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Healthy Eating Traps

Good intentions can carry you a long way. Perhaps you’ve committed to a healthier lifestyle, and are striving to stop unhealthy behaviors while implementing better choices, like working out and eating nutritious food. However, having “healthy” habits is not an exact science and can be a confusing process. Sometimes, despite our best intentions, our efforts to eat healthy can actually backfire. Some strategies for healthy eating can actually be hidden traps, sabotaging our progress and resulting in unintended weight gain. Are you falling for these healthy eating traps?

Too Much of a Good Thing

Perhaps part of your plan is to make healthier choices about what you eat. Instead of snacking on junk food, you’re seeking out nutritious options. Maybe you’re swapping out potato chips in favor of nuts, for example. Or loading up on avocado instead of cheese on your salad.

Those are great strategies. But too much of a good thing can be a healthy eating trap. Even foods that offer lots of nutritional benefits contain calories. Eat too many, and those excess calories result in weight gain — or inhibit weight loss —undoing your good efforts to eat healthy.

Avoid this trap: The best way to avoid falling into this trap is by bringing awareness to your food consumption. Keep a food diary or use a food tracking app. Read labels and understand portion sizes. Be aware of both the quality and the quantity of the food you’re eating.

Falling for the Packaging

Natural… Fat-Free… Light… Marketers know all the tricks to entice you to buy a product. They use these trigger words to convince us that a food is good for us. But don’t believe everything you read. Food labeling can be misleading. Although some terms are regulated by the FDA, others are open to interpretation. What you think is healthy may actually be harmful to your diet strategies, especially foods that are loaded with refined fats, sugars, or preservatives.

Avoid this trap: Don’t be sucked in by product packaging. Take the time to thoroughly read labels; study the ingredients and know exactly what you’re eating. Check out this article for some tips on decoding the packaging lingo. Better yet, prioritize unrefined, whole foods that don’t come in a package … like fresh fruits and vegetables!

Riding the Trends

These days, it seems like there are more and more diet options. Maybe you know someone who is gluten-free, dairy-free, organic or vegan. Or maybe they’re dabbling in a Paleo, Whole30, or Keto lifestyle. Whether any one or another of these approaches is the optimal path to ultimate health is inconclusive, and scientific studies can be shown to support many different strategies. Are you enticed by claims that you can lose weight while eating nothing by bacon, eggs and butter? Are you convinced that you’ll reach your goal weight if only you cut out dairy products? Think that it’s okay to snack on treats and sweets, as long as they’re vegan or organic?

Not so fast. Don’t be fooled into thinking that something is healthy or will produce weight loss just because it’s associated with a trendy diet. Filling up on vegan cupcakes, gluten free crackers, organic ice cream, or ketogenic bacon won’t help you achieve your goals, and overdoing it may even have negative health effects.

Avoid this trap: Do your research to fully understand a diet before adapting it. Don’t assume that a diet trend will produce weight loss or that foods or products associated with trends are inherently healthy options.

Failing to Prep

You’ve probably heard the phrase, “Failing to prepare is preparing to fail”. Whether it was originally uttered by Benjamin Franklin or proclaimed by coach John Wooden, it’s true that proper preparation can form the foundation for any successful endeavor. And that applies to healthy eating. Failing to

prepare healthy snack and meal options can sabotage your good intentions. When hunger hits or time is tight, you’ll reach for what’s available and quick. What will you find?

Meal prepping not only puts healthy food right at your fingertips, but it also reinforces a healthy mindset. You’ve committed to a healthier lifestyle, implemented a plan to reach your goals, and provided yourself with the resources to stick with your plan. You’re confident in the knowledge that you have healthy, satisfying food options when you need them, and won’t sabotage your good intentions in a weak moment.

Avoid this trap: Invest time and effort into shopping for and preparing healthy foods. If you provide yourself with healthy options, you’re much less likely to be tempted by bad choices. You won’t resort to fast food, packaged snacks, or endless grazing. Meal prep plans are readily available online, or schedule a nutritional consultation through Unify.

Liquid Calories

Caloric intake comes not just from eating, but from drinking as well. Are you a fan of juices, smoothies and shakes, believing that they offer health and benefits? While they may be full of nutrients, they can also be full of calories. You may be adding hundreds of extra calories to your diet, even without overeating. These drinks are heavy on carbohydrates and sugars — even though they are from healthy sources like fruits and vegetables — and the extra calorie load can end up as stored fat, resulting in weight gain and undermining your healthy habits.

Juices and smoothies made from fruits and vegetables can be a good way to ingest a big dose of vitamins and nutrients. But whole fruits and vegetables offer fiber and are more filling, meaning that you can fill up with less.

Avoid this trap: Identify the calorie components of all beverages and include them in your daily calorie count. Consider juices, shakes and smoothies as meal replacements, rather than supplements. Evaluate your food and drink choices and make choices that provide the most benefit.

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