Eating well, whether for weight loss or for a generally healthy lifestyle, is definitely one of the best things you can do for your body. That said, you should avoid falling into the following traps when planning your healthy diet.
1. Eating excessively large portions. By reading labels, using a scale, or looking foods up in a smartphone app, you can teach yourself to follow appropriate serving sizes for your favorite foods. For instance, without knowledge of portion sizes, an otherwise healthy salad drowned in four servings of dressing loses its appeal as a sensible meal.
2. Skipping breakfast, lunch or dinner. While skipping a meal might seem like an easy way to save some calories, it isn’t a very healthy habit. Your body needs a regular refueling; without it, your metabolism may suffer as your body tries to “hold on” to its stores of fat. Eating erratically may actually make it more difficult to lose weight, and it can lead to low blood sugar.
3. Cutting out fat completely. Not all fats are created equally, not are they equally unhealthy. Unsaturated fats, such as those found in olive oil, nuts and fish, are quite good for your skin, brain and other functions within the body. Stay away from saturated fats, though. These fats are found in processed foods, butter and meats, and they are more likely to impact your cardiovascular health.
4. Skimping on water. Staying hydrated is an essential part of good nutrition; after all, your body is mostly water. Drink eight to ten glasses of decaffeinated liquids each day to keep your body working efficiently.
5. Living on processed foods. The more handling and preparation a food has experienced, in general, the worse it is for you. Pre-packaged meals and snack foods are often high in saturated fats, sugar, sodium and preservatives. Ideally, most of your diet should come from whole foods like fresh meat, fish and produce, natural cheeses, yogurt and milk, and dried rice and legumes. Cooking meals centered around these items allows you to better control what goes into each dish.
6. Eliminating carbohydrates. Just as cutting out fat is unwise, completely trimming carbs from your diet is a mistake. Carbohydrates are an essential form of fuel for your body. Choose whole-grain pastas, cereals, breads and crackers to get the most benefits from carbohydrate-rich foods, including a healthy dose of fiber.
7. Eating red meat too often. Red meat, such as beef and pork, contains high amounts of saturated fat and cholesterol. Many pork products, like sausage and bacon, are also high in sodium. While meat is high in protein, there are leaner sources of protein like chicken, fish, nuts and legumes that should make up the bulk of your protein needs.
8. Consuming too much sodium. Sodium, or salt, is hidden in a surprising number of foods that you eat, including “healthy” foods that are low in fat and calories. A diet high in sodium may impact your blood pressure, and it can cause you to retain water, making the number on the scale climb higher.
Eating a well-rounded diet is essential for maintaining a proper weight and consuming the correct amounts and types of nutrients your body needs. Avoiding the mistakes listed above will help you stick to a balanced diet that fuels your body without slowing you down.