The 7 Wellness Mistakes You Didn’t Realize You’re Making — And What To Do Instead |

The 7 Wellness Mistakes You Didn’t Realize You’re Making — And What To Do Instead

We’re constantly surrounded by messages about healthy habits we “should” be adopting. Every time we glance at social media or email, listen to a podcast, or watch TV, it seems, someone is touting another must-do practice, “essential” supplement, or list of best and worst foods. However, when done in excess or without proper understanding, some of these habits may actually lead to unexpected health issues. Here are a few that might actually be holding you back from feeling your best, plus tips for taking a more balanced approach to wellness.

Too Much Lemon Water

Lemon water has been touted for a wide range of benefits by some health experts, influencers, and celebrities. It’s commonly recommended as a morning beverage to start your day with and is celebrated for its powers to promote optimal hydration, digestion, detoxification, and weight loss. Yes, it offers vitamin C, and some of the digestion-stimulating benefits may come from the combination of fluid and citrus (a natural diuretic). But when consumed in excess, lemon water may contribute to issues such as gastrointestinal discomfort, heartburn, and nausea.

Erosion of tooth enamel is another potential risk, as lemon is very acidic, and very frequent exposure could have a detrimental effect, according to the American Dental Association. Keep in mind that these effects are likely related to consuming very high amounts of lemon water throughout the day and not sticking to only a small serving in the morning.

If you enjoy a cup of lemon water to start your day off, you likely don’t need to worry (as long as you’re not prone to heartburn). But to protect your teeth, rinse well with plain water after you drink it and wait a bit before brushing your teeth.

Undiluted Apple Cider Vinegar Shots

Made from the addition of bacterial cultures and yeast to apple juice, apple cider vinegar (aka ACV) gets a lot of play on social media for purported benefits like reversing or preventing diabetes, restoring gut health, and supporting weight loss. You’ve likely seen influencers taking a shot.

One topic that has gotten a lot of airtime is the finding that taking ACV before a meal was linked to improved blood sugar control after a meal. While several small studies have shown an association between ACV consumption and improved glycemic control in individuals with Type 2 Diabetes, dietitians are alarmed to see influencers telling people to do shots of apple cider vinegar without diluting it in water. Because of its acidic nature, this can damage the esophagus and tooth enamel.

Jaclyn London, MS, RD cautions against taking shots of ACV out of concern for gastrointestinal (GI) discomfort. “Drinking it on an empty stomach can be tough on your GI tract long-term and can induce heartburn in those who are prone to it in the short-term,” she explains. “Those feelings of satiety after your AM dose are likely a result of the fact that your entire esophagus is now on fire. And one tablespoon, shot glass, or bucket of vinegar in the morning will not help you lose weight! Neither will any single food in isolation of everything else you’re eating!” Instead, she recommends “filling up on fiber and protein at meals and snacks” to help you feel full for longer. As for the gut health claims, London tells clients that the probiotic benefits are minimal at best and encourages turning to other fermented foods like yogurt, kefir, and sauerkraut.

All of that said, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with enjoying ACV as a condiment or as an ingredient in a beverage. At the very least, dilute that spoonful in a glass of water. A few of London’s favorite ways to include ACV in everyday foods are “homemade salad dressings, as a part of a marinade for seafood, and as a flavor booster for rice.”

While ACV gummy supplements have become popular, many of them contain added sugar and have not been shown to be effective. London recommends sticking with the liquid form if you want to incorporate ACV into your routine.

Overdoing It On the Veggies

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Yes, eating plenty of vegetables is one of the best things you can do to support your health. But if you notice you’ve been more bloated or gassy since you started increasing your intake or find that you’re experiencing digestive discomfort, constipation, or diarrhea, it’s possible you’re overdoing the veggies.

Vegetables are packed with fiber, which is important for promoting satiety, stable blood sugar, and regular digestion. It’s recommended that healthy adults aim for 19-38 grams of fiber per day. However, if you suddenly bump up from a low-fiber diet to a high-fiber diet, especially if you don’t simultaneously increase water intake, you may experience gas, bloating, and cramping. This can also occur if you’re consuming upwards of 50 grams of fiber per day.

Compounds in cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, cabbage, and kale have also been associated with gas and bloating. This is because they can be difficult to digest, which leads to gas. Cruciferous vegetables also contain sulfur-containing compounds called glucosinolates. As glucosinolates break down in the intestines, other compounds like hydrogen sulfide are formed, which is why you may notice a sulfurous smell if you pass gas after eating these foods.

Another reason cruciferous veggies may be hard on digestion: They contain raffinose, an oligosaccharide that we, as humans, don’t have the enzyme to digest. By the time the undigested raffinose-containing food enters the large intestine, bacteria in the large intestine begin to get to work breaking it down (AKA fermenting it), which results in gas and bloating.

To promote more harmonious digestion, especially if you’re working on increasing your vegetable intake, do so gradually. Also, know that you don’t need to be eating a giant salad at all meals and also snacking on vegetables.

There are some other potential reasons a high intake of vegetables could cause discomfort, such as an underlying intolerance to specific carbohydrates found in certain vegetables — which you may have heard called FODMAPS. If you’ve noticed you frequently have digestive issues, consult with a doctor or dietitian who can provide guidance on identifying and addressing any potential sensitivities.

Drinking Too Much Water

Consuming enough water is key for optimal body functioning, but too much of a good thing is possible. London says she has been noticing this overhydration trend more recently thanks to one-size-fits-all “social media challenges and extreme dieting practices that extoll the (scientifically unsubstantiated) ‘benefits’ of drinking one gallon of water per day” (which is about 16 cups, FYI). While that amount may be appropriate for some, she points out, “This is way too much for others.”

“Over-hydrating can lead to a dangerous medical condition known as hyponatremia,” she adds, during which your blood becomes so diluted that your serum sodium levels decrease. “This is dangerous for a multitude of reasons, but hyponatremia can cause severe side effects, including seizures, coma, and even death.”

Not sure if you’re hydrating properly? London recommends checking your urine. It should be a light straw color. If it’s a dark yellow color, that may be a sign you need to drink more, and if it’s very light to the point of being almost clear, that may be a sign you’re overdoing it. Just keep in mind that certain medications and supplements can change the color of your urine.

Use this simple, calculation-free method to gauge where you are hydration-wise on an everyday basis, and you’re automatically on track to making more informed choices.

Avoiding Egg Yolks (Choosing Only Egg Whites)

If you’ve been skipping egg yolks, you might want to put them back on the menu.

Because they offer protein but are low in calories, egg whites have long been a popular go-to for health-conscious folks. But, the yolks are where you’ll find really important nutrients like vitamin A, vitamin B-12, vitamin D, and choline, an essential nutrient for brain function. In addition, the yolk also contains carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin, both of which are important for eye health and need the fat found in the yolk for optimal absorption.

Dr. Melina Jampolis, MD, a board-certified Physician Nutrition Specialist who consults with the American Egg Board states “Eggs are a high-quality protein. Almost half of the protein in the egg is in the yolk.” Eggs also offer instant portion control, with around 70 calories, 5 grams of fat, and 6 grams of protein in one large egg.

If you’ve been worried about the cholesterol in eggs, Dr. Jampolis says you’ll likely be relieved to hear that, since 2015, cholesterol has not been regarded as a nutrient of concern in the USDA Dietary Guidelines. While it’s still recommended that people at increased risk of heart disease or those who have type 2 diabetes or have had a heart attack should not consume excessive amounts of cholesterol, numerous studies have shown that regular consumption of eggs was not associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease.

So how many eggs are safe to eat? An egg per day is considered appropriate, according to the American Heart Association. “For vegetarians who eat eggs, they can have higher amounts because their dietary pattern is lower in dietary sources of cholesterol,” says Dr. Jampolis.

It also matters what you serve with those eggs. Experts recommend choosing a healthy cooking oil like olive oil or avocado oil and limiting processed meats like bacon, sausage, and ham. Eggs also happen to pair beautifully with health-promoting foods like avocado, leafy greens, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, and whole grains—just sayin’.

Skipping Meals For Weight Loss

Skipping meals to cut calories? So, uh, how’s that going? There are a number of reasons this can backfire. One that many people experience is that they end up overeating at subsequent meals or struggle with compulsive snacking. They may also have a hard time making mindful choices when they get overly hungry. Long-term, meal-skipping can even disrupt metabolism.

Tina Haupert, FDN-P, RCPC, the owner of Carrots ‘N’ Cake, tells her clients that meal skipping actually isn’t that effective — and in fact, it may be actively harmful. “The biggest [reasons] are slowing down your metabolism, loss of important nutrients, increased hunger and potential binge eating, muscle loss, and fluctuating blood sugar levels,” she explains. “All of these factors can lead to weight loss plateaus or even weight gain when you resume normal eating habits.”

Instead, Haupert tells her clients to focus on portion control and eating regular, balanced meals throughout the day. Having a balance of protein, fat, and complex carbs at meals and snacks and drinking enough water helps you stay satisfied and energized through the days so you can make mindful food choices.

If you find it hard to give up meal-skipping, are scared to eat more, or notice you have an unhealthy relationship with food or your body, working with a registered dietitian and/or a therapist with expertise in disordered eating can be an invaluable resource to help you foster a healthier, calmer mindset.


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Staying active is a vital part of supporting overall well-being, but it’s important to give your body time to rest and recover.

Haupert has shared publicly how her own experience with overtraining opened her eyes to the importance of rest days. “Overtraining is so common among women, and many of us ignore the signs for many years, even decades, until the symptoms just get too hard to ignore and cause lasting damage to our health.”

There are numerous ways overdoing exercise can work against you and actually take you farther away from your health and fitness goals. Haupert explains, “Overtraining can lead to an increased risk of injury, fatigue (physically, mentally, and emotionally), disrupted sleep, loss of muscle mass, hormonal imbalance, difficulty recovering from workouts, poor athletic performance, suppressed immune function, downregulated thyroid, and more.”

She recommends scheduling regular rest days (or even entire rest weeks if needed) to allow the body to fully recover. “Sleep is also magical when it comes to recovery, so I aim for 8 to 9 hours per night,” she adds. “At the end of the day, it’s important to listen to your body and pay attention to how you feel after your workouts.” Try tuning into your body and noticing whether you’re feeling tired or energized, or whether you’re having to work harder than normal to hit your usual performance standards (like a certain number of reps or per-mile pace). If your performance is down, it’s probably time to take a rest day. In the long run, you’ll perform better and have a more sustainable relationship with exercise.

Want specifics? When planning out your exercise, develop a well-rounded workout routine that promotes strength, flexibility, and cardiovascular health while preventing overuse injuries. Alternate which muscle groups you work to avoid overtaxing one group, and incorporate cross-training and restorative activities. For example, if you love running, balance out your runs with some strength training, pilates, and stretching.

Taking a rest day doesn’t have to mean sitting in front of the TV all day, though (unless of course, that’s truly what you need that day!). A few of Haupert’s favorite activities for an “active rest day” include “walking, gentle yoga, light hiking, swimming, dancing, stretching, and foam rolling.”

Too much of a good thing is definitely possible when it comes to certain “wellness” practices. Pay attention to what feels good to your body and if you’re struggling with finding balance, seek help from a credentialed professional.

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