Even the healthiest eaters make a food faux-pas from time to time. Here are some of the most common food mistakes that even the most die-hard, clean-eating enthusiasts tend to make.
1. Wasting Food
Many of us buy fresh produce once a week to avoid having to make multiple trips to the grocery store. While this makes sense in theory, it’s also why up to 40 per cent of our produce ends up in the garbage. Fruits and vegetables start to lose their nutritional value soon as they are picked, so if you find yourself constantly throwing away rotten food, you need to re-think your once-a-week, buy-in-bulk strategy. Try making multiple trips to the market each week, and plan your meals ahead of time so you know exactly how much you need.
2. Dining Out Often
When we cook at home, we know exactly what’s going into our food and we can control for added sugar, chemicals and other unwanted ingredients. Unfortunately, eating out offers no such guarantees. Of course, dining out or ordering in every so often can be part of a healthy diet; but if you find yourself eating out more often than you eat in (even if you’re ordering supposed “healthy” foods), you’re probably consuming way more sodium, sugar and calories than you would otherwise.
3. Not Watching Portion Sizes
This is another hazard of eating out too often. Restaurants typically serve portions that are way bigger than they need to be, which leads to overeating. Even healthy people have a hard time discerning the proper amount to eat when the plates and portions in restaurants are so grossly over-sized.
4. Eating Too Much ‘Healthy’ Junk Food
There are so many food products being touted as “healthy” these days, that the word has almost lost all meaning. While “vegetable chips” are certainly healthier than the regular kind, they’re still pre-packaged and can be laden with added salt, fats and other undesirable ingredients. Read your labels carefully, and always try to make your own version of these so-called “healthy” pre-packaged snacks at home. (Get our kale chips and other clean-eating snack recipes here!)
5. Choosing Low-Fat Or Fat-Free Versions
Since we’ve all been conditioned to believe that fat is the enemy, many of us buy foods that are fat-free or low fat. This can actually work against us. In fact, experts suggest we should actually be eating more fat — that is, fats that are good for us, such as olive oil, nuts and seeds and avocado. These types of fats contain Omega 3 fatty acid,s which are essential for a healthy and well-balanced diet. Our brains function best when we eat a diet with plenty of Omega 3’s. Even full-fat dairy products may be better for us than their non-fat or low-fat cousins, since low-fat varieties often contain sugar or aspartame to make up for the flavour that fat provides.
6. Loading Up On Vitamin Supplements
It may sound like a good idea in theory to take lots of extra vitamins, but this is another commonly misheld belief among healthy people. Our bodies can only absorb so much at once, and while there is nothing wrong with meeting your daily nutrient requirements with supplements, taking too many tablets can lead to negative consequences. An excessive build-up of nutrients in the body may have its own side effects; some may be temporary while others may have some seriously debilitating effects. Instead of overdosing on supplements, watch what you eat, and only take vitamins that you don’t receive naturally from the foods you eat.
7. Peeling Fruits And Veggies
Much of the nutritional value in fresh fruits and vegetables exists in the peels of these foods. If we remove the skins of apples, for example, we are tossing all the antioxidant properties of apples down the garbage disposal; the same holds true for carrots and potatoes. The peels not only contain vitamins and valuable phytochemicals, they also contain all the fibre of that particular food, and fibre is one thing we do not want to short ourselves on.
Juicing can be a very healthy way to get in extra nutrients when done properly. Unfortunately, as a juicer processes fruits and veggies, the seeds and peels (fibre and other nutrients) are left behind. Additionally, juice has a ton of sugar, and doesn’t fill you up as much as simply eating a piece of fruit or vegetables would. Supplementing your current diet with a green juice or two is OK, but relying on juicing as your main source of nutrients is a no no.
Even healthy people fall prey to these food mistakes. The good news is it’s easy to become a better-educated consumer. Pay attention to ingredients, labels, and portion sizes. Know how much of and which nutrients your body needs, and make your food choices accordingly.