From watching what you consume on social media, to the “good” and “bad” labels you place on eating, there are a few habits nutritionists wish you would break ASAP.
Check out these surprising tips that have been on your nutritionist’s mind.
Stop listening to external signals.1 of 8
"I wish that people would start realizing that nobody knows their body's signals like they do," says Kathryn Fink, a Certified Eating Disorder Registered Dietician in the Dallas, Texas area. "Even a dietician won't know their needs like they do."
Sticking to a set of strict rules or a trendy fad diet can drown out your inner voice and the physical feelings in your body. For example, if you're feeling too full, but haven't hit your macronutrient goals for protein, you shouldn't consume more food just to stick to the rule. Fink's solution is to get in tune with your own body's signals, instead of relying on external advice that doesn't take into account your individual needs.
Stop the labels.2 of 8
Another bad habit nutritionists wish you would stop? Labeling foods as good or bad. Though some food is of course better for us than others, attaching morality to food often leads to shame and creates stigma around your eating habits—hardly the recipe for a healthy relationship with food.
This thinking also tends to imply that you are bad simply for eating a "bad" food. That's not good on the mental health front and may actually cause you to make worse decisions for yourself since you feel so lousy.
Stop taking the click bait.3 of 8
Rebecca Scritchfield, a DC-based registered dietician nutritionist and author of the book Body Kindness: Transform Your Health from the Inside Out and Never Say Diet Again, says that much like scouring the internet for general medical advice instead of visiting your primary care physician, the online clickbait around dieting can be just as harmful and oversimplified.
"If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is," Scritchfield says. "You get to control what you consume, so maybe give yourself a limit to how much exposure you'll allow."
Scritchfield also recommends looking for peer-reviewed articles and studies to back up any questionable nutrition advice you read.
Stop expecting to "eat healthy" all the time.4 of 8
Fink actually recommends not constantly obsessing over "healthy" meals and giving it a go at truly enjoying a meal that doesn't scream nutrition.
"It's not that I don't agree that veggies and fruits are good, but not every meal has to be A+ nutrition," Fink says. "Instead of thinking of the meal as 'I'm being bad' or this is 'my cheat meal,' think of it as less negative pressure to eat the good stuff in the future and know that it's ok to be flexible."
Stop using fitness and calorie trackers.5 of 8
If a tracker is just one of the helpful tools in your arsenal, then keep it! However, for some, it can become a source of unhealthy behavior.
"I tell my clients to try the fitness trackers as an experiment," Fink says. "The key thing I tell them to look for is, 'Does this open up my mental energy? Does it promote the intuitive signal within me?' Often, the external counting can show how 'good' you're supposed to be, but can eradicate those perceptive cues."
Stop glorifying "fitspo."6 of 8
Whether you're the one actually posting before-and-after shots or simply following and using these social media accounts as inspiration, they tend to be unhelpful.
"The mentality there is usually, 'I suck, I have to work harder and do better,'" Scritchfield says. "We need to stop comparing bodies, as they're just so naturally diverse."
In place of those fitspo images, try inspirational quotes or uplifting stories that celebrate all body types. Of course, each person has their own response, so decide what social media works best for you.
Stop viewing exercise as punishment.7 of 8
Both Fink and Scritchfield agree that the minute any client starts seeing recommended activity as punishment, they're far less likely to stick with those habits in the long run.
When exercise is thought of as joyful movement, clients are more likely to diversify their movement (which is great for your body!) and pick types of movement they actually enjoy. With this mentality, exercise can easily become an integrated part of a nutrition plan.