Eating right and trying to stay healthy is not an easy job, especially in today’s world where you have information thrown at you from every direction about what to eat, how to eat it, when to eat it, etc. This can topple the best of our intentions.
As a registered dietitian, Bridgette Zeitlin sees a lot of patients who come to her with health goals, and she also sees how they succeed and what makes them fail. One of the biggest pitfalls, she says, is that people put too much pressure on themselves in the pursuit to do the “healthy” thing, which can set them up for failure, or at the very least add on unnecessary challenges in their journey.
Here are 5 such things that the dietitian says you should stop doing, even if you think that it’s the right thing to do:
1. Not Eating What You Crave
That’s right, you shouldn’t be depriving yourself of your favorite foods, even if they may not exactly be the healthiest choice.
Cultivating a healthy body also means having a healthy mind. Constantly feeling guilty about what you want to eat can lead to feelings of anxiety and stress. And what’s more, is that you’ll probably reach a point where you just can’t hold yourself back anymore. This is when you’ll binge-eat or overeat, bringing on more feelings of guilt and perpetuating an endless cycle of bad choices.
Instead, Zeitlin says that you should adopt the rule of “most of the time”, where you vow to eat nutritious and fresh foods for most meals, and then sometimes give in to whatever you’re craving for, even if it isn’t the healthiest of foods. As a dietitian, she says that not feeling anxious over your food choices will help you reach your health goals much faster.
2. Taking All The Media BS Too Seriously
It seems like there’s not a day that goes by when a new fad diet or superfood is “discovered”, and that some Instagram model or talk show anchor swears that it 100% works. The next time you hear about some crazy new diet trend, ask yourself this: “Does it sound too good to be true?” or “Does this sound like torture?”
If the answer to either of those questions is “yes”, it’s probably not worth it.
Let’s be clear, there’s no magic pill or ingredient that is a one-size-fits-all solution. The only way to reach your health goals is through long-term commitment and self-control. You need to eat right, incorporating plenty of nutritious fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins. Exercising and giving up on unhealthy lifestyle choices like drinking too much or sleeping too late are also important. Most importantly, you need to listen to your own body, because that’s far better than listening to some stranger on the TV or internet.
3. Not Enough Self-Care
Registered dietitian Bridgette Zeitlin says that anyone in her position only strives to help their clients reach their health goals, but not at the cost of their mental health. The “go hard or go home” attitude is only likely to nudge you towards the latter. When you are hyperfocused on this one goal, it can make you feel disconnected from what’s actually happening. You’ll stop noticing the little changes that do occur, or whether these changes are meeting your needs, and what impact they’re having on your mental health and everything else around you like work, relationships, etc.
Zeitlin says that the best approach is to loosen the reins and save some energy for self-care. When you feel good, you feel energized and content with yourself and the progress you’re making. So carve some time out for self-care. Read a good book, book a spa day, take a yoga class, spend time with your favorite people, or even have a meal at your favorite restaurant.
4. Meal Prep Mania
There’s no denying that eating homemade meals is the best way to control what goes into your food, and the best choice for your body. But that doesn’t mean you have to do every single little thing yourself. Spending too much time on meal prep can make it seem tedious, tiring, and boring.
Zeitlin suggests going the “semi-homemade” route. What this means is that you buy pre-prepared ingredients like cut-up vegetables, pre-shredded zoodles, frozen meatballs, rotisserie chicken, pre-made cauliflower pizza crust, etc. This way, you’ll be able to whip up something quick and semi-homemade in a jiff. This can help you cut down significantly on prep, cooking, and cleaning. In the end, you’re less likely to feel too lazy to make the effort and just resort to takeout because you already have half the ingredients prepped and ready to go.
5. Focusing on Food Alone
Many people with health goals tend to put their razor-focus on food and food alone. Let me tell you this, that’s not enough to help you reach what you set out to achieve. You need to be thinking about the bigger picture because being healthy or losing weight involves a lot more than just diet.
You need to take a minute every day to check in with yourself. Ask yourself if you’re sleeping well, if you’re feeling content with yourself, if you’re dealing well with stress, if you have enough physical activity, etc. The last of those is particularly important, not just for your physical health, but also for your mental health as well. If you find that any of you’re answers are lacking, take the steps needed to resolve the issue.