With a wealth of contradictory nutrition information out there from “experts” who may or may not actually know what they’re talking about, it’s easy to make mistakes when trying to eat better. Here are three of the most common mistakes people make, and suggestions for what you can do instead.
Mistake #1: Focusing on only the “nutrition facts” instead of the ingredients.
Take a look at the following nutrition facts:
Total Carbohydrate: 30.8g
Total fat: 0.4g
Would you eat this food? It seems sugary, right? These are the nutrition facts for one large apple, according to nutritiondata.self.com. OF COURSE we know apples are a healthy choice to make, and that sugar in the form of whole fruits is exactly how humans are meant to take sugar in. But the nutrition facts are misleading here. Had we simply looked at the ingredients, we’d have immediately known that this was just an apple and known it was a healthy choice.
What to do instead: Stop letting the nutrition facts confuse you. Just focus on the ingredients and make sure what you’re eating is mostly (if not all) plant foods like fruits, vegetables and grains that are unrefined (beets don’t count as a vegetable if they’ve been turned into beet sugar). By simply focusing on eating more unrefined plant foods, we can remove the confusion from the equation and focus on just eating foods we know are good for us.
Mistake #2: Following unsustainable fad diets
Keto, Paleo, Atkins, Whole 30, the Color Diet...fad diets just don’t seem to want to die. And they’re a terrible idea. Most of them promote unhealthy eating habits, are based in pseudoscience, and can only realistically be done for a few months. These diets are difficult to follow and will make eating an unenjoyable experience. Worse, any progress you make on them will disappear shortly after you return to a normal eating pattern.
What to do instead: focus on sustainable changes that will last a lifetime. Make changes that you can manage and that don’t make eating a painful experience. If you can’t see yourself living on raw nuts and grilled liver forever, don’t follow a diet that tells you to do that. Pick something more reasonable, like eating a serving of vegetables with every meal.
Eating more unrefined plant foods is something you can feasibly do for the rest of your life. And since you can do it for the rest of your life, you’ll never see the erasure of progress people often see when they quit their fad diets.
Mistake #3: Not eating enough fruits and vegetables
You could eat more fruits and veggies than you ever thought possible, and you’d only be healthier for it. These are some of the most nutritionally dense foods on the planet, and they’re packed with thousands of phytochemicals that do everything from fighting cancer to preventing heart disease. Unfortunately, many people fall prey to the baseless idea that we should avoid fruit because it contains sugar, or that nightshades like tomatoes and peppers are bad for us because Tom Brady doesn’t eat them. Unless you have an allergy or intolerance, cutting groups of fruits and veggies out of your diet is one of the worst health moves possible.
What to do instead: Don’t deprive yourself of the healthiest foods on the planet! Aim to eat unprocessed fruits and vegetables with every meal. The more the better, and the more kinds, the better! You’d be amazed at how many fruits and veggies are out there. Strive to try them all!