Come January, it can be tempting to try to overhaul eating habits all at once. According to experts, this is a recipe for disaster. “One percent better every day is a lot more successful in the long run than trying to be 100 percent better from day one,” says Bethany Snodgrass, operations manager at the Equinox Fitness Training Institute. If you’re wondering where to start, consider these seemingly-healthy habits that fit bodies should do away with in the New Year.
1. Eating salad for lunch every day
“A lot of leafy greens are 90 percent water, which means that a pile of lettuce every day at 12:30 p.m. could be leaving you without the macronutrient ratio and micronutrients that you need to fuel your day,” explains Katzie Guy-Hamilton, a New York city-based chef and the director of food and beverage at Equinox. Eating tons of raw vegetables can also cause some people to bloat, she says. Alternate between cooked and raw foods throughout the week, she suggests. “Some bodies absorb nutrients better with cooked foods, leading us to the notion that you are your own experiment.”
2. Following a gluten- and dairy-free diet if you don’t have an allergy
“If you never eat gluten, you will find yourself ‘allergic’ to it faster than you think,” Guy-Hamilton says. “When your body is not exposed to something for a very long period of time, that once-a-year bowl of pasta may very well make you sick.” Instead of forgoing gluten and dairy completely, try peppering in small amounts in your meals every now and then. “Eating high-quality yogurt or aged cheeses is a great way to keep yourself exposed to dairy while not necessarily eating it every day,” she says. “The same goes for gluten; a high-quality whole grain sourdough in an appropriate portion will do you far more good than completely abstaining and in turn, regularly eating processed versions of gluten-free products.”
3. Using apple cider vinegar to detox
“Many people drink a spoonful of apple cider vinegar to clear out ‘toxins,’ but there isn’t any research to back up this claim,” says Natalie Rizzo, R.D., New York City-based dietitian. “Most of the studieson vinegar have actually been performed in people with type 2 diabetes.” In other words, they’re not necessarily relevant to the general population. “And your body doesn’t need help clearing out toxins. The liver does it for you,” points out Rizzo.
4. Having a “healthy” dessert every night
There are all kinds of macro-friendly, low-calorie replacement desserts out there. While it’s not the worst thing in the world to have these once in a while, Guy-Hamilton recommends avoiding making them a regular part of your diet. Instead, just let yourself have the real thing occasionally. “Appreciating a well-made dessert made with the best ingredients you can find will be savored far more than having something available to you all the time,” she says.