5 Nutrition Mistakes Even Healthy People Make

# 1: Fred Flintstone Steak Portions.

Many people are cutting back on carbs and in the process increasing consumption of red and processed meat. However, eating large amounts of red meat has been associated with increased risk of colorectal cancers, liver, kidney and heart disease as well as diabetes. Processed meat has been classed by the World Health Organization as a group 1 carcinogen. This mean there is sufficient evidence from epidemiological studies that eating processed meat causes colorectal cancer.

Answer – You don’t have to go full-vegetarian, however, aim to swap out some of the steak for salmon, lentils or even white meat like chicken and turkey. Reduce your serving size of red meat from Flintstone portions to about 3-4 ounce portions (90-120 grams). Avoid processed meat as much as possible. More info on red and processed meat here.

#2: The Great Juice Hustle

Freshly squeeze juice is big business these days. But remember the process of juicing removes the juice from the pulp or the fibre. Why is that important? Well, without the fibre you are drinking liquid sugar with a smattering of vitamins. The fibre from fruit slows down the absorption of the naturally occurring sugars so we avoid the blood sugar rollercoaster. Fibre also helps keep us satisfied for longer.

Answer –  Eat whole fruit but if you really want a juice stick to small vegetable juices, which are much lower in sugar. A 6 ounce kale, cucumber and ginger would fit the bill. Finally, don’t think your veggie consumption is done for the day. Fill half your plate with a variety of vegetables for lunch and dinner to maximize your anti-oxidant and fibre intake.

# 3: OD on Protein Powder

The more the better right? Wrong. Our bodies can only absorb between 20-30g of protein from a single meal. Adding scoops and scoops of protein powder to your smoothie will not increase muscle mass. Excess protein, will simply get turned into energy for fuel or stored as fat.

Answer- Protein powder can be a helpful supplement for athletes, those with high caloric needs, the elderly, those recovering from illness or surgery and those with very restrictive diets. For everyone else it’s probably not necessary. Ideally you want to get your nutrients from whole foods not from altered food substances or supplements.

However, if you are in the habit of throwing in a scoop of good quality protein powder in your morning smoothie, that is fine, just ensure that the total amount of protein in that meal (including yogurt, milk, hemp seeds etc) tops out at around 30 grams.

#4: Swap Out Junk Food For: Organic, Vegan, Free-Range, Gluten-Free, Local, Junk Food.

Just because you bought it at an organic grocery store, doesn’t make it healthy. Marketers are very savvy at making processed foods look like nutritious options. The words “vegan” and “gluten-free” have become synonymous with “healthy”. Leaving true celiacs and gluten-intolerant people out of the equation, fluffy white gluten free baked goods are simply high glycemic carbohydrates that use gluten-free flour like rice or potato starch in place of wheat, barley or rye. They are still fluffy white baked goods with very few nutrients that will spike your blood sugar. Further, wheat is fortified with nutrients that are lost during processing; however, most other grains are not. Therefore, you may be avoiding gluten but in the process eating a less nutritious option.

Vegan foods have no animal products in them; however, butter may be swapped out for hydrogenated oils which are laden with trans-fats. Other vegan items include soy protein isolate which is a highly processed form of soy and, if it’s not organic, then it is likely from a genetically modified soybeans.

Answer- While whole foods are best, for the times you want a packaged product aim for the most minimally processed foods. Ignore the health claims on the front and read the black and white Nutrition Facts on the back to really assess how healthy or otherwise the product is. Avoid products with unpronouceables ingredients -butylhydroquinone anyone? Minimally processed foods would include roasted nuts and chickpeas, single serving cheese, a little more processed but still quite good, would be Mary’s Gone Crackers.

#5 Going “Sugar Free” – But Not Really.

I often hear people claim that they have gone “sugar-free” but continue to sweeten their tea and oatmeal with heaps of honey. Maple syrup, honey and coconut palm sugar are less refined forms of sugar. They retain some nutrients, although quite minimal, compared to table sugar. However, our body treats these sugars in much the same way as regular sugar. That means they will still trigger an insulin surge that eventually leads to low blood sugar, fatigue, brain fog, irritability and hunger, or “hangry” for short. For more info on different types of sugar see: Are There Any Good Kinds of Sugar.

Answer – If you want to give up sugar or at least try to keep it to a maximum of 5% of your daily calories, then cut back on all forms of sugar. You can train your taste buds to crave less sweet things. Start by weaning yourself off sweet drinks and enjoy fresh fruit like blueberries and strawberries when a sweet craving hits. Brushing your teeth is another little trick to get you through the white-knuckle period.

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