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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 May 15, 2019

How to Tap Into the Power of Positivity

How to Tap Into the Power of Positivity

As it appears, the human mind is not capable of not thinking, at least on the subconscious level. Our mind is always occupied by thoughts, whether we want to or not, and they influence our every action.

“Happiness cannot come from without, it comes from within.” – Helen Keller

When we are still children, our thoughts seem to be purely positive. Have you ever been around a 4-year old who doesn’t like a painting he or she drew? I haven’t. Instead, I see glee, exciting and pride in children’s eyes. But as the years go by, we clutter our mind with doubts, fears and self-deprecating thoughts.

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Just imagine then how much we limit ourselves in every aspect of our lives if we give negative thoughts too much power! We’ll never go after that job we’ve always wanted because our nay-saying thoughts make us doubt our abilities. We’ll never ask that person we like out on a date because we always think we’re not good enough.

We’ll never risk quitting our job in order to pursue the life and the work of our dreams because we can’t get over our mental barrier that insists we’re too weak, too unimportant and too dumb. We’ll never lose those pounds that risk our health because we believe we’re not capable of pushing our limits. We’ll never be able to fully see our inner potential because we simply don’t dare to question the voices in our head.

But enough is enough! It’s time to stop these limiting beliefs and come to a place of sanity, love and excitement about life, work and ourselves.

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So…how exactly are we to achieve that?

It’s not as hard as it may seem; you just have to practice, practice, practice. Here are a few ideas on how you can get started.

1. Learn to substitute every negative thought with a positive one.

Every time a negative thought crawls into your mind, replace it with a positive thought. It’s just like someone writes a phrase you don’t like on a blackboard and then you get up, erase it and write something much more to your liking.

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2. See the positive side of every situation, even when you are surrounded by pure negativity.

This one is a bit harder to put into practice, which does not mean it’s impossible.

You can find positivity in everything by mentally holding on to something positive, whether this be family, friends, your faith, nature, someone’s sparkling eyes or whatever other glimmer of beauty. If you seek it, you will find it.

3. At least once a day, take a moment and think of 5 things you are grateful for.

This will lighten your mood and give you some perspective of what is really important in life and how many blessings surround you already.

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4. Change the mental images you allow to enter your mind.

How you see yourself and your surroundings make a huge difference to your thinking. It is like watching a DVD that saddens and frustrates you, completely pulling you down. Eject that old DVD, throw it away and insert a new, better, more hopeful one instead.

So, instead of dwelling on dark, negative thoughts, consciously build and focus on positive, light and colorful images, thoughts and situations in your mind a few times a day.

If you are persistent and keep on working on yourself, your mind will automatically reject its negative thoughts and welcome the positive ones.

And remember: You are (or will become) what you think you are. This is reason enough to be proactive about whatever is going on in your head.

Featured photo credit: Kyaw Tun via unsplash.com

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