From magazine headlines to wise words from our mother, we’re constantly bombarded with “tips” to keep our health in check. But before drowning in diet soda and daily showers, reassess some of these behaviors that may be doing more harm than help.
Foods and eating habits:
1. Enhanced water. A little faux fruity flavor might seem like a great way to up H2O intake, but flavored water, like Vitamin Water or even Smart Water, can be filled with sugar. Skip the artificially sweetened water and infuse water with actual fruit.
2. Granola and granola bars. Granola is made from whole grains, so it can’t be bad, right? Not so fast. Granola and granola bars are both calorically dense and often contain a ton of sugar. You may as well eat a candy bar…
3. Protein bars. Protein bars don’t fall far from the granola-bar-tree. They are often ultra-high in calories and sugar—not exactly what the body needs after a hard workout. Choose a healthier high-protein snack instead.
4. Vitamins and supplements. Multiple studies have shown that taking vitamins (in pill form) may not have any positive effect on long-term health. Researchers have surveyed the nonexistent (or even potentially harmful) ties of vitamin E and C supplements with heart disease, cancer, and cancer treatment. Plus, most people get all the vitamins they need from their food, and substituting pills for whole foods may mean missing out on the benefits from other compounds found in the natural sources.
5. Light beer. News flash: Light-beer doesn’t necessarily mean less calories. Instead, many simply have a lower alcohol content. And for those interested in getting a buzz on, the calorie difference may be negated by the need to drink more. Sip a healthier beer instead, and split up the six-pack between friends.
6. “Low-fat” foods. Think twice before skipping the fat-filled salmon. While cutting some fat could help weight loss, we may miss out on some big benefits from healthy omega-3 fats, such as boosting brainpower and lowering the risk of heart disease.
7. Skipping meals. Skipping meals probably won’t save us any calories in the long haul. Forgoing a meal may result in overeating later on, so choose a healthier lunchtime treat instead.
8. Bottled water. Some bottled water may be filled with bacteria or chemicals when bottled in plastic containers. So grab a water filter and purify tap water instead.
9. Passing on dessert. Don’t deny your favorite dessert. If really craving that double chocolate brownie, enjoy a few generous bites instead of going for seconds at the dinner buffet line—which could rack up even more calories.
10. Diet soda. Diet Dr. Pepper may not be our friend. Scientists suggest too much of these zero-cal beverages could do as much damage as the sugary stuff, potentially leading to weight gain and an uncontrollable sweet tooth. The solution? Skip the soda completely and opt for a healthier choice.
11. Juice diets. Many of us could use a few more fruits and veggies, but we don’t need to have spinach-apple juice for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Juice diets may leave out important nutrients and enough calories…
Read more: Laura Schwecherl & Kelly Fitzpatrick, Health