Some poor eating habits are obviously bad for your health. No one denies that hitting the fast food drive-thru every day or consuming only pork rinds and soda is detrimental to your body. However, other bad habits may not be as glaringly obvious. In some cases, you may be engaging in bad eating habits camouflaged as good ones. Here are 12 eating habits you may not realize are damaging your health.
12. Avoiding Meal Planning
Finding time in your busy week to sit down and plan future meals can seem daunting. However, avoiding this task may cause you to consume unhealthy convenience foods when you find yourself hungry and in a time crunch. Planning ahead allows you to stock your refrigerator and pantry with nutritious foods that you can use to make wholesome meals and snacks. Meal planning does not have to be complicated. In many cases, simply giving thought to each night’s dinner before heading out the door in the morning can be helpful.
11. Frequently Eating on the Go
When rushing from one activity or event to another, you may find yourself eating in your car or while standing over the kitchen sink. While eating on the go may help you complete more obligations in one day, it won’t do your body any favors. Being rushed entices you to make unhealthy food choices. Furthermore, it prevents you from enjoying sitting down with loved ones to relax and share a meal. The Family Dinner Project suggests that sitting down to dinner lowers your risk of depression, obesity, and substance abuse. Added benefits are better grades and higher self-esteem.
10. Charring or Overcooking Meat
If you frequently overcook your meat or serve up charred steaks, you may be introducing toxic chemicals into your body. The National Cancer Institute reports that meat cooked at high temperatures can form chemicals that increase your risk of cancer. These chemicals, heterocyclic amines and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, form at high temperatures. Situations that may introduce these toxic substances include grilling and pan frying. To decrease the risk of toxic chemical formation, avoid overcooking your meat and trim away any charred portions.
9. Using Inappropriate Amounts of Fat
Healthy fats, such as the omega-3 fatty acids found in olive oil and avocados, are critical for a healthy brain and nervous system. Healthy fats may also help reduce inflammation, lower your cholesterol, and decrease your risk of heart disease. However, too much of any type of fat can lead to weight gain and the health risks associated with obesity. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends a healthy balance of omega-3 fatty acids and monounsaturated fats consumed in moderation.
8. Discarding Perfectly Good Food Past the “Sell-By” Date
Throwing out nutritious foods too early can be damaging to your wallet as well as to your health. It can be beneficial to check expiration dates on foods. However, it is important to realize that the dates printed on grocery items often refer to the dates at which those items are at their freshest. Just because an item should be sold by a certain date, it doesn’t necessarily go bad on that date. Inspect food for signs that it has gone bad before you discard it. Discoloration and a foul smell are two indications that a food is no longer safe to consume.Related: 10 Foods That Are Linked to Cancer
7. Avoiding Variety
They say variety is the spice of life. When it comes to meal planning, it can be tempting to fall into a rut of eating the same foods again and again. A willingness to try new things can introduce new flavors, textures, and enjoyment into your meals. Furthermore, by enjoying a wide variety of foods, you can provide your body with a wider variety of nutrients. Be willing to taste fruits and veggies that you have not yet experienced. Seek out new and interesting recipes that introduce new flavors and nutrients to your diet.
6. Never Consuming Egg Yolks
Eggs often get a bad rap for their cholesterol content. The scientific debate continues as to whether dietary cholesterol translates to higher cholesterol levels in your bloodstream. Meanwhile, the American Heart Association suggests that those who are not at risk for heart disease can enjoy eggs as a part of a healthy diet. Occasionally indulging in egg yolks as well as egg whites can provide your body with the benefits of choline, lutein, and zeaxanthin. These substances may be beneficial for your vision, nervous system, and metabolism.
5. Unnecessarily Consuming Only Gluten-Free Foods
While individuals with celiac disease should avoid consuming gluten, most of us do not need to stick to a gluten-free diet. Avoiding the carbohydrates found in bread can be beneficial to your health. Processed white bread is high in calories and low in fiber and nutrients. However, many of the gluten-free products available may be low in fiber, high in fat, and loaded with calories. Furthermore, avoiding whole grains can deprive your body of essential vitamins and minerals such as iron, folate, and B-vitamins.Related: 13 Amazing Possible Health Benefits of Eating Eggs
4. Oversalting Your Food
Pouring on the salt before you even taste your food can have negative consequences for your health. According to the Harvard School of Public Health, high levels of sodium can lead to several medical conditions. These conditions include high blood pressure, kidney disease, osteoporosis, and stomach cancer. To protect your health, taste your food before adding extra salt. Better yet, consider using herbs and spices to flavor your foods instead of simply reaching for the salt shaker. Garlic, onion powder, cayenne pepper, cumin, and oregano are just a few tasty spices that you may want to consider.
3. Skimping on Fruit
Since fruit contains sugar, you may think it wise to avoid consuming these sweet treats. However, avoiding fruit deprives your body of essential vitamins, minerals, and heart-protective antioxidants. While fruit contains natural sugars, it also contains fiber necessary for good digestion and promoting a feeling of fullness and satisfaction. It is beneficial to skip fruit juices with their high concentration of sugar and lack of fiber. However, enjoying a piece of whole fruit is a healthy way to enjoy a sweet dose of nutrients.
2. Thawing Frozen Foods at Room Temperature
When pulling food from the freezer to thaw, it can be tempting to set it on the counter to quickly thaw at room temperature. However, defrosting foods at room temperature can allow dangerous bacteria to grow. It is wiser to place your frozen foods in the refrigerator overnight to slowly thaw without allowing bacterial growth. Other methods for quickly defrosting foods include using your microwave or holding them under cold, running water. The USDA also recommends quickly defrosting foods by submerging them in cold water. This method requires changing the water every 30 minutes to ensure your frozen item thaws safely.
1. Eating Processed Foods
You know that fast foods and junk foods are bad for your body. However, even healthy-looking processed foods may contain added salt, sugar, and chemical ingredients. A frozen dinner consisting of pasta and veggies may look healthy, but be sure to check the label for less than desirable ingredients. A portion of lean turkey can be a healthy source of protein. However, you should use caution when considering purchasing processed, sliced deli turkey. Eating Well asserts that processed deli meats may be up to 400% higher in sodium than their unprocessed counterparts.Related: 11 Benefits of Kicking the Diet Soda Habit