You avoid fast food and stay mindful of what goes into your mouth, but is your diet as healthy as it could be? Here are 10 hidden signs you’re not eating as healthy as you think.
You’re always starving
Sometimes you are legitimately hungry, but other times, you may feel hunger — even if you’ve eaten recently — because your diet is lacking some other essential component, whether it’s protein, carbohydrates, fat or fibre.
You rarely drink water
Hydration by sports drinks, sodas and teas doesn’t count towards your overall health. Your primary thirst-quencher should be good old-fashioned water, according to Canada’s Food Guide.
You don’t read food labels
Before you assume that marketing claims on a box (like “made with whole grains”) means it’s a healthy choice, read the nutrition label. For example, Canada’s Food Guide recommends that at least half of the grains you consume be whole grains, but they should also be low in fat, sugar and salt.
You visit the grocery store or market on occasion
If you’re not buying food very often, you probably have a lot of processed foods in your diet. According to Canada’s Food Guide, a healthy woman between the ages of 19 and 50 should eat between seven and eight servings of fruits and vegetables each day. Eating produce will require more food shopping — fresh food doesn’t last long!
“Natural is not a synonym for healthy! If you are looking for food that is in its simplest form, look for fruits and vegetables or anything in the produce section. Any food that requires a label probably has some added ingredients.” — Shari Portnoy, MPH, RD
You crave sugar
If you’ve eliminated other common reasons for sugar cravings, like boredom, fatigue and low blood sugar, it may be a sign that you’re not getting enough quality nutrients like protein, healthy fats and fibre in your diet.
You aren’t “regular”
Having fewer than three bowel movements a week likely means that you’re constipated, and a lack of fibre and water in your diet may be to blame. Up your fibre intake by adding foods like apples, raspberries, carrots, broccoli and whole grains.
If you’re on a diet that restricts any essential food type, like carbohydrates, fresh fruits and vegetables, fat or protein, you’re not giving your body what it needs to function properly.
All your greens are consumed in salad
Leafy green vegetables are a great source of fibre, vitamins C, A and K, folate, calcium, magnesium, potassium and beta-carotene, and having them in your diet in any form is a step in the right direction. However, if you only eat them raw, you may not be getting all the benefit you could. Lightly cooking greens like kale, spinach and collard, breaks down their compounds, allowing for easier absorption of all their valuable nutrients by your body, according to Leslie Beck, RD.
You rarely cook
Ordering vegetables at a restaurant is definitely a better choice than fried foods, but many restaurant chefs sautee their vegetables in oils and fats to make them extra tasty. If you’re really committed to eating healthy, cook at home a few nights a week, so you know exactly what’s in the food you eat.