enough sleep I crave caffeine; when the caffeine wears off, I want sugar and more caffeine and the cycle repeats itself. It’s hard to be healthy when all you want is a nap!
When you are running on empty it’s hard enough to prepare a healthy breakfast and lunch let alone go to the gym. But with adequate sleep, you will have more energy to put into living a healthy lifestyle. Try logging off all electronics by 10:30 PM and lights out by 11 PM. You get the best quality sleep between 10 PM and 2 AM so it’s important you maximize sleep during these hours. You will feel much better for it, and making healthy choices will be much easier after a good night’s sleep!
Tip: Try making breakfast at night so you can grab a few extra minutes of shuteye in the morning!
Remember, don’t feel as though you have to make all of these change overnight. Small and doable changes will eventually become long lasting routines. If you can eliminate one of the five above each week for the next few weeks, in one month’s time, you will be closer to your results! And, ultimately, living a healthier lifestyle.