No matter how much of a nutrition expert or exercise fanatic you think you are, no one is perfect. Learn the best tactics to overcome these common health mishaps.
Here at Cooking Light, it's tough to pass a day without engaging in a conversation about food. Whether it’s brainstorming 101 ways to cook with ginger or debunking the science behind pitless avocados, healthy eating is constantly at the forefront of our minds. Outside of our jobs, many of us are avid runners, cyclists, yogis, cross fitters and, more, all while trying to land a decently nutritious dinner on the table every night. While we aim to practice what we preach, it's not always easy. Everyone has a nutritional misstep every now and then—including yours truly. This morning, I went for a run (win!), but due to poor time management (mistake #1), I didn't eat breakfast (mistake #2) nor did I pack a lunch (mistake #3). From articles I've written to books I've read, I well understand the consequences of skipping a meal, yet I did it anyway. Given hectic schedules and busy work days, we’re all bound to have one healthy misstep every once in awhile, whether it’s shoveling down your lunch too quickly or sacrificing sleep to finish a work project.
The point is, no matter how much of a healthy food or exercise nut you think you may be, no one is perfect. If you can admit that, you’ll be on the right track to making positive changes in your daily routine. After you’ve figured out your nutrition or exercise holes, set small weekly goals to keep yourself motivated or recruit a buddy to hold you accountable. If you're glued to Instagram like most of us are, follow the best healthy publications, websites, restaurants, and chefs out there to fill your head with valuable nutrition and exercise tips.
Oh, and guess what? If you want to hit up happy hour, eat a cheeseburger and drink a beer one night, do it. Enjoying meals with others, healthy or not, can add crucial balance to a long day. An occasional indulgence is completely fine, as long as you approach each day with a healthy mindset. Tomorrow is an opportunity to improve on the previous day, whether it’s eating more whole grains, attending a workout class, drinking more water, or simply remembering to pack your lunch. Below find 10 common mistakes that even the healthiest people can make during the day, whether it’s at the workplace, gym, or home, and learn what you can do to overcome them.
1. I hit the gym before work, then sit all day long.
While it’s easy to think that a tough morning session gives you a free pass to glue yourself to your office chair, this is absolutely not the case. A 2015 study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine found a link between prolonged sitting and negative health effects, regardless of exercise.
The Fix: Take a walk around the block during lunch—we promise your body will thank you.
2. I'm crunched for time, so I eat lunch too quickly or skip it entirely.
Feeling pressure with a tight deadline can bring out the best work in many of us, but extreme focus and stress can often make us skip meals or barrel through them. Eating too fast can lead to overeating, while starving yourself can lead to binging later in the day.
The Fix: Take the time to pack a balanced lunch full of naturally filling, fiber-rich foods such as our Tuna-Quinoa Toss. Don’t forget snacks to control hunger pangs in between meals—almonds, hummus and pita bread, or whole fruit are excellent choices.
3. I exercise like a beast, then refuel like a beast.
A super intense workout session can make you think it’s okay to gorge on food, but remember—if you’re trying to lose weight, you need to burn more calories than you take in. The amount of calories expended during exercise depends on several factors, including your current weight.
The Fix: Keeping track of calories burned will help you make smart choices afterwards. Regardless, aim to eat protein-rich foods and make sure to replenish lost electrolytes like sodium and potassium.
4. I'm a hydrating machine by day and wino by night.
Sipping on a glass of water during the workday is a simple way to stay hydrated, but once you leave the office it’s far too easy to slack on your H20 duties. Whether at happy hour or at home, you switch to wine and never look back, a move that can lead to dehydration (or a headache) the next morning.
The Fix: To make sure you’re staying hydrated, stick to the “one for one” rule—for every serving of alcohol you consume, drink a glass of water.
5. I meal prep for the whole week on Sunday, but I’m bored of everything by Tuesday.
Meal prepping is a smart way to save time during the week, but making five turkey roll-up sandwiches or one huge vegetable soup recipe can get tiresome quickly. You may resort to eating out to satisfy your bored-to-tears taste buds, making all your hard work utterly pointless.
The Fix: Rethink your meal prep game—instead of making just one recipe, try batch cooking several staple foods such as quinoa, roasted veggies, or toasted nuts. Make a few different vinaigrettes or sauces so you can mix-and-match different ingredients.
6. I hate fruits and vegetables, but I eat tons of grains, legumes, and lean proteins.
If you dislike the creamy consistency of avocados, the earthy flavor of mushrooms, or the juicy “pop” of grapes, you may find yourself doubling up on the healthy foods you do like. While there are worse things than a plain bowl of beans, you’re missing out on key nutrients essential to a nutritious diet.
The Fix: Get creative. Re-balance your plate by finding ways to sneak the foods you dislike into your diet, such as adding finely-chopped mushrooms to ground beef for burgers, blending spinach into a smoothie or making nice cream with frozen bananas.
7. I cooked a nutritious dinner (yay) but shoveled it down in front of the TV (boo).
You’ve made the effort to cook the ultimate healthy meal, but then you flock to the couch to watch the next episode of your favorite sitcom or drama. While a TV show can help you relax, it can also steal your attention from your plate and cause you to overeat or finish too quickly.
The Fix: Practice screen-free eating. Sit down at the table (with family or friends if possible) and enjoy that dazzling plate of greens and grains you took the time to prepare.
8. I stock up on healthy snacks like crackers, cereal, and nuts, but forget to read the labels.
Your heart is in the right place, but even nutritious-sounding snacks can be sneaky offenders in the sodium and sugar departments if you aren’t careful.
The Fix: If you crave crunchy and salty, check the ingredient list and nutrition information of store bought snacks to ensure no added sugars or a boatload of sodium. Opt for unsalted nuts and low-sodium, whole-grain cereals (such as Kashi) and crackers (such as Triscuits) so you can snack without worry.
9. I buy ALL the healthy foods, then realize I don’t have time to cook all of it.
While filling your shopping cart to the gills with the entire produce section or five types of ancient grains may make you feel like you’re being healthy, you haven’t made a game plan for how you’re going to actually cook any of it. You may end up wasting food—and money.
The Fix: If your weeknight schedule isn’t set but you want to stock up, opt for produce with longer shelf lives such as potatoes, onions, apples, and hardy greens such as spinach. Your wallet will thank you.
10. I beat myself up for making any of the above mistakes.
The Fix: Take a deep breath. You’re not a failure—you’re human. Just like the rest of us.