5 Nutrition Mistakes You Should Avoid (You're Probably Making One!)
Been here before? You've cleaned up your eating habits. Maybe tried Paleo or Whole30 or a plant-based diet. You experienced the magic of it when you first started: reduced inflammation, skin cleared up, felt better energy, started sleeping better, and maybe even lost a little bit of weight!
Yet here we are, and it's not as unicorns-and-rainbows as it used to be. It's that dreaded plateau! Maybe you tried a new workout regimen and you're not feeling as great as you used to. Or, perhaps you're still not seeing the health results you want, despite all the hard work you're putting in.
If it's a matter of nutrition, it could be that you're not getting a sufficient mix of nutrients, which leads you to feel a little run down or even causes you to eat more. Let's find out what could be going wrong or what's missing.
Could you be making any of these 5 Nutrition Mistakes?
Most people are making at least one!
Mistake #1: The Meal Routine
Many people get into a rhythm with their healthy meal choices and stick with it: a green smoothie for breakfast, a salad for for lunch, and roasted broccoli and chicken for dinner. You could also be making this mistake if you stick to a certain meal every week (remember how, growing up, Monday night was spaghetti night?). Our food routines can get pretty boring. Let's get more vitamins and minerals with new foods and start feeling better!
THE FIX: Take a food adventure! Go to the grocery store and pick out one new food every single week. You can cruise the internet or Pinterest to get some inspiration on how to prepare it. If you're not feeling that brave, you can always add a twist to an existing part of your meal. For example, if you normally pack a spinach salad for lunch every day, try arugula or butter lettuce as an easy swap for variety. Bonus points if you experiment with bitter vegetables like mustard or dandelion greens. They're great for digestion and detox, yet we don't get a lot of bitter in our diets.
Mistake #2: Everything Is the Same Color
This is a common issue we notice when working with clients on dialing in their nutrition. Often, everything they eat is some shade of white or brown, with an occasional green or red food thrown in.
Pick the color you eat the least of, and make a conscious effort to get more of that every day. Yes, this takes specific planning and effort. But it's worth it and one of the simplest ways to ensure you're getting a good mix of vitamins and minerals without having to measure and write down everything you eat. Most people don't get enough of the purple-blue-black food family, and once you have your least-eaten color locked in, expand to the other colors: yellow, orange, green, red, blue/purple/black, white/brown.
Mistake #3: Too Few or Too Little Carbs
A big reason why you might feel less than great is too many or too few carbs. The wrong mix of carbs (and as a result, protein & fat) leaves you feeling sleepy. Or, you're not recovering from workouts very well, or weight loss has stalled. Yes - you could be gaining weight or plateau-ing if you're too low carb! The wrong carb mix can create havoc on the thyroid and adrenals, leading to sleep disruption or classic low thyroid symptoms like constantly feeling cold.
Get a food tracking app like LoseIt! and log your food intake for at least one day. How'd you feel today? Tired? Brain foggy? Moody? Wake up at 2am? Feel just right? Now write down your mix of carbs - protein - fat from that day. A good starting point is a calorie percentage of 40% - 30% - 30%, and then adjust from there. Don't drive yourself crazy here because a ballpark is good enough. Use the day that you tracked and slightly modify your carb intake up or down the next day to see if you feel any better.
Still daunting? Log a single meal's worth of calories (and the carb-protein-fat calorie percentages) and pay attention to how you feel in the 2 hours after. Usually if you feel sleepy after you eat, that's too many carbs. Then you'll know how to adjust even by the meal. And no, we're not big fans of calorie-counting... this is all about the rough macronutrient that works uniquely for you!
Mistake #4: Using The Wrong Oil
Fact: hydrogenated and trans fats are bad for you. But how about that container of olive oil that was left out in the sun? Or the avocado oil that's been in your pantry for 3 years? Also bad for you.
Eating bad fats, including rancid fats, contributes to poor signaling between cells, allowing substances in and out of the cell that wouldn't normally be allowed into a healthy one - it means cell damage. Rancid fats are also chemically unstable, with free radicals that steal from other molecules to become balanced again. This electron theft means damage to those other molecules - in other words, damage to the cell or DNA and poor cell function. The effects show as degeneration, aging and skin wrinkles, Alzheimers, diabetes, and other conditions tied to chronic inflammation.
Avoid trans and hydrogenated fats altogether. Know which oils are appropriate for cooking, based on the temperature, since oils heated too hot can generate free radicals and rancidity. Store oils in cool, dark places and throw them away when they become rancid. Here are two great guides: Which type of oil to use | How long cooking oils keep in storage
Mistake #5: Sticking To The Paleo, AIP, Whole30, Vegan, or _____ Diet
When you start a nutrition plan and stick to it to a tee, you're assuming you're exactly everyone else out there. But you're not - and your nutrition plan shouldn't be either! Although some of these are sustainable for long periods of time, some of them aren't meant to be forever. Done the wrong way, you could find yourself in a nutrient-depleted rut while still eating healthy, yet still feeling blah. It's like putting your shoes on but not tying up the laces.
Conquer your fear of going off plan and personalize your nutrition plan. Determine what you can tolerate and introduce those foods back into your diet. Maybe you can handle beans occasionally without any negative effects. Or gluten-free grains, or maybe eggs or tomatoes. Try a small amount and just take note if you have any reactions. If this is scary or challenging for you, get guidance from a nutritionist.
These nutrition plans serve a great purpose for resetting your eating habits and even kicking a relentless sugar addiction. Stick to them for about a month (longer if you like), but think of the introductory period as the first step. Step 2: The real fun and power of food is in making it yours!
How many of these nutrition mistakes are you making? Schedule a free 15-minute introductory session with a Summit Coach and get help to super-charge your nutrition and eating habits.