Although a healthy diet doesn’t have to be complicated or confusing, people often make a few of the same common mistakes when trying to eat healthier. These mistakes can take a toll on both your wallet and your waistline while also slowing your progress and keeping you from reaching your goals. Here are a few healthy eating mistakes you may be making, along with some simple strategies to correct them.
1. Filling Up on Processed Foods
From low-fat salad dressings to low-calorie convenience meals, there are tons of “diet” products stocking the shelves of your local supermarket. However, just because something is marketed as “healthy” doesn’t mean that that’s always necessarily the case. In fact, many of these processed foods are actually loaded with additives, preservatives, and artificial flavorings, all of which can negate any potential health benefits that they may claim to offer.
Next time you hit the store, try shopping around the perimeter and filling your cart with mostly nutrient-dense, whole foods. Ditch the pre-packaged products, frozen ingredients, and fast food whenever possible and focus on fruits, veggies, whole grains, protein foods, and healthy fats instead.
2. Buying Out of Season
One of the most common diet mistakes is buying the same foods all year round. In fact, many people wonder why their grocery bill is so high each month without realizing that they may be buying out-of-season produce. Not only is eating seasonally better for your wallet, but it’s also a great way to support sustainability, decrease your carbon footprint, and add more variety to your diet.
However, this doesn’t mean you need to cut out all fruits and veggies that may not be in season from your diet altogether. Instead, stay informed about what produce is in season and consider swapping out some of your favorites for seasonal alternatives from time to time.
3. Eating Too Much
Although a healthy diet should emphasize quality rather than quantity, being more mindful of your portion size is an important skill when it comes to healthy eating. A protein smoothie, for example, can quickly turn into a calorie bomb if you go overboard with calorie-dense ingredients like nuts, seeds, and fruit. Meanwhile, you may be eating double or triple the recommended serving size for other foods like brown rice or pasta, even without realizing it.
Try measuring your portions for these foods to become more aware of what one serving should actually look like. Another simple strategy that can help you avoid eating too much (or too little!) is to practice mindful eating. This involves minimizing distractions during mealtimes, paying closer attention to the taste, smell, and texture of your food, and learning to listen to your body. In addition to helping you learn to recognize feelings of hunger and satiety, this can also make it much easier to avoid overeating.
4. Forgetting About Beverages
Most of us have a tendency to focus more on what we’re putting on our plate rather than what’s going in our glass. However, even if you’re filling up on healthy, nutrient-dense ingredients during the day, the drinks that you’re choosing could be sabotaging your healthy eating efforts.
Alcoholic drinks, in particular, are high in calories and added sugar yet lacking in essential nutrients like vitamins and minerals. Similarly, sugar-sweetened beverages like juice, soda, and sweet tea are often packed with ingredients like high-fructose corn syrup, which can cause blood sugar levels to spike and crash, leaving you feeling even hungrier than before.
5. Following an Overly Restrictive Diet
Although fad diets often promise big benefits when it comes to weight loss, they can actually do more harm than good when it comes to your health. In fact, following overly restrictive, unhealthy diet plans is one of the biggest mistakes people make. These diets can often leave you feeling hungry and deprived, leading to increased food cravings and a higher risk of overeating.
Instead of cutting out all of your favorite foods, focusing solely on macronutrients, or counting carbs or calories, enjoy a well-rounded diet rich in a variety of nutritious, flavorful ingredients. While you can definitely still indulge in the occasional sweet treat, be sure to enjoy in moderation as part of a healthy, balanced diet.
6. Wasting Food
Healthy eating extends way beyond the foods that you eat. In fact, food waste is a massive problem around the world that should be carefully considered in any healthy eating pattern. Not only can food waste have devastating effects on the environment, but it can also drive up your grocery bill, increase your carbon footprint, and make meal planning much more complicated.
To reduce your food waste, be sure to practice proper food storage, buy only what you need, find new ways to use up or repurpose leftovers, and experiment with food preservation techniques like canning, pickling, or freezing. Additionally, instead of throwing out food scraps, consider composting or try saving leftover veggie scraps to make a homemade broth or stock.
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