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5 Nutrition Practices to Stop in 2017

5 Nutrition Practices to Stop in 2017

With an exponential rise in fad nutrition practices and newfound diet trends, 2016 has been an interesting year for nutrition and health. Now that we have entered a new year, it seems fitting to reflect on some of the common nutrition practices and ‘mistakes’ that have been adopted by individuals worldwide, why these should be left behind in 2016, and how we can steer towards a healthier, long-term attitude towards diet and health in 2017.

1. “Cheat Days”

Many diet plans promote cheat day(s) or temporary overindulging to dieters as a way of rewarding themselves for sticking to a strict diet plan for a few days or a week. While it has been reported that these days can provide some benefits, such as increased metabolism and prevention of food deprivation, it is important to know the flip side of these cheat days.

Overindulging greatly impacts the function of a hormone called leptin, aka the ‘satiety hormone’. Leptin is created by your fat cells and is responsible for, essentially, letting your brain know when it is time for you to stop eating. In 2009, a study by the Southwestern Medical Centre showed the effect of palmitic acid on leptin function.

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Palmitic acid is found in foods rich in saturated fat, primarily meats and dairy products. Their results showed that over-consumption of food rich in saturated fats hindered the ability of leptin to regulate food intake, which caused over-eating and subsequently weight gain. To summarise, overindulgence can make it difficult for the body to establish when it is time to ‘stop eating’. One thing I have noticed working with my clients, is that cheat days in temporary fad diets often lead to very quick relapse into original eating patterns. If your diet requires regular “cheat days”, then your diet may not be sustainable and/or suitable for you.

Remember: food in moderation is not harmful. Be mindful of portion sizes, and keep in mind healthier alternatives such as baking food instead of frying.

2. Not reading food labels properly

It is often said that we eat with our eyes! So let’s put our eyes to good use. Food labels and ingredients are candid information of what the food contains. Therefore, it is always good to know the exact contents of the food that you are buying.

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Examples of nutritional information to look out for include: calories, total (saturated) fat, cholesterol, sodium, carbohydrates (from which come dietary fibre and sugar) per serving. It is imperative to become educated on nutrition labels and take time to decide what you want to ingest. Try to compare and contrast different products. For example, ‘fat-free’ foods often contain more sugars, while ‘sugar-free’ foods usually contain high levels of sweeteners. Finding the right balance is key.

3. Skipping breakfast

If you are a typical breakfast skipper – stop skipping, start eating! Getting up early for work, taking children to school and just being insanely busy in general can make it difficult to fit in a proper breakfast. However, skipping breakfast slows down your metabolism and can subsequently make you more susceptible to gaining weight. So if your diet is telling you to miss breakfast in efforts to reduce calorie intake and lose weight, then that may not happen. Missing breakfast also makes you more likely to overeat during lunch. Studies have also associated skipping breakfast with an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes and impaired cognitive function.

Breakfast is an important meal for individuals to boost their energy and kick start their day. Therefore, it is important to try and form a habit of eating breakfast in the morning – whether it is a piece of fruit, a slice of toast or a small pot of yoghurt. If you are short on time, try getting up 15 minutes earlier or preparing breakfast the night before.

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4. Cutting out carbs

Throughout 2016, I have heard many say that they are cutting carbs out of their diet. Some celebrities and influencers have wrongly informed individuals on why they should cut out carbs from their diet. However, not all carbs are the same; they can be simple or complex.

Simple carbohydrates are the ones to be cautious with and are found in dairy products, fruits and added sugars such as syrup. They are broken down into glucose quickly and contribute to spikes in blood sugars. Complex carbs such as food rich in starch and fibre contain sugars too, but are made from more sugar molecules. As a result, they take longer to digest and enter the blood stream slowly. Therefore, there needs to be a balance between simple and complex carbs.

Cutting out carbs from your diet could put you at increased risk of fatigue, B vitamin deficiency, constipation and other health issues. Whole grain carbohydrates are packed full of nutrients and fibre. They are slower to digest, leaving you fuller for longer.

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5. Juicing to ‘detox’

Detox is a common word in the nutrition and health world. The rationale behind detoxing is to get rid ‘toxic waste’ from your body in order to reset your health. Our body is a natural detoxifier – our liver, kidney, skin and gut help excrete any waste products. Juicing has been considered a great detoxing routine but there are also some cons. Though juicing promotes the benefits of fruits and vegetables, juicing solely may introduce your body to high sugar contents and acidity.

Furthermore, simply juicing does not always include all the essential nutrients and minerals required for body functions, such as fibre (which is lost during the juicing process and is crucial for gut health). In addition, you are likely to put your body into starvation mode which reduces your metabolism.

These five nutrition practices can be harmful to your health. So let’s start 2017 off on the right foot, focusing on our long-term health when adjusting our diet.

More by this author

Tai Ibitoye

Master of Science in Human Nutrition, Nutritionist and Public Health Advocate

5 Nutrition Practices to Stop in 2017

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Last Updated on January 21, 2020

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

Creating a vision for your life might seem like a frivolous, fantastical waste of time, but it’s not: creating a compelling vision of the life you want is actually one of the most effective strategies for achieving the life of your dreams. Perhaps the best way to look at the concept of a life vision is as a compass to help guide you to take the best actions and make the right choices that help propel you toward your best life.

your vision of where or who you want to be is the greatest asset you have

    Why You Need a Vision

    Experts and life success stories support the idea that with a vision in mind, you are more likely to succeed far beyond what you could otherwise achieve without a clear vision. Think of crafting your life vision as mapping a path to your personal and professional dreams. Life satisfaction and personal happiness are within reach. The harsh reality is that if you don’t develop your own vision, you’ll allow other people and circumstances to direct the course of your life.

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    How to Create Your Life Vision

    Don’t expect a clear and well-defined vision overnight—envisioning your life and determining the course you will follow requires time, and reflection. You need to cultivate vision and perspective, and you also need to apply logic and planning for the practical application of your vision. Your best vision blossoms from your dreams, hopes, and aspirations. It will resonate with your values and ideals, and will generate energy and enthusiasm to help strengthen your commitment to explore the possibilities of your life.

    What Do You Want?

    The question sounds deceptively simple, but it’s often the most difficult to answer. Allowing yourself to explore your deepest desires can be very frightening. You may also not think you have the time to consider something as fanciful as what you want out of life, but it’s important to remind yourself that a life of fulfillment does not usually happen by chance, but by design.

    It’s helpful to ask some thought-provoking questions to help you discover the possibilities of what you want out of life. Consider every aspect of your life, personal and professional, tangible and intangible. Contemplate all the important areas, family and friends, career and success, health and quality of life, spiritual connection and personal growth, and don’t forget about fun and enjoyment.

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    Some tips to guide you:

    • Remember to ask why you want certain things
    • Think about what you want, not on what you don’t want.
    • Give yourself permission to dream.
    • Be creative. Consider ideas that you never thought possible.
    • Focus on your wishes, not what others expect of you.

    Some questions to start your exploration:

    • What really matters to you in life? Not what should matter, what does matter.
    • What would you like to have more of in your life?
    • Set aside money for a moment; what do you want in your career?
    • What are your secret passions and dreams?
    • What would bring more joy and happiness into your life?
    • What do you want your relationships to be like?
    • What qualities would you like to develop?
    • What are your values? What issues do you care about?
    • What are your talents? What’s special about you?
    • What would you most like to accomplish?
    • What would legacy would you like to leave behind?

    It may be helpful to write your thoughts down in a journal or creative vision board if you’re the creative type. Add your own questions, and ask others what they want out of life. Relax and make this exercise fun. You may want to set your answers aside for a while and come back to them later to see if any have changed or if you have anything to add.

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    What Would Your Best Life Look Like?

    Describe your ideal life in detail. Allow yourself to dream and imagine, and create a vivid picture. If you can’t visualize a picture, focus on how your best life would feel. If you find it difficult to envision your life 20 or 30 years from now, start with five years—even a few years into the future will give you a place to start. What you see may surprise you. Set aside preconceived notions. This is your chance to dream and fantasize.

    A few prompts to get you started:

    • What will you have accomplished already?
    • How will you feel about yourself?
    • What kind of people are in your life? How do you feel about them?
    • What does your ideal day look like?
    • Where are you? Where do you live? Think specifics, what city, state, or country, type of community, house or an apartment, style and atmosphere.
    • What would you be doing?
    • Are you with another person, a group of people, or are you by yourself?
    • How are you dressed?
    • What’s your state of mind? Happy or sad? Contented or frustrated?
    • What does your physical body look like? How do you feel about that?
    • Does your best life make you smile and make your heart sing? If it doesn’t, dig deeper, dream bigger.

    It’s important to focus on the result, or at least a way-point in your life. Don’t think about the process for getting there yet—that’s the next stepGive yourself permission to revisit this vision every day, even if only for a few minutes. Keep your vision alive and in the front of your mind.

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    Plan Backwards

    It may sound counter-intuitive to plan backwards rather than forwards, but when you’re planning your life from the end result, it’s often more useful to consider the last step and work your way back to the first. This is actually a valuable and practical strategy for making your vision a reality.

    • What’s the last thing that would’ve had to happen to achieve your best life?
    • What’s the most important choice you would’ve had to make?
    • What would you have needed to learn along the way?
    • What important actions would you have had to take?
    • What beliefs would you have needed to change?
    • What habits or behaviors would you have had to cultivate?
    • What type of support would you have had to enlist?
    • How long will it have taken you to realize your best life?
    • What steps or milestones would you have needed to reach along the way?

    Now it’s time to think about your first step, and the next step after that. Ponder the gap between where you are now and where you want to be in the future. It may seem impossible, but it’s quite achievable if you take it step-by-step.

    It’s important to revisit this vision from time to time. Don’t be surprised if your answers to the questions, your technicolor vision, and the resulting plans change. That can actually be a very good thing; as you change in unforeseeable ways, the best life you envision will change as well. For now, it’s important to use the process, create your vision, and take the first step towards making that vision a reality.

    Featured photo credit: Matt Noble via unsplash.com

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