I set out to write a blog on the nutrition mistakes even my most well-intentioned friends and clients make, but upon further review, I realized I’m guilty of committing them too! I first jumped on the Bulletproof Coffee trend then went right into the intermittent fasting craze. It wasn’t hard for me, because I was never a big breakfast eater. Fast-forward to today and I don’t think these helped my adrenal burnout and blood sugar issues.
Now, I’m working on having more substance throughout the day. I do a modified version of intermittent fasting, but I’m adding collagen to my coffee or matcha latte (in addition to MCT oil) and I’m making it a priority to add healthy protein and fat in the form of organic peanut butter with a more green banana (less sugar) or an avocado and hemp seeds in the morning. I’m also making it a priority to eat a well-balanced lunch.
The point is, we all make mistakes when it comes to our well-being. Here are some of the common ones I see and easy ways to fix them with a solution unique to you.
#1 Jumping on a health trend that’s simply not the right fit for you. I can think of many examples, but the one that seems relevant at this time is intermittent fasting. There are some people who just don’t benefit from intermittent fasting, in particular those who have adrenal fatigue or blood sugar concerns. In some cases, waiting so long to eat isn’t healthy at all; it can raise your cortisol and add to adrenal fatigue, with the potential of making it even more difficult to manage blood sugar levels.
#2 Being afraid of fat. Are we still afraid of fat? Strange enough, when I review the daily eating habits of many clients, the one component missing is the healthy fat. Many of us were raised on non-fat and low-fat foods, after all that was what was “healthy” in the 80’s and 90’s. It might be a push outside of your comfort zone to consume the amount of fat in an avocado without flinching, but healthy fats are essential to managing blood sugar levels, supporting a healthy metabolism, and providing satiation and energy. Fat burns long & slow, which is a very good thing for the body, while sugar burns fast – remember that. Now, this does not give you a pass to eat crappy saturated fats and cheap vegetable oils, I’m referring to healthy fat found in foods like wild salmon, avocado, MCT oil, coconut oil or milk, olive oil, avocado oil, walnut oil, nuts, seeds, ghee, and grass-fed butter in moderation.
#3 Eating too much protein
When it comes to macronutrients, it’s not hard at all to get your recommended daily intake of protein, if you’re eating whole foods. The RDA for protein is 46 grams for women and 56 grams for men. To put it in perspective, there are 15 grams of protein in a cup of cooked chickpeas, 18 grams in a cup of cooked edamame or lentils, and 20 in a cup of almonds. Protein in itself is likely not lacking in a wholefood plant-based diet. It’s a total myth that protein is hard to get in any diet that is based in whole foods! The deficiencies we see in vegans and vegetarians are on a micro level not a macronutrient level. They can be lower in certain amino acids that are more commonly found in animal proteins. Vegan/Vegetarians also can be lower in Vitamin D, B-12, Zinc, Iron, and Omega-3 fatty acids. This is the reason some vegans/vegetarians experience low energy, NOT lack of protein overall!
Most people probably get too much protein. In a cup of chicken, there are 44 grams, almost the entire RDA for an adult female. Most people I know far exceed that amount of animal protein in a day and can actually do harm. You can read more about my concerns with overdoing protein HERE.
#4 Eating right, exercising, but NOT emphasizing sleep. It happens a few times a year, a client comes in and they’re doing literally EVERYTHING right. As they go over their diet and exercise routine, I wonder if there is anything I can even offer them, I wonder how they could have any issues at all…then they get to the part about their sleep. They’re either not sleeping enough, or getting to bed so late that they’re missing out of restorative sleep. It’s impressive when a client is dedicated to eating well and being physically active, but there is no excuse to not prioritize sleep. There are no awards given for least amount of sleep needed to function or who can stay up the latest and wake up the earliest. Without proper sleep, all of your hard work and habits don’t get to shine. Your body has to rest, repair, and rejuvenate nightly. In scientific terms, poor sleep increases the stress hormone cortisol, which slows down production of growth hormone. This speeds up the aging process, slows down muscle repair and growth, increases appetite, and makes it more difficult to stay focused during your waking hours. It also makes it incredibly hard for the body to burn fat on little sleep. Read more HERE on how to go to bed earlier, get a good night’s sleep, and reap the benefits from doing so.
#5 Overdoing it with “healthy” sweeteners – including stevia
When stevia came on the market, it seemed like we’d all finally found the natural sweetener we could all put our faith in, myself included. In time, stevia became overused to the point that people have began developing serious sensitivities including cold like symptoms of sneezing with a runny nose, stomach pain, and feeling “stevia fatigue” post consumption.
It’s not just stevia, there are issues with almost every natural sweetener on the market: agave nectar and high fructose, xylitol and monk fruit and digestive issues, honey and blood sugar, no matter what “healthy” sweetener we use, we still need to use them in moderation and learn to minimize when we can. Lately I’ve been trying to mix up my sweetener options by using monk fruit, yacon root, and lucuma.
#6 Eating the same thing day in and day out
I know it can make life a little less complicated to eat the same thing every day, but by limiting your options you’re limiting your nutrients too. Can you believe I’ve had clients who ate the same rotation of lunch for years?! While they were eating their chicken breast, rice, and broccoli they were missing out on tons of superfoods and nutrients. Mixing up your fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and leafy greens is a great way to keep your system balanced as well as reduces food sensitivities. Eating a variety in addition to eating well-balanced meals is important. At the very least, if you’re a committed creature of habit, add in a green juice blend daily to boost your nutrients.
#7 Taking too many supplements
There are some clients who walk into my office with a giant bag of supplements. I can’t help but wonder how they can fit anything else into their stomach when they have so many pills a day to take. Its feels very overwhelming and it is. Supplements are just that, supplements to a healthy lifestyle. They are wonderful for helping to replace vitamins or minerals that you may be deficient in, but taking too many can actually have negative affect. It’s an expensive, unnecessary habit that can lead to stomach pain, over-dosing on vitamins and minerals, and you can perpetuate health issues.
Here is a great article to learn about safely taking supplements: https://www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/can-you-take-too-many-supplements
#8 Obsessing and stressing about your health & nutrition
This mistake is probably going to become an entirely separate blog post, because I’ve done it myself. It’s a common issue in my industry and needs to be explored a little more than I can go into in this post, but I want to touch on it briefly.
When a healthy lifestyle and clean diet become an obsession or a stress, we have a problem. I don’t want you to have anxiety around food, that is counterproductive to your well being, but it’s a negative outcome of absorbing SO much information day in and day out. We can’t help but become a little caught up in kale, kefir, superfood powders and everything in between. If you can’t manage a day without having healthy options (for example an airport travel day means you just don’t eat anything), you may need to take a step back. If the fear of eating a food that doesn’t meet your “perfect” standards stresses you out to the point of not eating at all, or you find that you have no balance it could be time to reevaluate your diet.
Stress is behind chronic health issues such as autoimmune disease, adrenal fatigue, mental health, and gut health issues and it’s not to be taken lightly. I have some tips to share and will delve into my mindfulness practice -that helps me to relieve stress and obsession around health and food, in another post. There are some really great practices that you can incorporate to help you find balance.