Posted on 04/12/2016 at 10:58 AM by YMCA of Greater Des Moines
With so much information at our fingertips, it’s hard to sort through fact and fiction when you’re trying to make healthy lifestyle changes. Watch out for these five behaviors which are often hailed as healthy choices but might not be all they’re cracked up to be.
"I’m saving on the calories and tablespoons of sugar in normal sodas, so I deserve a pat on the pack," you tell yourself. Not so fast. "Artificial sweeteners trigger insulin, which sends your body into fat storage mode and leads to weight gain," registered dietitian Brooke Alpert explains. Artificial sweeteners can also dull our senses to naturally sweet foods like fruit, and diet sodas are linked to an increased risk of Type 2 diabetes. Water too boring for you? Try sparkling water or flavoring your H2O with fresh lemons, oranges, cucumbers or berries.
Say it isn’t so! A study in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism "found that the greater the mismatch in sleep timing between weekdays and weekends, the higher the metabolic risk," The New York Times reports. "Sleeping late on days off was linked to lower HDL (good) cholesterol, higher triglycerides, higher insulin resistance and higher body mass index." It’s not certain if this is a long-term effect, but in the meantime, you may want to try and maintain as consistent a sleep schedule as possible and shoot for seven to nine hours each night.
Sure, some all natural juice drinks contain important vitamins, but the high sugar content and removal of fiber from the equation poses a problem. "Juice is liquid, so it doesn’t have to go through as much processing before it hits your bloodstream, where it can spike your sugar levels," registered dietitian Beth Warren explains.
"Fruit juice is absorbed very fast," Susan Jebb of Cambridge University adds, "so by the time it gets to your stomach your body doesn’t know whether it’s Coca-Cola or orange juice, frankly." Researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health found that people who drank fruit juice had an 8 percent increased risk of getting Type 2 diabetes. Opt for munching on whole fruit, or try making smoothies instead so you’re not discarding all the fiber — bonus points if you add some leafy greens to your mix.
You might think it’s not a big deal to swap out your lunch for an energy bar, but "a lot of them are nothing more than glorified candy bars," registered dietitian Sari Greaves argues. "They can be packed with enriched white flour, high fructose corn syrup, and other sweeteners." Some varieties are better than others, though, so if you need a snack, opt for bars with a short list of ingredients you can actually pronounce. Greaves says to look for fewer than 15 grams of sugar, less than 2 grams of saturated fat, at least 3 grams of fiber and at least 5 grams of protein.
One of McDonald’s new kale salads has more calories, fat and sodium than a Double Big Mac, CBC News reports, so no, opting for the lettuce-based dish isn’t always a healthy choice. Mickey D’s isn’t the only provider of unhealthy "health foods." We might start out with good intentions in the form of leafy greens on our plate, but once you add dressings loaded with fat, sugar and calories, plus cheese and crispy chicken, your salad plate isn’t doing your body many favors. Avoid processed dressings and opt for olive oil or balsamic vinegar mixed with herbs. Limit the amount of toppings you add and try to incorporate nutrient-rich ingredients like nuts, seeds, fruits and veggies.
What are some health traps you’ve fallen for and how did you adjust your behavior? Share your tips with the Y community!