A few weeks ago I was doing some research for an article and came across this piece, “5 Healthy Habits That Will Actually Change Your Life”. Um…click bait, much? But who I am to talk? I was lured right in.
And as often happens with these types of articles, this took me to more and more lists of healthy habits. Healthy habits to lose weight, improve your mood, have glowing skin, I could go on and on.
And while these health goals are very worthy and attainable objectives, the methods suggested in these articles are less so. In fact, they got me so riled up with the sheer ridiculousness of their suggestions, that I just had to set some records straight.
#1 Eat one meal-replacement bar [per day], from Inc.
I get it, everyone is busy, and often a grab-and-go snack can be a real lifesaver. But never should one use a bar as a replacement for a meal. Your meals should be an opportunity to refuel and nourish your body. And while there are several brands of bars out there that don’t contain added sugar, chemicals or other cr*p, these should be used as an occasional afternoon boost, not a daily meal replacement.
The quickest way to get healthy is to know where your food comes from and what’s in it. So rather than reaching for “high protein low calorie” bars, as suggested, always be sure to balance FAT, FIBRE and PROTEIN in each meal or snack. Try something like these Spiced Nuts or C3 Energy Balls, which are full of good fats, fibre and protein. And because you made them yourself, you’ll know exactly what you’re eating!
#2 Wear sunscreen year-round, from Happier
Ok, this one is controversial. And while I understand that skin cancer is a real risk, so is vitamin D deficiency. This is obviously dependant on what part of the world you live in. However, for us here in Canada, vitamin D deficiency is a very serious concern.
Why should you care about vitamin D, you ask? Here’s why. Vitamin D is necessary for our body’s to absorb calcium. Without enough vitamin D, bones can become thin, brittle or misshapen. Vitamin D helps prevent rickets (bowed legs) in children and osteoporosis in adults.
Vitamin D is also important for cell growth and regeneration, neuromuscular and immune function and the reduction of inflammation. Having enough vitamin D is super important for inflammatory conditions like arthritis, acne and even Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) and insulin resistance.
So while wearing sunscreen for extended periods of sun exposure is important, getting a little bit of sun is important too. If you’re not sure how much you need, take a look here.
#3 Get a low-fat jolt, from Shape Magazine
This one comes from Shape Magazine‘s holiday-themed healthy habits list. They recommend “A tall cup of Starbucks’ new Skinny Peppermint Mocha latte [which] packs 11 grams of lean protein and only 110 calories.”
There are so many things wrong with this statement! For starters, the holidays can be a very stressful time for many people. So here’s quick lesson on how our bodies’ handle stress physiologically. Our bodies cope with stress by releasing cortisol, also known as the stress hormone. Cortisol is produced by adrenal glands which are small triangular glands that sit on top of the kidneys, which are in your lower back region.
These glands are particularly sensitive to the damaging effects of caffeine and they also happen to be particularly overworked in many people because of our busy, stressful lives. So the combination of already overexerted adrenals, the added stress of the holidays and a big ol’ dousing of caffeine equals disaster.
Drinking caffeine adds fuel to the fire; meaning you’ll find yourself feeling jittery, unable to fall asleep, poorly handling stress (teary much?), easily irritated, gaining weight and the list goes on.
So skip the skinny low-fat frappe wappa whatever, which is full of sugar (or chemicals that taste sweet), dairy and caffeine, and reach for a herbal tea or green tea matcha latte. Give your body a break and remember to breeeeathe.
#4 Drink water before every meal, from Health Cheat Sheet
This age-old method of ‘dieting’ states that if you guzzle a big glass of water before your meal, you’re likely to consume less food, thereby reducing your overall calorie intake. Now, for those of you that know me, you know that I’m not about counting calories. I’m about whole, real, nourishing food that your body recognizes as nutrition.
However, that’s not why I have a problem with this ‘health’ tip. The reason is that drinking excess liquid dilutes stomach acid. And in a society where many people struggle with acid reflux and regularly take antacids, this is a problem.
Contrary to popular belief, acid reflux or heart burn isn’t the result of too much stomach acid. Quite the opposite, in fact.The reality is that most people do not have enough stomach acid to properly digest their food. What ends up happening is the food sits for too long in the stomach and begins to produce gases. These gases, not only cause bloating and discomfort, but they also cause the food to irritate the esophagus causing acid reflux.
One of the best ways to deal with heart burn is to take HCl (hydrochloric acid, also known as stomach acid) in supplement form. This will help digest your food properly and prevent food from sitting in the stomach for longer than it should.
While staying hydrated is crucial and avoiding sugary pop drinks is a must, in order for proper digestion to occur, save the liquids for 30min before or 90min after your meal.
#5 Drink Milk, from Cosmopolitan Magazine
I’m not going to launch into a long discussion here about why you might want to avoid dairy. (You can have a look at the link instead). But I will mention the reasons why Cosmo Mag includes drinking milk in their “5 Healthy Everyday Habits of Women On the Go”.
You might think it’s because of the calcium content in milk (just Google “why dairy is a bad source of calcium”), however, it’s not for that reason that Cosmo recommends that you get your daily serving of dairy.
Cosmo recommends milk as an evening drink before bed so “you wake up with healthy skin that glows!” This one really got me hot under the collar. Dairy is one of the leading causes of inflammation in the body, and has been directly linked to skin conditions like acne, eczema and other dermatological problems. Recommending milk for glowing skin is like saying eat more McDonald’s if you want to be healthy. It just simply outrageous!
So please, if you want glowing skin, stick to fresh fruits and vegetables from all the colours of the rainbow and stay hydrated.
So there you have it. Five “healthy” habits you should probably stop doing asap and instead, if you are looking for some new healthy habits to start, try my 5 Nutritionist-Approved Habits You Should be Doing Every Day.
There is no doubt of the benefits of healthy habits like staying hydrated, eating whole, real foods and avoiding a sun burn but before blindly following everything you read, consider your long term health goals and be sure to follow an educated, knowledgeable and trusted source that will help you achieve them.