We all have them — habits we think are healthy because we heard them somewhere on the news or from a health-conscious friend. And no matter how much we hate them, we just keep doing them because we think they’re good for us.
For example, take using BMI to tell whether you’re a healthy weight. Is it really the best measure of fitness? What about only eating fruits and veggies to lose weight? Is that really the best way to drop pounds? Or taking a daily multivitamin. Healthy habit or a little bit of nonsense?
The answers to these questions might surprise you! Here are 10 “healthy” habits you should give up this year.
1. Assuming “health” foods are the best way to lose weight.
When we think about losing weight and what defines a “healthy” diet, we often think of the common recommendations we are bombarded with daily, such as avoiding carbs and stocking up on veggies and fruit.
The list of these diet “rules” can go one and one. And while nutritionists likely have your best interest in mind, the unfortunate reality is that many of these recommendations are misguided and outdated, which leads to poor food choices that contribute to adding unwanted fat instead of reducing it. In fact, many so-called “diet” and “health” foods may actually be causing you to gain weight and adversely impacting your health.
With that in mind, here’s a FREE downloadable report the quickly lists 8 absolute worst “healthy” foods that could be negatively affecting your waistline and piling on the belly fat. And yes, these surprisingly include several fruits and vegetables!
2. Eating egg whites instead of whole eggs.
Lots of people began avoiding egg yolks when nutrition experts came out with a recommendation that eating cholesterol was bad for you because it raised your cholesterol.
But there’s good news: A growing body of research shows that for the vast majority of people, dietary cholesterol (from foods you eat) doesn’t really have much of an effect on your blood cholesterol. So unless you have high cholesterol, ditch those nasty egg-white-only alternatives. Good morning, eggs Benedict!
3. Taking tons of vitamin C to ward off a cold.
While a little extra vitamin C can boost an underperforming immune system, taking too much will make you sick.
The upper limit for an adult is 2,000 milligrams a day. Any more than that will most likely cause diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, heartburn, headaches, and other side effects.
4. Taking multivitamins.
Close to half of American adults take vitamins every day. Yet decades’ worth of research hasn’t found any justification for our pill-popping habit.
That isn’t to say we don’t need small amounts of vitamins to survive — without vitamins like A, C, and E, for example, we have a hard time turning food into energy and can develop conditions like rickets or scurvy. Here’s the thing: Research shows we get more than enough of these substances from what we eat, so no need for a pill!
5. Eating only low-fat foods.
According to recommendations from the USDA in the 1990s, millions of Americans seeking to lose weight opted for a low-fat, high-starch diet. They chose margarine over butter and “fat-free” instead of “regular,” and they curbed their indulgence on rich, creamy foods. But it didn’t work.
An eight-year trial involving almost 50,000 women, roughly half of whom went on a low-fat diet, found that those on the low-fat plan didn’t lower their risk of breast cancer, colorectal cancer, or heart disease. Plus, they didn’t lose much weight, if any. New recommendations show that healthy fats, like those from nuts, fish, and avocados, are actually good for you in moderation! So add them back into your diet if you haven’t already.
6. Using BMI to tell whether you’re a healthy weight.
Sometime during your most recent doctor’s visit, your physician probably had you hop on a scale to determine whether you were a healthy weight. After weighing and measuring you, he or she might have shown you a colorful body-mass-index chart.
In reality, the BMI, which was invented in the 1830s, is not a great measure of fitness when used on its own. Obesity experts say the BMI has several major problems, including the fact that it ignores two important factors: 1) how much body fat you’re carrying around, and 2) your waist circumference, which can be a good measure of your risk for certain diseases, including heart disease and Type 2 diabetes.
7. Avoiding gluten.
Unless you’re among the 1% of Americans who suffer from celiac disease, gluten probably won’t have a negative effect on you. In fact, studies show that most people suffer from slight bloating and gas when they eat, whether they consume wheat or not. So go ahead and eat that bagel.
8. Swapping dairy for almond milk.
Alternatives to dairy milk have been surging in popularity in the past few years, chief among them almond milk. Yet almond milk is practically devoid of nutrients.
By themselves, almonds are protein powerhouses. But a typical glass of almond milk, by volume, is just about 2% almonds and contains almost no protein. And all the vitamins inside are added. So if you’re looking for a truly healthy alternative, opt for soy, skim, or low-fat milk.
9. Slathering on hand sanitizer.
If you wash your hands regularly throughout the day, hand sanitizer is almost entirely unnecessary. Plus, it can’t kill all the germs that plain old soap and water can.
Norovirus and C. difficile, for example, are immune to sanitizing gels.
10. Using toilet-seat liners.
Viruses like HIV and herpes are fragile, meaning they don’t survive very well outside a nice, warm human body. By the time you sit down on a public toilet seat — even one that was recently used by someone else — most harmful pathogens probably won’t be able to infect you.
Plus, your skin is an effective block against any microbes. (Unless, of course, you have a cut or open wound there, which could allow the bacteria to get in.