Think that chugging down gallons of water or taking long naps are good for you? Think again. We expose the unhealthy secrets of some of your favourite foods and routines. By Helen Wallace
Pre-packaged breakfast cereals make for a quick and easy breakfast, but did you know that these morning meals can contain up to three teaspoons of sugar per serving? While this may wake you up initially, you can also experience a crash later in the day and you will likely not feel full and satisfied.
TRY THIS Eating complex carbs, such as unflavoured oats, gives you sustained energy release, keeping you fuller for longer, and is naturally sugar free. Sweeten it up with some honey instead to start your day off in a healthy and tasty way.
The importance of drinking plenty of water is always emphasised, as it is crucial for proper organ function, but did you know that it is possible to drink too much? The consequences of drinking too much water is that it can place strain on your kidneys and dilute the amount of sodium in your system.
TRY THIS Keep a water bottle on your desk and refill it throughout the day, but listen to your body and gauge your activity levels. The myth that we need eight glasses to be healthy has been debunked and our intake should be based on our activity levels as well as the climate.
Rise and shine
It’s tempting to have a lie-in on the weekends, especially after a long week. But despite what we might actually think, sleep isn’t something that can be caught up and sleeping late can not only disrupt our natural body clocks and cause us to become drowsy, but it may also trigger headaches.
TRY THIS Get up at the same time as you would during the week, but allow some time to ease yourself into the day slowly. This way, you can still relax, but will minimise your chances of developing any of the symptoms associated with oversleeping.
Say ‘no’ to nectar
Juice cleanses may be all the rage, but despite what devotees might think, drinking a lot of fruit juice is not particularly healthy. This is because you’re getting all the sugar and none of the fibre when ingesting fruit in liquid form. This excess sugar
can lead to problems with blood glucose, diabetes and also cause dental issues and weight gain.
TRY THIS Rather than high-fructose drinks, make your water more exciting by infusing it with small pieces of fruit and fresh herbs. This will satisfy your flavour craving without adding to your sugar intake.
Don’t fear the fat
When trying to diet, we often fall into the trap of buying products, especially from the dairy aisle, that are labelled as being low-fat. Unfortunately, when the fat is omitted, other things are added to improve the flavour. So while the fat content may be low, they are often higher in sugars and carbohydrates, which are more likely to increase your waistline.
TRY THIS When stocking up on fresh produce, opt for full-cream versions instead. Not only are they much tastier but they will keep you fuller for longer and contain fewer additives.
Not about the numbers
Being obsessive over how many calories make up each meal you eat and constantly worrying about it is not the best way to guarantee long-term weight-loss. It can also lead to disordered eating, malnourishment and can result in you developing quite
an unhealthy relationship with food. Plus, depriving yourself of things you love could lead to binge eating.
TRY THIS Being fit and healthy is a lifestyle and anything can be enjoyed in moderation. Make sure your diet is full of fruit and veg, complex carbs and protein, and be sure to get enough exercise, so you can enjoy that piece of cake free of guilt.
Don’t be shady
Skin cancer is on the rise, so it is smart to exercise caution when going out into the sun and to apply sunscreen daily. This doesn’t mean, however, that you should spend
all day indoors hiding from the sun under the impression that avoidance will ensure healthy skin. Research has shown that just 10 minutes of rays a day is necessary for the production of vitamin D.
TRY THIS Make sure you get enough vitamin D for healthy bone and muscle development by stepping outside, even just briefly, each day. But make sure you slap on some good sunscreen first.
Switching sugar for artificial sweetener may seem to be a healthier bet as we’re constantly being warned of the dangers of sugar consumption. However, it’s not good to load your body with artificial sweeteners, as some of these could well cause serious long-term implications: weight gain, Type 2 diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular disease, to name a few.
TRY THIS Instead of sweetener sachets and tablets, opt for natural sugar substitutes, such as stevia, xylitol or agave nectar. You will still be able to satisfy that sweet craving without any negative effects.