Back in October of 2012 I wrote a post titled “7 nutrition mistakes you’re making”. I’m not going to link said article because my stance has changed on a few of the things I discussed in it. Ah, the naive 28 year old that I was. And now I’m jt a naive 32 year old. But anyways, I wanted to do a follow up to that article because it seemed overdue. So here are 5 things you may or may not be doing for your health that aren’t so good (according to me anyways).
- You’re consuming too much sodium. After analyzing a new client’s diet, I typically find that sodium consumption is well above the recommended upper limit of 2,300 mg. This amount, by the way, is the equivalent of a level teaspoon of salt. (Side note: sodium is it’s own element, but in our diet’s it is usually consumed when paired up with chloride to make salt) I often see 2x this amount being consumed on a daily basis in a lot of people and sometimes I’ll see 3-4x this amount. And when you look at what we’re eating, it’s not surprising. Swinging by Applebees for happy hour for their salsa verde beef nachos? That’ll set you back a whopping 6,110 mg of sodium!!! And I found that in just one quick search of one popular chain restaurant. You’ll find this all over the place. So while most people think that the salt shaker on the table is to blame, it really only accounts for a very small amount of sodium in our diets. Take home message? Cook at home as often as possible.
- You still aren’t drinking enough water…. probably. We’ve all heard to drink 8, 8 ounce glasses of water every day. First of all, where the hell did that recommendation stem from? How can you possibly blanket this for our entire population? A sedentary 5’2″ receptionist in air conditioning is going to require substantially less fluids than a 17 year old kid in full pads running 2-a-days in July. Then again, I think they got rid of 2-a-days? Either way you get the point. Everyone is unique here just as they are with nutrition in general. Now, I probably should have addressed this in the sodium section, but since water goes where the salt goes, I’ll put it here. Some people actually require well above the recommended upper limit of 2,300 mg of sodium due to losses in sweat. So think of the kid playing football, a woman training for a marathon, or even just heavy sweaters… But back to water recommendations. My general rule of thumb is 1/2 your body weight in ounces of fluids per day. Obviously water is my numero uno of choice, but other fluids such as coffee, tea, milk, and even water from fruits and veggies count towards that total as well. You are eating your fruits and veggies aren’t you?
- Your main goal is protein intake. Look, I love me some protein so don’t get me wrong here. It’s upside is very positive and I think the RDA is still too low. BUT, holy hell the media and marketers are driving me insane with this lately. High protein this, high protein that. Whatever happened to eating eggs and lean beef, chicken, and pork? What about fish? Milk, kefir, yogurt, beans, nuts, seeds, buckwheat, or quinoa? These are all solid foods! And they didn’t have to be fortified by General Mills to make your Cheerios have a measly gram or two of poorly bioavailable protein added for an extra $1.50. Eat the aforementioned foods in reasonable amounts and include plenty of fruits and veggies along with some good carbohydrate foods and you’re gonna be doing just fine.
- You are still afraid of those spooky carbs. Keto diets seem to be all the rage nowadays. And if you’re prone to epileptic seizures, then they are absolutely warranted. But if you’re not, then why? First off, it’s very difficult to accomplish as there are carbs in just about everything. Even your non-starchy veggies have at least a few grams per serving. So the diet itself is very limiting in terms of what you can actually eat. Therefore, if your goal is say, 25 grams of carbs per day (which would suck) and you have an apple, then the rest of your diet is gonna be meat and cheese probably. So again, you can see the potential micronutrient issue here. Now, some folks can handle more carbs than others, but to force your body into ketosis just doesn’t make any sense to me. However, I admittedly haven’t looked too deep into the new data/research on this so if you can show me evidence of some real benefit I’m happy to change my tune. Bottom line still remains that you need to be in a caloric deficit to lose weight and that can be done a lot of different ways. You can lose weight without dramatically lowering your carb intake believe it or not.
- You have a reward mindset. Oh man do I see this one a lot. A client, let’s call her Jane, just ran 5 miles at an above average pace. I mean for her she felt like she was flying! Now she decides it’s time to spend some quality time with her two best friends, Ben and Jerry, to reward herself. Only problem is that she’s likely to out eat what she just ran off. Another way I see this play out is the guy who was perfect with his diet and workouts all week long, Monday-Friday. Unfortunately, he now believes that he has earned a weekend of couch sitting and munching on nachos while watching football (not that I haven’t been guilty of that). It’s pretty easy to undo a week’s worth of effort over the weekend. Or the worst of them all…. The person who finally reaches his or her goal weight only to celebrate by going on a binge episode of their favorite foods that they have been avoiding. The guilt and shame that follows is brutal. It happens to way too many of us and often leads back to poor behaviors and, ultimately, weight regain. Now, it’s not that the reward mindset in and of itself is bad. It’s natural actually. But we need to find a way to reward ourselves that doesn’t involve food. Maybe you get a new piece of fitness equipment you’ve been wanting. Or maybe you go and get a 90 minute Swedish massage (highly recommend this one by the way). Maybe it’s buying that pair of overpriced shoes that you have to have. It could be a weekend getaway. It can be really whatever the hell you want it to be. Just don’t let it be about food.
So I think that’s good for this week. As always, the comment section is there for a reason so let me know if these rock your world or if they just flat out suck and I’m a moron. Regardless, I hope you learned a thing or two and are constantly finding new ways to better yourself and your health. Til next week!