You’ve got some serious health goals. You’re eating well and yet, something is amiss. I often hear from clients and friends who are trying to de-bloat or drop a few pounds, or perhaps cut back on added sugar or just fuel their busy life in a better way, but despite eating healthfully, are having trouble meeting their targets. If this sounds familiar, read on for some of the top healthy food mishaps you might be making. Once you spot them and learn how to course correct, you can get back on track.
It has been demonstrated time and again that food labels can impact your perception. In one study, participants tasted identical versions of potato chips, cookies and yogurt, the only difference being that one version was labeled ‘organic’ and the other was labeled ‘regular’. The foods with organic labels were deemed to have fewer calories and taste healthier than the exact same product with the regular label. In another study — this time using chocolate—the label ‘fair trade’ (which indicates ethical treatment of workers) was taken to mean that the treat was lower in calories. In many cases, people are prompted to eat more when they think they’re eating healthier or lighter food. I know I would!
Just because models and celebrities drink green juice doesn’t mean they’re right for you. If your goal is to get more veggies and you have trouble meeting your quota, green juice can help you fill the gaps. But if you’re sufficiently meeting your produce needs or you’re trying to lose weight, green juice can be tripping you up. In many cases, these sips have more fruit than veggies, which means more sugar, calories and carbs, and truthfully, none of us need any of those nutrients in excess. And I’ve seen people whose weight loss stalled because they added a green juice, or even worse, crept up. No matter what your health goals are, the best green juices are those made predominantly with vegetables. Even better are those that are blended rather than extracted. Blending retains the fiber — a beneficial nutrient that’s removed from juice.
I was recently scanning food blogs when I was lured in by a beautiful avocado smoothie bowl recipe. Upon reading the instructions, which listed the recipe as one serving, I noticed it called for three bananas and one mango, among other things. Certainly fruit is healthy, but anything — even healthy food — can be eaten in excess. Any time you overeat, it can interfere with weight loss or worse, cause weight gain. And some foods, while perfectly tolerable in proper portions, can lead to extra gas and bloating if overconsumed. (Excess fructose from too much fruit can have this effect.) The extra carbs, calories and sugar from all this fruit can be problematic, even though it comes with a slew of vitamins, minerals and fiber.
Portion size is influenced by a number of factors. Eating a ‘handful’ of almonds might mean something different in my hand compared to yours. A drizzle of olive oil can vary, depending on who’s pouring, and the avocado mash on your toast might be too little or too much, depending on your needs. If your clothes aren’t fitting as well as you’d like, you’re dealing with excess bloat, or your energy could use a lift, you may need to right-size your portion sizes. It’s not necessary to start weighing and measuring all your food at each sitting, but it could be helpful to do that once or twice until your eyeballs adjust to the amount.