Think you're fit? Are you the master of your diet destiny? Confident that you make mostly smart decisions about food?
A new poll from Consumer Reports says that close to 90 percent of Americans claim to eat a healthy diet, but most of us may be giving ourselves more credit than we deserve.
Of those surveyed, only 15 percent actually counted calories and only 58 percent ate the recommended five or more servings of fruits and vegetables a day. Roughly 30 percent who say they "carefully limit sugar" actually slurp up a sugar-sweetened drink most days. And 10 percent who say they "strictly limit their fat" had bacon or another fatty meat for breakfast.
This is sad and pathetic news, people. It's this very same delusional way of thinking that has our country pushing higher and higher obesity rates every year. Just as with alcoholism, drug addiction or any other chronic issue, admitting you have a problem is the first step to solving it!
Here, five ways we're tricking, gaming and cheating ourselves into believing we're healthier than we really are ...
1. We tweak the numbers to suit our goal Even if a 3 ounce portion of chicken or 2 ounces of pasta is one serving, we figure just a little bit more won't hurt. After all, another smidge here or there won't really count, right? And calories consumed in the middle of the night don't count either. Rrrright. This little game we play with ourselves is an extension of keeping track of what you're eating "in your head." Clearly, there is a method to the madness of tracking your calories in a food journal.
2. We cut carbs, but make up for it by eating more ... bacon! If I could have a penny for every time this year I've already heard people say, "I'm giving up carbs!" It may have worked for Drew Carey, I guess, but giving something up does not make us any healthier. It just makes us feel deprived. Plus, we'll often convince ourselves that we "deserve" a new evil when we've given up the original bad guy. If you're not going to allow yourself that cookie, but you "make up for it" with say, CHEESE—sorry, you're not doing yourself any favors.
3. We drink "diet" sodas, eat "diet" pudding, "low-fat" granola bars, etc. None of these are real food. In fact, they're Franken-food made with black box warning ingredients like the neurotoxin in diet soda phenylalanine or processed soy that may upset your body's delicate hormonal balance. Anyone serious about losing weight should steer clear of a product labeled "DIET." Just look at the first three letters of that word — says it all, I'm tellin' you!
4. We pick "easy-to-go," "natural" snacks over an apple. I know—fruit is just such a pain in the ass, right? We have to buy it at $2.49 a pound (well, if we want the organic ones that are supposedly free of nasty pesticides) and then eat it before it rots at the bottom of our fridges. And it's so boring! Instead, we'll just get some pre-packaged dried fruit snacks or applesauces or something. It's gotta be the same, cuz it says "all natural," right?... WRONG. Just. No. Stop. Please.
5. Figuring we know it all, we remain blissfully ignorant. "I'll just eat a little less and take the stairs instead of the elevator." "The real evils are sugar and fat, like in doughnuts and pizza, but whole wheat bagels and pretzels are better choices." Myths and fairy tales. Obviously, we're not as informed as we like to think we are. (After all, watching a whole season of The Biggest Loser doesn't make any of us a certified nutritionist or personal trainer.) The good news is you can always tap the knowledge of someone who is one of those things ... via books, the all-mighty Internet, Twitter, whatever. It seems most of us could all stand to continually educate ourselves on better ways to keep our health on track.
Confession time — are you really as healthy as you think you are?