I hate to see people unaware of the fattening “health” foods they’re eating. Every Christmas somebody gets engaged, and every Spring Break the bikinis are near the front of the store. With all of these weddings and beaches to go to, everybody suddenly becomes concerned about fitting into their new outfits. Unfortunately, these trends are usually designed for failure. Shocking, right?
- Salads: This is the number one mistake I see out there. You go out to eat and you order a salad for yourself, thinking of how healthy you are being. Wrong! The dressing, croutons, and cheese are killing you! My Dad bought me a Chicken Caesar Salad while I was on Spring Break, since he knows I like to make “healthy decisions.” However, I took a glance at the nutritional information and noticed that if I ate the entire salad, that would be close to 800 calories! Holy crap! I could have 2.5 McDonald’s cheeseburgers for that! I scraped the croutons off of that sucker and dipped my fork in the dressing before I took a bite (I did NOT pour the dressing all over my salad). I ended upon only using 1/6 of the dressing and consuming only 270 calories (I even kept the cheese on there, score!).
- Drinks: Drinks are LOADED with extra calories, not to mention the sugar and other crap that is not helping your body out at all. A medium sweet tea from Sonic or McDonald’s is 180 calories alone, and a 12 ounce coke is 140 calories. Simply drinking a few of these throughout the day can add enough calories to equal an entire meal, without satiating your hunger at all. Notice I am only talking about how fattening these items are; I’m not even talking about how harmful they are to your health!
Even diet soda is doing you no favors, since it has been correlated through research to increase your risk for metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome includes abdominal obesity, elevated blood pressure, low HDL cholesterol, and high fasting glucose and triglycerides. In other words, you’re still likely to gain belly fat and be unhealthy. Another study found that individuals who drink diet soda daily were 67 percent more likely to develop type II diabetes. Research has found no significant connections between diet sodas and weight loss; in fact, there are many more solid correlations between diet soda and obesity.
3. Granola/Protein/Power bars: Biggest. Jokes. Ever. You might as well be eating a candy bar. Many of them are loaded with sugar, unhealthy carbs, and white flour. For example, the Special K Chocolatey Chip Meal Bar has trans fats (even though the label says it doesn’t- don’t get me started on FDA Requirements for labels!), 4 teaspoons of sugar, refined flours, and butylated hydroxytoluene, which research says might be a carcinogen (cancer-causing). Not only are these bars not helpful to your help, they also don’t usually satiate your hunger for long!
4.“Multi-grain:” Okay, so many people read “multi-grain” and think that sounds healthier. I mean, they’re grains, right? However, these could be any kind of grains, and rarely, if ever, are whole grains. Whole grains are sooo important. The Mayo Clinic states that half of your grain intake should be whole grains because they lower the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and certain cancers. They are also rich in fiber, which helps you feel full longer. Refined grains (“white” bread) are no longer complex carbohydrates, so our bodies digest them as sugar. If you’re making an effort to be healthy (WHICH YOU SHOULD BE!!!), you do not want to make the mistake of thinking you’re helping yourself by purchasing “multi-grains.” These are advertiser’s ways of pick-pocketing you. Stick with whole grains to deprive advertisers of your hard-earned cash. A good rule of thumb is that one serving of whole grains should have at least two grams of fiber.
Now, clearly I have only touched on a very few of these “diet-busters.” There are literally millions out there to confuse you. You’re going to make mistakes, and you’re going to learn as you go. Read your labels, look up ingredients on CREDIBLE online sources, and ask a professional if you need to.
Personally, I like to cheat a little bit. If you have a smartphone, I highly recommend the “Fooducate” app. This new-fangled thing allows you to scan a food’s bar code with your phone, and it tells you if it is harmful and why. I love it!
Now, obviously you shouldn’t deprive yourself all of the time. If you really love sweet tea, soda, granola bars, white bread, ranch dressing, etc., make them a treat and not a habit. Honestly, if I’m going to consume 800 calories when I’m going out to eat, I’d rather have a great burger than a skimpy salad drenched in Ranch.
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Did you know that nearly a 1/3 of cancer risk can be prevented through exercise? It’s true! In fact, the American Cancer Society claims that if you eat right and don’t smoke you have factored out over half of the cancerous options available to you. I came across this information last night while studying for my nutrition quiz. My roommate and I were revolted by one of the pages that showed pictures of lung, mouth, and skin cancer (yes, life with me can be both nerdy and disgusting). Looking at these pictures made me wonder, why don’t people exercise if the benefits are so life changing?
ACS points out that simply being overweight causes your body to circulate more estrogen and insulin, which are known to increase risks of cancer when they are in higher doses. Thus, staying trim is important to reducing cancer risks. How do we do that? NOT by taking expensive dieting pills, lying on the couch, or wishing we were born athletes, but by eating a variety of healthy foods and exercising regularly-yes, REGULARLY.
Let’s start with nutrition. You have all heard to cut back on sugar, processed foods, empty calories, etc., but what does this actually look like? A good way to start is by reducing your intake of sugary drinks. Even “diet” sodas aren’t good for you, and the American Stroke Association found that drinking diet sodas daily increases your risk of heart disease by over 60%. Yikes!
Second, eat your food on smaller plates. Some people actually have a habit of putting food on their plate until it is full. Making the plate smaller might make you feel more satiated with less food. Now, I am completely opposed to starving yourself, so remember that if you’re still hungry you can always get more.
Eating more fruits and vegetables really is important, since these foods contain anti-oxidants. Anti-oxidants prevent oxidation in the body’s molecules, which prevents free radical atoms from proliferating. Free radicals are highly unstable, cancerous, and spread over time. Eating more anti-oxidant rich foods will help prevent this from happening. Besides, vegetables are so pretty!
Now, for exercise, don’t be scared. Do yourself a favor and do something you will enjoy. Seriously! My exercise science professor was lecturing on Thursday about how people only stick with exercises they enjoy doing. If you like to dance, there are so many different options available (Latin, ballroom, “club,” Zumba, etc.). Find one you like and stick with it or experiment with them all! If you’re really stressed out, kick box, lift weights, run, take yoga, or try pilates. There are so many options out there; if you’re really looking you WILL find something you enjoy.
The American Institute for Cancer Research suggests 30 minutes of exercise for every day. This is about the length of a TV episode, but with no commercials! Also, exercise doesn’t have to be expensive, but even if you do shell out a few dollars it beats increasing the risk of medical bills later on down the road.
Thompson, J., & Manore M. (2012). Nutrition: An Applied Approach. San Francisco, CA: Pearson Education, Inc.
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