April Fools’ Day is all fun and games when you’re playing tricks on others… but maybe not as much when you’re unknowingly fooling yourself. So, to honor, or rather dishonor, this day, I’ve decided to play the opposite end and divulge a few ways in which you might be fooling yourself while trying to achieve your health and wellness goals:
1. Not reading the labels of ‘health foods’
Ever find yourself picking up a granola bar or a ‘healthy’ juice / drink without reading the nutrition label, just because it sounds and looks healthy? That’s a big no-no. Most of these health foods, while they have great marketing and packaging to make them look healthy, are actually not. The only way to ensure a health food is actually healthy is to read the nutrition label. So, what ingredients should we look for on these labels and what should we avoid? Ingredients to look for: whole ingredients, ingredients that you are familiar with, and ingredients that you can pronounce. Ingredients to avoid: any type of acid (eg. citric acid, benzoic acid, ascorbic acid), sugar, any ingredient that you cannot pronounce. Rule of thumb: if you don’t know what the ingredient is or don’t know how to pronounce it, your body will also not know how to digest it.
2. Leaving out entire food groups / avoiding carbs
Leaving out entire food groups, such as fruits or carbs, can be detrimental to your health. While many people try shy away from sugar (which is, by the way, a great decision) the sugar in fruits is not the same as processed sugar, and the myth that it is, is a very common misconception. Please, do not eliminate fruits because you are eliminating sugar — rather, eliminate the processed sweets like gummy bears and desert, as opposed to all sugar. Another common practice which is highly dangerous is avoiding carbs. I promise you that avoiding carbs entirely will not keep you slim. Carbs are in many foods, including in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes – these are all important parts of a well-rounded, healthy diet. Of course, processed carbs are different and you can feel free to avoid these: foods such as white bread, soda, and white pasta, can lead to over-eating and weight gain. In the meantime, adding whole grains to your diet can improve your health and even aid in weight loss. Try quinoa, farro, brown rice (brown rice risotto recipe linked here) or bulgur with your next meal.
3. Worrying in silence
Small amounts of stress can be useful in staying alert or avoiding danger, however, long-term, endless stress can have a negative impact on your health, often resulting in increased blood pressure, headaches, sleep deprivation and chest pain. It’s perfectly normal to worry if you’ve got a looming presentation in front of your boss (in fact, we’d be worried if you didn’t have some anxiety) but if it’s small, petty things that are troubling you constantly, this is something you need to get sorted. If you have an issue you are worried about, first of all, do not worry in silence — ask a friend, a parent, a therapist or a trusted mentor whether these are things that are worth worrying about. Then, ask yourself the following the questions: is this something that can impact my life and happiness? Is this something that will affect the bigger picture, or is it just a detail? Some things are valid to stress over, while others aren’t. Choose wisely.