The beginning of a new year is always a good time to set new resolutions and improve your lifestyle.
If you want to improve your health and well-being, you'll already know that food choices are fundamental, but be careful: even if you try to adopt an healthy and balanced diet, you could make mistakes.
Here are the most common diet mistakes and our tips in order to avoid them
1. Cut carbs and follow a high protein diet
Often healthy eating or weight loss diets are linked to no carbs.
The big mistake is to believe that carbohydrates make you gain weight, while food containing proteins are lean and healthy. This is not true. For example, eating large amounts of animal proteins makes gain weight and fat, that is not healthy at all.
Whole bread or pasta, fruits, vegetables and grains contain different kind of sugars, starches and fibres. They don't make you gain weight, if you choose the right foods (fresh, whole, not processed, local, organic) and follow a balanced diet.
Instead of cutting out carbs altogether, the good choice is to eat foods that have better nutritional value like brown rice, beans, quinoa, sweet potatoes, and fruit avoiding sweets or foods derived from refined flour.
How can I prepare a well-balanced meal?
Simply imagine your plate divided into three parts:
- half made of fruits and/or vegetables
- a fourth made of protein (pulses, nuts etc)
- a fourth made of carbohydrate (grains, whole bread, sweet potatoes etc)
2. Always eating the same things
It’s easy to eat the same things over and over. When we are convinced that some kind of food like greens or rice are "safe" we tend to eat it in abundance, depriving ourselves of a wide variety of foods and making the diet dull and monotonous.
A balanced diet means: eating a wide variety of foods, avoiding nutritional deficiencies, choosing healthy foods and at the same time satisfying our tastes.
If you want to eat clean and healthy and balanced do not deprive yourself of what you like; you would not be able to stick with your diet for a long time. Learn to recognize healthier foods from the less healthy one and occasionally treat yourself! You will be happy, satisfied and at the same time in great shape.
3. Choosing whole flour products, paying no attention to the nutritional tab
Choosing whole grains and products derived from whole wheat flour is the right choice. These foods are rich in fibre, with a greater quantity of proteins than those derived from refined flours and with a much lower glycemic index.
But beware: products derived from whole wheat flour, such as bread and whole biscuits, are not necessarily healthier. They often contain a mix of different flours, including refined ones, added sugars and fats and may be less healthy than common bread. For this reason, it is important to read the list of ingredients to be aware of what we eat.
Avoid products containing added sugar, additives, preservatives, colorants and hydrogenated fats, instead choose natural foods, cereal grains and wholemeal bread, with no added sugar or fat.
Limit refined sugars intake. If you cannot live without sweets, prepare an homemade cake for example, with clean ingredients you choose.
4. Believing that calories are the key
Many people think that the nutritional value of a food is expressed in calories. If you want to lose weight, you have to reduce calories. This is certainly true, but in this way, we underestimate completely the nutritional value of nutrients contained in foods and their effect on our health and our weight.
Two foods can have exactly the same calories, but one can be rich in refined sugars and the other can be rich in fibres, proteins, vitamins and good quality fats. The second will be more complete from a nutritional point of view and will give you more satiety and energy, with equal calories. For this reason, it is not a good choice to replace a meal with a slice of cake!
Calories are important, but ultimately, it's more important to focus on the quality and quantity of what you eat.
Being more conscious of your food can help you making better decisions and turn healthy eating into a habit.
5. Eating too much fruits
In a healthy diet fruit certainly cannot lack. Fruit is rich in fibres, vitamins, minerals and water, but also contains a good content of simple sugars. The common mistake is to eat a large amount of fruit without considering its content of sugars. An even more serious error is to abuse extracts or smoothies, which are very trendy, but being deprived of the fibres have an even greater sugar content than the whole fruit.
A general and well-know advice would be to consume two or three servings of fruit per day.
If you want to lose weight consume the whole fruit, when possible also with the peel: it is more satiating and less rich in sugars (choose bio-organic, seasonal and local!).
If you are an athlete, you can definitely eat a little more and consume smoothies or juices after your workouts to favour muscle recovery and fill your body of powerful antioxidants.
6. Being afraid of fats
It is often believed that fats make you fatter and for this reason should be cut from the diet. It is true that compared to carbohydrates and protein fats contain more calories, but we also mentioned that it is a mistake to consider only the calories. When we talk about fats it is very important to consider quality. Some types of fats are in fact bad for your health, while others helping to prevent certain types of diseases and it would be a mistake to cut them.
Avoid the saturated fats (contained in animals derived, for example).
Instead, every day, get some good fats (unsaturated fats) from nuts and seeds, vegetable oils or avocado. It will help you regulate blood sugar levels and to maintain a good sense of satiety throughout the day.
7. Eating too much after workout
If after training you eat too much, all your efforts and fatigue will be vain and wasted.
The best choice is to have an healthy and balanced snack before training and to take just the essential nutrients to recovery after training, within 30 minutes (there are specific recovery products that satisfy your hunger and give your body what it needs to repair).
Remember that hydration is the most important thing when you train, and you have to keep hydrating yourself also after workout.
So what are you waiting for?
Start improving your diet and lifestyle NOW!
Written by NutriCoach Dott. Francesca Deriu