There’s a lot of misinformation out in the world that’s been masquerading as “healthy” when it’s anything but for your hard-working heart!
Heart disease is the #1 killer in the world for both men and women – claiming 1-in-3 lives annually. Those numbers are expected to go up due to rising epidemics of diabetes and obesity.
You need to know the truth behind a few “heart-healthy” nutrition myths so you can nip them in the bud right now.
6 Lifestyle and Eating Habits to Avoid (You Think Are Good for You)
#1 Artificial Sweeteners
For decades, artificial sweeteners have pretended to be healthy. Our worldwide addiction to sugar saw the demand for something to replace real sugar. In the beginning, these products were considered a healthy alternative to sugar and the best way to keep off the pounds.
All the initial health claims about artificial sweeteners have been debunked. Not only are they filled with toxic chemicals, researchers discovered that drinking a diet soda daily raises your risk of obesity, metabolic syndrome, and diabetes.
You have to kick the sugar for good but if you need something sweet, consider a natural option such as raw honey.
#2 Binge Exercising
You want to make working out a part of your daily life but you just can’t seem to stick to it. Every so often, you wake up on the weekend inspired! You get out of bed and decide you’re going to hit the gym or go for a run.
You work out hard. It feels good so you do something outside and moving around for your down-time as well. You think to yourself, “This is good. I’m going to change everything.”
The next morning, you can barely move. Going from a sedentary lifestyle to full-on training for a triathlon can leave you injured, trigger a heart event, or put you out of commission for days, weeks, or months. This is especially true for men and women over 40.
If you rarely exercise, start slow with something low-impact. Build up gradually and be consistent. It doesn’t have to be crazy! Random workouts that burn 800 calories don’t mean much if you hurt yourself…or worse.
#3 Low-Fat Foods
When it comes to supposedly “healthy” eating habits to avoid, eating “low-fat” foods is one of the worst. The vilification of fats (all fats – the good and the bad) has led us to the unhealthiest period of human history.
Low-fat manufactured foods remove healthy, harmless fats and replace them with chemical additives to still make the product taste good. The biggest additive is sugar and your body digests it too quickly for sustainable energy. The sugar crash leads to more foods to try and keep you going…but your body isn’t getting what it needs.
Whole, nutritious foods that contain fat naturally won’t hurt you. More importantly, your body needs fat! Your brain, liver, lungs, and cell membranes utilize healthy fats more efficiently than chemicals or added sugar and they’re going to satisfy your hunger longer.
#4 Skipping Meals
I know it’s hard to eat regular meals in our fast-paced world. You skip breakfast because you’re not a morning person or you’re running late. Once in a while, you work through lunch. By the time dinner comes around, you’re starving and feel desperate.
Maybe you go through a drive-through, have something delivered, or pop some pre-made meal in the microwave. Even if you’re motivated to make something fresh, you eat so quickly that you eat more than usual. An hour after dinner, you find you’re snackish again.
Your body requires fuel. Healthy, consistent food it can use to power all the crazy systems happening inside you every minute of every day.
Let’s say your body requires 2,000 calories daily to function at peak. Whether you eat those calories spread out over meals and snacks, or you eat them right before bed, your body wants them and won’t leave you alone until you deliver.
Intermittent fasting researchers determined that your body processes those calories the same way – no matter if you eat them in one meal or four. The difference is your food choices. If you’re starving, you’re going to grab quick, easy, comfort foods rather than wait for nutritious options.
#5 Cheat Weekends
If you’re working hard to change your diet and lifestyle habits, you deserve to enjoy a favorite treat or meal on the weekends.
However, studies have found that men and women who eat nutritiously during the week tend to eat at least 300 calories more per day on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. It can sabotage your work-week efforts and leave you wondering why you’re not seeing the weight loss you expected.
A truly successful nutrition plan leaves you satisfied – not miserable. If you crave a bit of chocolate on Tuesday, allow yourself to have it. Continued denial sets you up to fail.
#6 Eating and Multi-Tasking
I’m personally guilty of this eating habit to avoid. Working from home, it’s easy for me to grab a small plate for lunch and sit at my desk. I eat without really paying attention (and too quickly) so I can get back to what I need to do.
This habit is even worse while relaxing in front of the television or at the movies. You don’t notice how much of that barrel of popcorn you’ve eaten or that you’ve managed to down half of your soda bucket. If you have a bag of chips open beside you while you work or play video games, you might not realize how many you grab unconsciously until the bag is gone.
Portioning out snacks and sweets is critical if you’re otherwise engaged. It forces you to stop at a point that’s healthier than your brain allows when left unchecked.
9 Well-Known Bad Habits – That Are Still Problems!
Unfortunately, we’re still doing the same old things most people struggle with so let’s do a quick run-down of lifestyle and eating habits to avoid for the sake of your entire body (especially your heart)!
1. Adding salt to your food (and getting far more than you realize)
2. Upsizing your meals, drinks, and adding extras (like apps and sides)
3. Sitting all the time
4. Too much sugar consumption (check those beverages!)
5. Smoking (we all know this one) and excess alcohol (moderation is key)
6. Leaving anxiety, depression, and overall stress unaddressed
7. Not enough water (even infused)
8. Inadequate sleep
9. Neglecting oral hygiene (particularly flossing)
Avoiding eating habits that wear down your body and replacing them with good personal behaviors that help you feel better and stronger is just good sense. Even a few days or weeks of unhealthy eating can impact your brain cognition, physical endurance, blood sugar levels, digestion, mood, and sleep quality.
Imagine how you’ll feel if it carries on for years…