person stretching while sitting and reaching past their toes

9 “Healthy” Habits That Are Actually Really Bad For You

Improving one’s health is a worthwhile goal. However, it’s not a simple one. There are many facets pertaining to health, from activity levels, diet, lifestyle, mental state, and so on. However, fad diet culture and misinformation can lead people to think that certain choices are healthy when they are not. In fact, some of these habits can worsen one’s health. There’s no one-fits-all optimal lifestyle, but this list might help you reevaluate some “healthy” habits that are not living up to their supposed benefits.  

Top 9 “Healthy” Habits to Avoid

Reducing or Eliminating Carbs

Unlike recent fad diet rhetoric, carbs are not the enemy. It’s advisable to avoid processed carbs like white flour and refined white sugar — but don’t throw out whole grains alongside them. Whole grains provide many important nutrients and a lot of fiber vital for gut health. Additionally, carbohydrates are a macronutrient that gives energy to the body. So cutting carbs is not the healthy, sustainable habit it’s touted to be. Instead, swap white bread and potato chips for brown rice, legumes, and bread made from whole grains. [1]

Advertisement

Skipping Gym Rest Days

Less is definitely more in this case. Of course, it’s important to stay active and exercise three to five times a week. However, daily intense workouts do not make a healthy schedule. “Killing yourself on the Stairmaster for an hour a day isn’t going to help you lose any weight or increase your cardiovascular system. By doing this you may be stressing your body out more and cause your cortisol levels to rise and keep your body in an ‘oh crap’ stage,” says fitness instructor Desirae Smith at TruFusion in Las Vegas. “You are better off doing high-intensity workouts and varying the type of exercise you do. Remember, taking a rest day will do the body good.[2]

Read: 11 Foods That Stay Good After Their Expiration Date

Advertisement

Always Opting for a Salad

Salads aren’t always the healthiest meals. Dressings and toppings — such as croutons, cheese, and bacon bits — can skew with the nutritional content. Portion size can also play a huge role. “Many people think that eating a salad is the low-calorie, healthy option. It can be if you do it right. But most get excited by the mix-ins, and end up creating a salad that would be more calorically dense than a sandwich,” explains Lisa Hayim, MS, RD, founder of The Well Necessities and TWN Collection. “Plus, the dressings that bring no nutritional value to the meal usually contain sugar and trans fats.”

Advertisement

Creating Food Rules

Diet culture leaves people with many “food rules” about what they should eat, avoid, restrict, time, etc. “These rules are often rigid and can influence how we feel about ourselves,” says Dr. Angela Youngs, Psy.D. “When we label a food as good or bad, we also label the act of consuming it the same way. From there, we begin to internalize our own worth based on our eating behaviors. This can lead to a complicated relationship with food and our bodies.”

Advertisement

Rules are not intrinsically unhealthy, but it’s important to be aware of the ones you have and how they affect the way you see food and yourself. Keep in mind that many rules are based on weight-loss myths, as opposed to actually healthy habits. Instead, practice intuitive eating to shift away from food rules, to notice hunger cues, and honor them. But if you find your food rules overwhelming, speak to a health professional since this could be a sign of disordered eating. [3]

Read: The standard American diet is deadly. Here are 7 ideas to start eating healthier

Trending Now

Should I Eat or Avoid Falafel?
Should I Eat or Avoid Falafel?
This single mom built her entire house by watching YouTube tutorials
This single mom built her entire house by watching YouTube tutorials
PETA calls for women to go on a sex strike against men who eat meat
PETA calls for women to go on a sex strike against men who eat meat
Retailer rolls out ‘coffee balls’ to replace capsules
Retailer rolls out ‘coffee balls’ to replace capsules
Bill Gates released swarm of mosquitos into audience while talking abo...
Bill Gates released swarm of mosquitos into audience while talking abo...
Mike Tyson Reveals He is Suffering from Sciatica
Mike Tyson Reveals He is Suffering from Sciatica
Woman’s own immune system has possibly cured her of HIV
Woman’s own immune system has possibly cured her of HIV
Glow-in-the-dark roads trialled to reduce road toll, protect wildlife
Glow-in-the-dark roads trialled to reduce road toll, protect wildlife
Daily 'breath training' can work as well as medicine to reduce high bl...
Daily 'breath training' can work as well as medicine to reduce high bl...
He's In A Night Club Bathroom Washing His Hands. Now Keep Your Eyes On...
He's In A Night Club Bathroom Washing His Hands. Now Keep Your Eyes On...
J&J tried to block lawsuits from 40,000 cancer patients. A court wants...
J&J tried to block lawsuits from 40,000 cancer patients. A court wants...
Which FORM of Magnesium Should YOU Take?
Which FORM of Magnesium Should YOU Take?
Advertisement

Juice Cleanses

Juice cleanses claim to shed pounds quickly while “detoxing” the body. However, juices are low in fiber and don’t provide enough calories in a day, leading to participants feeling hungry, irritable, and fatigued. Plus, these kinds of cleanses can lead to, or exacerbate, an unhealthy relationship with food. They can contribute to disordered eating patterns — such as an obsessive preoccupation with food, or villainizing some foods while deeming others “safe”.

Advertisement

There isn’t sufficient scientific evidence that supports the claim that juices cleanse the body of toxins. In fact, detoxing isn’t often needed, since the body has its own natural “detoxing” system through the liver, kidneys, lungs, skin, and intestines. Skip the juice cleanses, and detox with a healthy diet including fresh produce, legumes, whole grains, and regular physical activity. [4]

Advertisement

Only Focusing on Cardio

Cardio exercises — like running, swimming, biking, or going on the elliptical or stair master — burn calories, and improve blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels, while strengthening the lungs and heart. However, it shouldn’t be the only exercise on the schedule. Instead, combine it with strength and resistance training, which can accelerate weight loss, prevent back pain, improve balance, and improve mental health. [5]

Read: Permaculture Garden Produces 7000 Pounds of Organic Food Per Year on a Tenth of an Acre

Advertisement

Drinking Diet Soda

Diet soda and zero-calorie soft drinks are marketed to be healthier and more weight-loss-friendly. However, research has found that these drinks can actually lead to weight gain because they can cause an increase in appetite as well as food cravings. Artificial sweeteners themselves can cause negative effects. For instance, aspartame can lead to headaches, insomnia, and anxiety; sucralose, the main ingredient in Splenda, can cause loose bowels.

Advertisement

Skipping Meals

Skipping meals might seem like a simple way to lower caloric intake but it’s not a good weight-loss solution long-term. This habit can deprive the body of important nutrition, causing negative symptoms like irritability, poor concentration, and fatigue. It also makes people more likely to overeat at the next meal because of the built-up hunger. Overall, three balanced meals are typically the best way to stay healthy and lose weight if desired. 

Using Q-Tips

Q-Tips used to be the staple of ear hygiene. But now “do not insert the swab into ear canal” is printed on most packages of Q-Tip brands. According to Dr. Martin Burton, a professor of otolaryngology at the University of Oxford in England, Q-Tips can be harmful. They can irritate the delicate skin in the canal, puncture the eardrum, or bring foreign bacteria into the canal. Plus, earwax is anti-bacterial and doesn’t ordinarily need to be cleaned out.

Read: Someone Explained Why Veganism Is Not Cruelty-Free, And It Might Make You Think Twice

Sources

  1. “9 common ‘healthy’ choices that are actually sabotaging your diet.Business Insider. Holly Smith. July 11, 2018
  2. “26 “Healthy” Habits That Are Actually Really Bad For You.” Woman’s Day. Perri O. Blumberg. December 27, 2016
  3. “What Are Food Rules (And How To Break Them).Very Well Fit. Brittany Hammond. September 1, 2022
  4. “It’s Time to Leave Juice Cleanses Behind — Here’s Why.Healthline. February 7, 2022
  5. “10 ‘healthy’ habits that are actually really bad for you.Insider. Michael Serrur. March 1, 2017
Sarah Biren
Freelance Writer
Sarah is a baker, cook, author, and blogger living in Toronto. She believes that food is the best method of healing and a classic way of bringing people together. In her spare time, Sarah does yoga, reads cookbooks, writes stories, and finds ways to make any type of food in her blender.
Advertisement