Once upon a time, the word “diet” was only associated with weight loss and eating disorder behaviors. Thank goodness, times are finally changing. In recent years, science and technology have taught us so much about all of the ways that nutrition and specific foods can alter the entire function and overall health of our human systems. We now know that the foods we choose to put in our bodies can positively or negatively affect so much more than just our weight, metabolism or cholesterol levels. We are quickly learning that we must view diet as an individualized, life-long health plan, rather than just a means to lose weight.
Of course most of us have experienced the feeling of wanting to shed a few extra pounds, especially after the holiday season. Unfortunately, many look to a quick, fix-it diet, creating a shock to their bodies. This often results in putting the lost weight right back on, confusing the healthy metabolic functionality of the body. To avoid this so-called yo-yo dieting and negative consequences to our health, let’s make 2016 the year to focus on a proper long-term nutritional diet that is right for our individual bodies by avoiding the following harmful eating habits that so many of us fall victim to:
Skipping breakfast – Talk about mindless! The mornings can be chaotic, whether we’re trying to get more zzz’s or we have children to feed, dress and get off to school before embarking on our adult responsibilities. Forgetting our own health needs can be very easy and skipping the most important meal of the day is a common one. Why is breakfast so important? This is the meal that ignites our energy, gets our metabolism going and kick starts our brainpower. Without it we can feel weak, tired and sluggish, all the while depriving our bodies of vital nutrients.
Eating out of the package – We live in a packaged food society. Rushed eating or eating on the go can mean skipping the actual purpose of a meal, eating real food. Eating fake processed, packaged food heightens the possibility of eating more than one serving or consuming foods we didn’t plan on eating. Even if we are snacking on something healthy, like mixed nuts, eating more than a recommended serving can translate to consuming too many calories or too much fat (even if it’s the good kind). The best options for snacks and meals are to choose foods that actually exist in nature with minimal processing. Here’s a grocery store secret: Shop mostly around the perimeter of the grocery stores where all the fresh food is, instead of in the middle where all the packaged stuff is.
Eating foods that make you feel bad – Because our bodies all work differently, we each have different sensitivities to certain foods. Some foods make people gassy, some cause acid indigestion, some can lead to acne breakouts. While there are easy to identify reactions caused by certain foods, others can be harder to identify and can often lead to more serious reactions or damage to our bodies. Scientific research over the last few years has shown that foods such as gluten-containing grains, dairy and genetically modified foods (GMOs) to be among a few that are negatively affecting masses of people. In fact, studies have proven that there are dietary-related triggers of autoimmune reactivity, resulting in neurological, behavioral, dermatological, and gastrointestinal symptoms that can lead to autoimmune disorders.
Rather than continuing to eat foods that your body reacts poorly to, get to the root of the problem by learning what your specific triggers are. There are tests that can identify these triggers and reactivity to foods that your body should not consume.
Too much dining out – Even when we think we are ordering smart, there are often hidden ingredients that can be counterproductive to our overall health. For example, you can order vegetable soup without really knowing what kind of flavor enhancers they included or how much salt was added. Don’t lose sight of the fact that restaurants want their food to taste good and keep customers coming back for more, so they tend to pack in excess amounts of sugar, salt, fat, and even synthetic coloring and flavoring agents. Cooking at home ensures you have a more complete understanding of what you’re putting in your body.
Buying no-no foods – Everybody knows that you should never go grocery shopping on an empty stomach. That’s a recipe for disaster. Everything sounds good when we are hungry, thus making us more inclined to buy things that we know we shouldn’t. Out of sight, out of mind. If it’s not available to us, we can’t eat it. Try grocery shopping on a full stomach and focus on buying foods that are good for you, on your shopping list, and that you need—rather than the more indulgent items that catch your eye while you shop.
Today’s busy lifestyle makes it very easy to fall into a pattern of mindless eating habits that can be harmful to our health. Awaken yourself to your patterns and how your body might be reacting to different foods and eating habits. Let 2016 be the beginning of a healthier you!
About the Author
By Dr. Chad Larson, NMD, DC, CCN, CSCS, Advisor and Consultant on Clinical Consulting Team for Cyrex Laboratories.
Dr. Larson holds a Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine degree from Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine and a Doctor of Chiropractic degree from Southern California University of Health Sciences. He is a Certified Clinical Nutritionist and a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist. He particularly pursues advanced developments in the fields of endocrinology, orthopedics, sports medicine, and environmentally-induced chronic disease.