Against all odds, including the fact that KFC offers a bacon and cheese sandwich where the "bread" is two pieces of fried chicken, most people grasp the basics of nutrition: portion control, balanced diets, a vague notion that baby back ribs are not, by themselves, a food group.
But there’s a lot of bad, confusing info out there. As a nutritional therapist and the creator of Authentic Self Wellness, I’m bombarded with questions stemming from the fact that food companies will put anything on a label to make a buck. To set the record straight, here are five nutrition mistakes I see people make, and how to fix them. You, and your body, will thank me later.
1. Guzzling Energy Drinks
Why it’s a mistake: They’re loaded with refined sugar and artificial sweeteners that can actually cause a severe energy crash hours later. Most are also full of different additives, chemicals, and colorings that have been linked to weight gain, sleep disturbances, mood alterations and even heart problems. Also, contrary to popular belief, Red Bull does not actually give you wings.
Fix it: Need an extra boost to get through your day or workout? Opt for coconut water like A Taste of Nirvana, which is all natural, loaded with energy-boosting potassium, and even sounds kinda edgy. Not a fan of coconuts? Try natural, organic Steaz Iced Teas and Energy Shots.
2. Avoiding Fats at all Costs
Why it’s a mistake: Fat is not an "f" word! Grocery stores are littered with products that claim to be "fat-free" or "low-fat," which helps position fat as the enemy. Yes, some fats are bad—hydrogenated fats, partially hydrogenated fats, highly processed vegetable oils, fried fats—but many are actually healthy.
Fix it: Embrace good fats from foods like olives, nuts, avocados, fish and flax seeds. These fats promote healthy skin, hair, nails and hearts, provide energy and help our bodies heal. Steer clear of bad fat sources like French fries, potato chips and fried chicken.
3. Not Drinking Enough Water
Why it’s a mistake: Many people start their mornings with strong coffee, sip on soda during the day, and relax at night with a cold beer. That’s not the worst thing in the world, but not drinking enough water can cause anxiety, depression, headaches, fatigue and even weight gain.
Fix it: To determine how much water you need, divide your body weight by two. That number is the minimum ounces of water to drink on a daily basis. Yes, it sounds like a lot, but our bodies are 55 to 75 percent water, and we lose a lot every day. Grab a large steel water bottle and aim to refill it three or four times throughout the day to say properly hydrated.
4. Eating only Pre-Packaged or Microwavable Meals
Why it’s a mistake: The problem with frozen pizzas and Hot Pockets is that they are devoid of living nutrients our bodies need to function properly. A lot of products claim to be nutritious, but in reality contain synthetic ingredients that are difficult for our bodies to digest.
Fix it: Dedicate one to two nights per week to preparing a fresh meal for yourself. Grill up some salmon, create a salad with leafy green vegetables, roast some spicy organic chicken. If you lack Batali-like skills, dining at a non-fast food restaurant is still better than downing anything coming out of a microwave.
5. Partying Too Much
Why it’s a mistake: You already know this, but staying out late and overdoing the booze can really wreak havoc on your health. Too much alcohol robs your body of nutrients (like B vitamins) and water, leaving your skin dry and your immune system weak. When you pass out at 2 a.m., your sleeping patterns suffer, which affects how you think, act and feel during the day.
Fix it: If you know you’re going to tie one on, pre-party with a protein-rich foods to help absorb the alcohol. That means lots of beans, nuts, turkey and chicken as opposed to fried foods and refined carbs like those in cookies, crackers and chips. Also, light-colored drinks will take less of a toll, and hydration can lessen the damage. Chug a glass of water before bed, and another when you wake up the next morning. Trust me, you’ll feel and function even better than you think you’re feeling and functioning after a round of whiskey shots.
By Marguax J. Rathbun, Courtesy of MadeMan, for and by men who are wealthy in wit and charm.
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