8 ‘Healthy’ Habits That Really Aren’t

We’ve seen it one too many times: The girl who says one day she’s going to “get healthy!” and the next day she’s snacking on raw celery and eating a breakfast of plain cereal with skim milk. She might even go running every morning — and she hates running.

This kind of situation is unfortunate to witness — because she has no idea what she’s doing wrong.

1. Always Ordering Salad

Oftentimes, the salad is a perfectly healthy choice. However, restaurants tend to vary a lot in their definition of “a salad.” At some restaurants, the salads are absolutely loaded with fats and not much else — they might have dressing, nuts, cheese, and fried garnishes. However, tons of fats with a tiny

If it’s your whole meal, a healthy salad will have a good balance of carbs (like grains, fruit, or potatoes), protein, and fats.

Often, a much healthier choice at a classic American-style restaurant is a grilled or baked piece of meat with some vegetables and grains. It’ll make for a much more filling, tasty, and healthy main course.

2. Cleansing

Juice cleansing, “detoxing” with tea, or going on any other kind of cleanse for a few days is not a smart idea. In fact, there’s no need to detox at all, when our livers and kidneys naturally detoxify our bodies on their own. According to Ranit Mishori, a faculty member in family medicine at the Georgetown University School of Medicine, “Unless there’s a blockage in one of these organs that do it day and night, there’s absolutely no need to help the body get rid of toxins.”

So what do those cleanses do for you? Often, they put your body through a great deal of duress, whether it’s through disrupting the gut-friendly bacteria in your stomach, inhibiting the absorption of nutrients and medication, or putting you on a starvation diet.

3. Counting Calories

“Calories in, calories out” is a myth. Not only are all calories from food not really the same — the body’s also smarter than that. Health can’t be quantified by a number. You’re never going to need some “standard” number of calories on any given day, and counting them (even loosely) can quickly snowball into an unhealthy obsession.

Judge your food intake based on your hunger and fullness cues. That’s what eating well for your body should be: Listening to its needs and responding accordingly.

4. ‘Curbing’ Cravings

The more you tell yourself you don’t want that slice of cake, the more you’re going to want it. It’s a psychological game you’re bound to lose.

A 2005 study showed that eating “junk” food in moderation actually generates healthier outcomes than restricting these foods entirely. Simply put: Eating chocolate when they want to actually helps people eat less chocolate. Participants who told themselves “no” when they craved it ended up eating way more chocolate later on — not so healthy a habit.

5. Cutting Carbs

Carbohydrates, on the most basic level, are your body’s favorite source of energy. When you cut them out, it has to turn to its other energy stores — that’s the thought process that influenced dieters to think, “Cutting carbs will make me burn fat.”

This is a misconception. When your body doesn’t have the energy it needs, it’s going to use less energy and slow down its metabolism. Not only will you likely remain at a similar (or even higher) weight, but you’ll also probably start feeling lethargic, break out, and have less effective workouts.

Stick to a nice balance of fruit, starches, and complex carbohydrates for lasting, useful energy.

6. Drinking Tons of Seltzer

People attempting to lose weight often try and curb hunger by drinking something bubbly. That’s where seltzer comes in — but seltzer can’t replace a snack. You may fool your taste buds, but you can’t fool your metabolism. If you ignore your hunger and refrain from snacking, your metabolism will take a major nosedive, and you’ll also probably end up eating way more later. Just grab a healthy snack from your fridge, instead. The nutrients and the calories are likely what you need.

Also, seltzer might be zero calories, but it’s not water. It’s just not.

The healthiest thing you can drink throughout the day is straight-up H2O. All those sparkling waters and diet drinks are adding chemicals, not-so-natural flavors, and stomach-upsetting carbonation to your day.

7. Eating a Small Breakfast

If you’re a “banana for breakfast” kind of person, we’re sorry to burst your bubble: Eating just a banana or a smoothie filled with just a bunch of fruit is actually a crazy unhealthy habit to have. All you’re doing is pumping your body with a load of fast-digesting sugar and maybe some fiber — but you’re missing the protein and healthy fats your body craves to get your day started.

A banana is going to leave you hungry for more five minutes later. Studies show that people are more likely to maintain a healthy weight if they eat a full, protein-packed breakfast. Spread some peanut butter on your banana and slice it over a bowl of yogurt. Add your banana to oatmeal cooked with egg whites or protein powder. Ditch the banana altogether and make some eggs and avocado toast.

8. Eliminating Sugar

Sugar isn’t bad, either. Shocking, I know. But really, we should have known this: Fruit has tons of the stuff!

Sugar is a perfectly healthy form of carbohydrate — when consumed in its natural form. Milk, bread, beets, and even carrots all have sugars naturally occurring in their chemical breakdown. Yet all of these foods are good for you. The same could be said of most sugars.

Sugar has gotten such a bad rap because people have a hard time conceptualizing moderation. If a lot of a food is bad, then a little of it must be bad, too, right? Nope. Not really! Eating a whole lot of vegetables can be bad for you (excess fiber can cause some serious digestion issues) but a reasonable serving of vegetables is obviously not. In fact, you need to stay healthy.

A lot of sugar can have some negative effects, true — though they actually aren’t as painful as the effects of too many veggies. But a little sugar in a healthy diet is actually perfectly good for you.

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