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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 17, 2019

8 Simple Mindfulness Exercises to Bring Peace and Happiness to Your Life

8 Simple Mindfulness Exercises to Bring Peace and Happiness to Your Life

In life, we all need to be conscientious of what we are doing. You don’t need to live a life of stress if you don’t want to. You can achieve peace and happiness in life by carefully building mindfulness exercises into your life’s routine.

Exercising mindfulness isn’t rocket science and as importantly, you can do it. It will, however, take a few tries to get into the groove of things but once you get it, it is like riding a bike, you will never lose it.

Trust me. It’s in your best interest to learn and put these mindfulness exercises into practice. In this article, I will share with you 8 mindfulness exercises that will help you to boost your energy, vitality and live a more peaceful and happier life.

Why Is It Hard to Live A Peaceful And Happy Life?

Our Habitat Has Become Too Technological

The world has accepted the idea that technology is often the cure for all evil. We have accepted, as a society, that everything technological will make us live a better life without fully investigating the many side effects that modernity brings.

There are a number of technological side effects that have a tremendous impact on your life that the media rarely tells you about.[1] Some of them include self-harm, economic inequality, having less sex, and even suicide. The global community is becoming less happy because of technology.

How can anybody live a peaceful and happy life when they are depressed? Technology advancements, ladies and gents, is a major reason for why we are living a poor life because it has infiltrated our lives too much.

According to my research, Americans spend an average of 8 hours a day looking at the computer screen — The average screen time spent on smartphones alone is about 20 hours per week. That’s a lot! No wonder why living a happy and peaceful life is so difficult these days.

Too Many People Don’t Want to Unplug

Americans check their phones an average of 80 times during vacation.[2] Some admit to checking their smartphones 300 times every single day. In countries like Brazil, India and China, the situation is no different.

The reality is that people are constantly plugged into technological devices and this behavior is literally making people all over the globe fight an inner war with themselves, which consequently makes them very sad. As we know, war is the enemy of peace which won’t make anybody happy.

Listen carefully:

We have a global anxiety epidemic because people don’t want to unplug from their smartphones and most people aren’t doing anything to fix it. It is a sad state of affairs but very real. This obsession with technology is turning us into perishable robots who live terrible lives.

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The era of anxiety is here to stay. There is little doubt about it. We can, however, fight back with the best remedy of all — We call it mindfulness!

Thank God there is an antidote to this whole technological madness. Without further ado, let’s go straight to the mindful exercises.

8 Mindfulness Exercises to Start Practicing

There are tons of mindfulness exercises available for you to engage with out there.[3] In the paragraphs below, I will include the best ones I’ve personally tried or have seen my close friends and family members try.

Are you ready for it? Let’s go!

1. Pray Daily

You should pray on a daily basis. Why is that you may ask — Well, because science has told us to do so.

When people pray, they feel peaceful, almost eliminating anxiety. Worries become secondary, and often gives people energy and hope to cope with the difficulties of life.

Prayer can make you more confident and focused. Prayer also helps you with self-control, helps to control pain, and can protect you against illnesses and disorders like cancer and high blood pressure. At least, this is what researchers from Harvard Medical School have said.[4]

Pray. You won’t regret it.[5]

2. Pay Attention to Your Inner Thoughts

A lot of people allow themselves to be influenced by their negative thoughts. Be different and resist believing in them. It is a bad habit that can lead to unhappiness.

By the way, if you do feel this way, chances are high that somebody other than you put these thoughts into your head.

Here is my secret to combat this cancer — look at things objectively. I bet that if you look at things as they are, you will realize that most if not all of your negative thoughts are only inside of your head.

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If you pay close attention, you will quickly realize that these voices aren’t worth your time. Believe me — Ignoring them and looking at things with objectivity is often the best course of action.

This article can guide you to beat negative thoughts:

How to Stop Automatic Negative Thoughts When You’re Overwhelmed

3. Smile Often

Smiling will slow down your heart. It will also relax your body because when you smile, your body releases endorphins which in itself has a number of positive benefits for you as a person.

Smile often! You may want to smile early in the morning, during the day, and late in the evening. It is amazing what happens to you when you decide to smile instead of being grumpy.

Surrender your problems to a nice smile. You will notice two things. First, most people just don’t which makes them live a miserable life. Second, if you decide to smile often, you will eventually smile unconsciously which is the ideal.

The moment that you smile unconsciously, you then know that you are truly happy.

4. Organize Your Working Desk

A messy desk will make you less productive and can agitate and overstimulate you. You don’t want that.

When you clear your desk, you engage in deep inner-thinking and your systematic decision making ends up becoming therapeutic.

Most people realize that they are most creative when their creative space is clean and organized. The former often makes people more aware of what they are doing which lends to less stress and more productivity.

Organizing your desk will also make you more energetic and focused because order often decreases chaos which is a condition that often slows down daily progress.

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5. Celebrate Your Friend’s Victories

I love this mindful exercise. One of the best ways to live a happy and peaceful life is to celebrate the victories of others. When you do that, you automatically make your friends in a better mood which makes you in a better mood, as well.

Happiness is contagious! We might as well celebrate others as much as we can. If you find out that your peer has won an award, celebrate with him! If your friend is the recipient of a local charity award, celebrate with her!

What is also awesome is that when you celebrate with others, they often celebrate with you in return. This, ladies and gentleman, will make you feel fantastic. You can’t go wrong with this one, period.

6. Listen to Your Spouse/Partner

God put someone in your life for a reason. You might as well listen to him or her.

I listen to my wife everyday. In fact, I often ask the following question to her, “Amanda, what are your thoughts about…” or “What am I missing about…” It is shocking what I hear back from her. Without her having much context and perspective, by the art of observation in my own nonverbal behavior and the behavior of others, she accurately gives me incredible insights which helps me out with living my life to the fullest.

I’m a firm believer that spouses are supposed to engage in interpersonal communication every day. I most definitely do and will continue doing it. You should do the same.

7. Give Yourself a Break from Technology

You can’t be in total equilibrium if your computerized devices control your life. You must get away from technology on a daily basis.[6]

How do you do that? This is my formula:

First, take this smartphone control test. It is only ten questions but this test will place you somewhere in the human robot cycle continuum.

If your score is between 25-30, take a break from the computer (or smartphone, pad, laptop/desktop) every twenty minutes and stop being on a computerized device after 8:00pm.

If you score between 30-35, still take a break every 20 minutes but stop being on these devices at 5:00pm.

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If you score more than 35, you need to take action immediately.

Limit computer use as much as possible throughout the day. Give yourself as many breaks from the computer as possible. Are you ready for the challenge?

8. Go Exercise

Go exercise at least three times a week. I don’t care if you need to workout early in the morning, late in the evening, on the weekends or during work days. Working out is absolutely imperative for you to live happy and peaceful life.

The stresses of the modern world are too much for you to neglect this important mindfulness exercise. When you go to the gym, you burn calories, focus on activities one step at a time, your mind relaxes, anxiety decreases, you sweat and often think about topics unrelated to your work place among many other benefits.

You must exercise at least three hours each week for optimum results. Why? Just take a look at all the benefits of regular exercising:

12 Benefits of Regular Exercise You Should Know

The Bottom Line

It’s in your best interest to learn and put these mindfulness exercises into practice. Now that our habitat has become too technological and many people just don’t want to unplug, engaging in daily prayer, celebrate your friends’ victories, and listening to your spouse are among the best ways to be mindful about what you are doing and how you are living.

It is possible to live a happy and peaceful life. It only depends on you.

Go exercise! Take a break from technology and invest in you! Life is too short for distractions.

More Resources About Mindfulness

Featured photo credit: Lesly Juarez via unsplash.com

Reference

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