Ten nutrition mistakes even really healthy people make


Even when you try your best to eat well, it's difficult to know everything about nutrition. I often talk with clients who believe they are making good choices and don't realize that little oversights stand in their way of optimal health. Here's a top 10 list of common but easy-to-repair nutrition mistakes.

- You add whole flaxseeds to your breakfast

Flaxseeds are filled with omega-3 fats, fiber and lignans (antioxidants), which all benefit heart health. But whole flaxseeds may pass through the intestines undigested, which means you'll miss out on the health benefits inside the seed. Buy ground flax seeds instead, or put them in a coffee or spice grinder. 

- You blend a nutritious smoothie, but it's a calorie bomb 

It's easy to toss a combination of superfoods into a blender. Blueberries, cashew butter, chia, kale, bananas and coconut milk sound like a dreamy breakfast elixir, but these concoctions can quickly become calorie bombs. Keep smoothies in the 300-calorie range by serving smaller portions (about 8-12 ounces), using more vegetables than fruit, and by going easy on the high-calorie nuts and seeds. 

- You take your supplements with coffee

Caffeine from coffee can hinder your body's ability to absorb some of the vitamins and minerals in your supplements, including calcium, iron, B-vitamins and vitamin D. And it's not just coffee - beverages such as tea and cola contain caffeine, too. Enjoy your coffee about an hour before taking your supplements, and swallow pills with water instead.

- You use regular canned beans for your meatless meals

Beans are an amazing source of fiber and protein, but canned varieties may have close to 1,000 mg of sodium per cup - that's two-thirds of what you need in an entire day! Look for cans that say "no-salt-added" or "low-sodium." If you can't find them, drain and rinse your canned beans, which will eliminate about 40 percent of the sodium. 

- To cut back on sugar, you cut out fruit

The top source of sugar in the American diet is sweetened beverages, not fruit. Sugary soft drinks have no beneficial nutrients, while fruit has fiber, vitamins and protective antioxidants. Plus, we don't tend to overeat fruit, but do tend to drink too much soda. Consider how much easier it is to down a 20-ounce soda, as opposed to eating six bananas at one time. Both pack 16 teaspoons of sugar. Choose fruit and skip the soda.

- You trust claims like 'low-fat' and 'sugar-free' 

For many years, we've relied on label claims that tell us what our food doesn't contain - fat, sugar, gluten.It's more important to look at what the food does contain. Ultra-processed foods may be fat-free or sugar-free, but also loaded with preservatives or refined ingredients. Read ingredient lists and choose foods that are as close to nature as possible.

- You drink almond milk for calcium but don't shake the carton first

Milk alternatives made from soy, almonds, cashews, rice, etc. are often fortified with calcium and vitamin D. But the added nutrients don't stay in the liquid very well, and tend to sink to the bottom of the container. If you drink without shaking first, you can't reap the benefits of the added vitamins and minerals. Shake well before serving. 

- You skip the dressing on salad

Vegetables contain fat-soluble vitamins A, E and K, and a host of antioxidants that require fat to be absorbed. If you skip the oil and vinegar, you miss out on key nutrients from the salad. Serve your greens with oil-based dressing, nuts, seeds or avocado to dramatically boost your body's ability to soak up the veggies' beneficial nutrients. 

- You miss out on probiotics by buying the wrong type of yogurt

Yogurt is fermented milk, and fermented foods contain probiotics. So, logic would dictate that all yogurts are probiotic-rich, but unfortunately that's not the case. If yogurt has been heated or pasteurized, probiotics are destroyed and may not be added back in. Look for the words "live active cultures," or check ingredient lists for names of specific probiotics (lactobacillus acidophilus, L bulgaricus, etc.) to ensure you're getting these beneficial bacteria, which aid digestion and support the immune system. 

- You refuel with sports drinks

Sports drinks are meant to replace fluid and electrolytes that are lost when you sweat excessively, and are suitable after endurance sports like a soccer game or marathon. But the extra sugar and salt in sports drinks are not needed for casual exercise with minimal perspiration. After a stroll, hydrating with water is the best choice.


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Austin360 Eats

The coolest way to serve coffee at dinner's end
The coolest way to serve coffee at dinner's end

I can put together a decent dinner party. But when it comes to the end of the meal, I have never been at ease with making a cuppa for my coffee-drinking guests, because I only do tea.  My new plan is to serve this whiz-bang-simple dessert, which offers all the coffee flavor with precious little bitterness - and a mild buzz of caffeine, if you...
Recipe of the Week: Spice up your ham with pineapple juice, cayenne
Recipe of the Week: Spice up your ham with pineapple juice, cayenne

It’s time to start thinking about that Christmas dinner, and if ham is on the menu, you’ll need to decide how you want to fix it. Almost all the ham sold in the U.S. is already cooked and sometimes smoked. You can get it with or without the bone, sliced or unsliced, but they almost all come with a packet of glaze to add to the ham while...
Billionaire’s son sues ex-fiancée to get $250,000 engagement ring back
Billionaire’s son sues ex-fiancée to get $250,000 engagement ring back

Billionaire Bill Koch’s son Wyatt is no longer engaged, and he wants the quarter-million dollar ring back from his ex-fiancee. >> Read more trending news  Lawyers filed a civil lawsuit on Wyatt Koch’s behalf Tuesday to attempt to force Ivie Gabrielle Slocumb to return the expensive piece of jewelry. “The ring...
Billie Lourd shares photo of mom Carrie Fisher, honoring ‘Star Wars, her last movie
Billie Lourd shares photo of mom Carrie Fisher, honoring ‘Star Wars, her last movie

Billie Lourd is remembering her late mother, Carrie Fisher, in a touching Instagram post. >> Read more trending news  The touching photo Lourd shared Friday shows the pair clinging to each other on the red carpet of a recent movie premiere. The mother and daughter starred in “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” back in 2015, and now...
The most popular books, movies and music at the Austin Public Library in 2017
The most popular books, movies and music at the Austin Public Library in 2017

2017 was a year of change for Austin, as each year always is. But some things never change. The fact that we love bemoaning Austin traffic. The fact that our city is consistently ranked one of the best places to live in the country. The fact that grackles never cease to instill fear and awe in the hearts of Austinites.  There’s also the...
More Stories