Some "healthy" choices are anything but.
Let’s face it, people love to throw around the word “healthy” as much as they love to sit on the couch in workout clothes. The word just feels good to say, like simply saying it will magically transform us into a purer, cleaner forms of ourselves. But it’s become a bit tired, a bit overused, and a bit (more like completely) meaningless at this point.
So here are some health myths to avoid like the plague, unless you’d like to start a plague. Okay, "plague" is extreme — say, something potentially sickness-inducing, and we'll leave it at that.
1. Devouring protein bars and granola bars.
Depending on the nutrition facts, these snacks are basically worse-tasting candy bars. With paragraphs of artificial ingredients and loads of sugar, just make sure you read the label first. There are some good ones out there, but like men, they’re hard to find.
2. Indiscriminate vitamin and supplement use.
Not all vitamins and supplements are inherently great for everyone. If taken too often, you can actually OD on vitamins. And popping some of these pills, like iron, without consulting a medical professional can be bad news. These natural remedies are incredibly beneficial in the right context. It’s just that too much of a good thing can cause gastrointestinal problems and other inconvenient side effects, so go easy on the dosage and you’ll be fine.
3. Automatically ordering a salad.
Of course this depends on the restaurant, but if you’re sitting in a standard chain, the salad selections can be more atrocious than anything else on the menu. Besides their giant portions, some are packed with cheese, bacon, eggs — basically a full breakfast — that just happens to lay upon a bed of about two leaves of iceberg lettuce (which is the nutritional equivalent of taking a sip of water). Salads can be fantastic, but just check the contents to make sure they’re not as weak as your game on a first date. You’re probably better off picking the steak dinner with broccoli side.
4. Solely using antibacterial soap.
If you want to kill everything, even the good bacteria in your body, and dry out your skin completely, then you can ignore this one. But on top of all that, a lot of these antibacterial soaps contain chemicals that aren’t doing you any favors, either. When it comes to thoroughly washing your hands, it’s more about developing a lather.
5. Choosing something because it’s fat free.
I could go on at length with this one, but here's the brief version — to compensate for the lack of fat, these products are typically stuffed to the gills with preservatives, sugars, artificial ingredients, thickeners and more. Fat is not the enemy in the first place, but that is a whole other topic. Those alternative ingredients are much more harmful.
6. Trying to catch up on sleep.
Yes, sleeping is extraordinarily good for you. Your body repairs itself in your sleep. You can conquer just about anything with a full night’s rest. But when you can't clock anything close to eight hours, making up for it the next night won’t actually work. Sleeping in can make you even more tired. A consistent, set number of hours each night is what really matters. Not everyone can get that all the time, and that’s where 20 minute cat naps come in.
7. Pounding diet drinks day and night.
Just like the fat-free foods, these bevvies are incredibly misleading. You're better off drinking regular, though pop or soda or whatever you call it isn’t great across the board. Zero calories isn’t helpful when your body doesn’t know what to do with all that fakeness. You can actually increase fat stores while getting the same teeth erosion and intestinal damage you can expect from the standard calorie-laden drink. If you can’t live without the bubbly, La Croix can do wonders.
Critical thinking is more than just the title of those little boxes in the corners of your old textbooks. It can help you sort through what is actually healthy from what is just a marketing scheme. A lot of what we hear about and see on packaging labels can’t be automatically absorbed as truth, especially when most of it is contradictory anyway.
Cheers to figuring this out together. Let’s toast with a peach-pear sparkling water.