It shouldn’t necessarily be a shock that nutrition experts don’t always follow their own advice for healthy eating. After all, we’re only human. We lead busy lives, don’t always have time to cook and we give into temptation, even when it comes to food. Despite that, we ultimately follow two important guidelines: everything in moderation and get back on track ASAP.
Here are some of our bad habits and how we deal with them.
SLIP: Eating in front of our screens.
FIX: Eat at the dinner table.
We always hear dietitians tell us to not eat when we are distracted by turning off screens and using a chair, plate, fork method when eating. “But I’m the worst when it comes to eating lunch in front of my computer or leaning over the counter eating dinner before I have to run out to pick up a child,” says Lauren Harris-Pincus, MS, RDN, author of “The Protein-Packed Breakfast Club.”
Harris-Pincus combats this bad habit by eating outside whenever the weather allows to keep her out of the office and enjoying the sounds of nature while she eats: “I am definitely more satisfied with my meal when I pay attention to it.”
SLIP: Eating dessert every day.
FIX: Enjoy dessert in moderation.
“I have my dark chocolate stash in my pantry and take a piece from it several days in a row. I have a sweet tooth and by having a small piece of dark chocolate, I can satisfy it. Knowing it’s there helps me resist the urge to binge. Then I sometimes go a week or more without touching it. Following intuitive eating really helps with my sweet tooth,” claims Brittany Poulson, RDN, from Your Choice Nutrition.
SLIP: Not hydrating properly.
FIX: Hydrate regularly with water or other sources.
Water may be the best way to hydrate throughout the day, but Jessie Asher, RD, isn’t a huge fan of the taste. “I personally hate the boring taste of it. I’ll down one huge bottle a day after a workout, but I usually get my fluids from other types of drinks. I don’t feel badly about it because I know if I stay hydrated through other sources and make sure I’m drinking water after an exercise, I’m good,” she says.
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SLIP: Getting overwhelmed by meal prep.
FIX: Focus on a well-stocked pantry and kitchen.
Though meal prep is a proven strategy for healthy eating and weight loss, it takes planning. “It seems daunting to sit down and figure out everything I’m going to eat for the week. Instead, I make sure to buy a variety of healthy choices within each food category when I’m at the grocery store, like lean meat and poultry, and a mixture of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and dairy, and then, when I’m cooking, I just make sure to include each food group,” says Jessica Levings, MS, RD, and owner of Balanced Pantry.
SLIP: Not exercising regularly.
FIX: Aim for at least 30 minutes of activity everyday.
With her busy schedule Samantha Scruggs, RD, LDN of Nutrition to Fruition doesn’t always meet her exercise quota. “I rarely have time to do so myself with my three children, hour-long commute and working more than full time. Instead, I try to find other ways to stay active like taking a walk during my lunch break, taking the kids to the pool and swimming a couple laps while watching them play, or doing gardening and yard work or housework to get my heart rate up,” she says.
SLIP: Forgetting to read food labels.
FIX: Always look at the label before buying — and eating — food.
Food labels keep us informed and help us make smart purchasing decisions, but only if you read them. “Recently I came back home with peanut butter with added sugar in it and ice cream that had partially hydrogenated oil in it because I was in a hurry at the grocery store so I didn’t read the label,” says Nicole Eichinger RD, LD, of Nutrition’s My Life. Do you think she ate both products? “Absolutely,” she says, adding that “it’s not worth stressing about or returning the items. Just know the next time to read the labels at the grocery store and take a bit more time versus rushing through, even with kids in tow!”
SLIP: Not always stopping when we’re full (because that brownie tastes so good).
FIX: Stop eating when, or preferably before, you’re full.
Dietitians, especially those focused on intuitive eating, say to stop eating when you’re satisfied. But we all know how hard that is, especially when we’re at our favorite restaurant. “I don’t reach for a brownie because I’m hungry but because I’m satisfying my craving. And if something tastes really good, I might eat a little beyond the first feeling of fullness,” says intuitive eating counselor Kara Lydon, RD, LDN. She says it’s all OK, adding that “the goal is to eat according to hunger and fullness most of the time and to not get caught in the vicious shame and guilt cycle if you eat outside of these cues.”