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8 “Healthy” Diet Mistakes To Avoid

Many are making the effort to eat healthier these days especially in an effort to lose weight however, there are many common mistakes people make when it comes to choosing healthy foods. A healthy diet relies on a lifelong commitment to eating the right foods the right way combined with exercise. There is no way around it.

Even if you already knew that, you may still go astray when you try to eat healthier. Here are a few of the most glaring diet mistakes people make, and how to fix them before they derail your healthy eating plan:

1. One-Food Wonders

One diet promises that you can lose 10 pounds in a week by eating as much as you want — as long as what you’re eating is cabbage soup. Or grapefruit. Or cookies. This is a bad idea.

If you go on an extreme, short-term diet, you’re setting yourself up to be very hungry that could lead to binging. By cutting out entire food groups, it makes you more prone to nutritional deficiencies and boredom. Eventually, you will crave the foods you’re missing.

These one-food diets do not teach you how to maintain your weight loss in the long run. Plus they can have unpleasant side effects. Eating nothing but grapefruit can lead to dehydration. It can also make you gassy and can interact with some medications, such as those that treat high blood pressure or abnormal heart rhythms.

TIP:  Stay clear of any diet plan that employs one food only or unhealthy results too fast. Weight loss is a gradual process and a healthy amount is one pound per week.

2. Misguided Vegetarianism

More than 7 million people in the U.S follow a vegetarian diet and many do it with the best of intentions. Either they love animals too much to eat them, or they’re opting for what they see as a healthier lifestyle. A healthy vegetarian diet has been linked to lower rates of obesity, heart disease and diabetes.

What many people don’t realize is that vegetarian doesn’t necessarily mean low-fat or low-calorie. If you are eating too many foods rich in starch or carbohydrates, you might be eating incomplete meals.

In other words, if cheese, pasta, and smoothies are the foundations of your vegetarian diet, you can still gain weight and be unhealthy. It can lead to heart disease, diabetes and inflammation throughout the body.

TIP:  Make vegetables the centerpiece of each meal. Add whole grains, fruit, and other healthy non-meat foods. Make sure you get enough PROTEIN from vegetable sources like beans, nuts, and tofu and essential amino acids from foods like brown rice.

3. Too Much of a Good Thing

A steady stream of research touts the benefits of one food or another. Chocolate, red wine, olive oil, avocados, and nuts have all had their day in the dietary sun. Yes – these foods have health benefits but that doesn’t mean more is better.

For instance, chocolate, olive oil, avocados, and nuts are all high in calories. So it is important to practice portion control when it comes to these foods, otherwise you could be consuming 500-600 extra calories per day.

One tablespoon of olive oil has 120 calories. Red wine is alcohol, which in large quantities can raise your risk for cancer and heart problems. Many times, the sulfites found in red wine can cause skin irritations and redness.

TIP: Moderation is key! It’s OK to add an unhealthy ingredient into your diet. But do it as part of an overall healthy eating plan. That means a little olive oil, not a couple of glugs. Or a handful of nuts, not the whole bag. You get the idea.

4. You Still Need Some Carbohydrates For Energy

Many people are still following the no-carb diet eating mostly protein and vegetables however, if you purge your diet of them, you could pay a price, nutritionally.

Carbohydrates are a prime example. You do want to cut down on white bread and white rice, because these and other refined grains are low in nutrients. The U.S. government’s guidelines recommend that at least half of your grains are whole grains.

TIP: Don’t cut carbohydrates entirely from your diet. Carbohydrates are the primary foods for energy. You need carbohydrates for your brain to function properly. Whole-grain bread, oatmeal, and brown rice are high in fiber and rich in B vitamins like folic acid that are essential for good nutrition.

5. Fat-Free Fallacy

There was a time when “low-fat” and “fat-free” were dieters’ mantras. Food manufacturers catered to this trend by introducing trimmed-down versions of their products, such as fat-free cookies and low-fat salad dressings — and many people promptly went overboard.

But fat is no longer the dietary bad guy. Fat is good for us. In fact, we need them because fat is a component of every cell in our body. In order to be as effective as possible metabolically for our cells to do their jobs, we need to have fat in our diet.

Fat is especially important at every meal when you’re trying to lose weight because fat helps you stay full. It satiates you. If you cut all of the fat out of your diet or have very little fat, your blood sugar doesn’t stay stable for as long a period of time and you notice that you’re hungry sooner.

TIP: Choose healthier fats — unsaturated fats from plant sources — and not too much.

Nuts, seeds, and vegetable oils like canola or olive oil are the healthiest kinds. Fatty fish are a great source of OMEGA 3 fatty acids that are good for the heart and brain. The FDA and EPA recommend that women of childbearing age not eat shark, swordfish, king mackerel, or tilefish because those fish contain high levels of mercury; to eat up to 12 ounces per week (about two average servings) of a variety of lower-mercury fish and shellfish, and to limit albacore (“white”) tuna to 6 ounces per week.

6. Diet Martyrdom

How many of us have punished ourselves for putting on a few pounds by going into a state of denial? We deny ourselves sweets, fats, and just about every food that makes us happy.

Cutting out your favorite foods only sets you up for failure. When you feel hungry all the time, you’re more likely to binge. Avoiding your favorite foods is unrealistic for most people to eat that way in the long run

TIP: Don’t give up your favorite foods. Just eat them in moderation or enjoy little splurges without going overboard. For example, combine dark chocolate with fresh strawberries or add a few chocolate chips to your granola for an extra treat.

7. Be Careful When It Comes To Grazing

Another recent dieting trend is substituting six small snacks for the old three meals a day. Grazing does have advantages because it keeps your blood sugar level stable throughout the day, so you don’t get as hungry.

The trouble with grazing is that you’re eating throughout the day, which can spell calorie trouble for some people. If you are someone who is used to eating fuller meals and then you start grazing, it can be very easy to graze on larger quantities than what you should be eating.

TIP: Pace yourself. Eat mini-meals about every two to three hours, limiting each meal to 200-300 calories.

8. Can’t Stay On The Diet

When it comes to losing weight, it is important to do it in a way that’s going to last, otherwise the pounds are going to come back. Find a way of eating that suits your lifestyle and ask yourself ‘Can I eat this way for the rest of my life?’ If the answer is ‘no,’ it’s probably not the diet for you.

THE BEST TIP: Forget the radical diets and make tiny changes in your life by adding more fresh fruits and vegetables to your meals.

Eat a healthy breakfast that includes protein every morning — a habit that many studies shows can help control your weight.

Aim for at least 30-60 minutes of exercise into every day. It really is the tiny little changes that will yield the biggest results in the long term.


Sherry L. Granader, ACE, AFAA, NETA, ACSM, ASFA, BBU


Sherry is a Nutritionist, Writer, National Speaker, Ghostwriter of books for Natural Medicine Doctors and Clinical Nutritionists and an Author of 2 healthy cookbooks. She is a Nationally Certified Fitness Instructor and Personal Trainer in Pilates, Yoga, Body Pump, STEP and Aerobics with over 20 years experience. She served as the On-Air Nutritionist for QVC television in the United States and the UK and hosted her own weekly “Healthy Living” segments for PBS.

For more information on Sherry, visit