Healthy diets are made up mainly of nutrient-rich foods, such as legumes, fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, lean protein and nuts and seeds. Unhealthy diets are high in fat, saturated fat, trans fat, sodium and added sugars. But, often times, it isn’t always so cut and dry and the lines between healthy and unhealthy become blurred.
Fortunately for us, some things that seem unhealthy actually aren’t bad for you when consumed in moderation! Here are five things that seem unhealthy — but are actually pretty good for you.
1. A glass of wine (or two) with dinner
When dieting, you’ve likely heard that it’s best to avoid the calorie heavy alcohol at all cost. But a recent review of studies on the impact of alcohol on weight gain published in Current Obesity Reports found that frequent light to moderate alcohol intake — meaning at most two drinks a day for men and one for women — does not seem to be associated with obesity risk.
However, consuming five or more drinks on an occasion (binge drinking), and heavy drinking (more than four drinks in a day for men, or more than three for women) were linked to an increased risk of obesity and a growing waistline.
So next time you’re out for dinner, don’t feel bad about accompanying the meal with a glass of wine or two. Just don’t overdue it!
2. Indulging in your favorite comfort foods
According to Los Angeles based nutritionist, Rachel Beller, RDN, “it’s ok to enjoy comfort foods from time to time.”
In fact, depriving yourself of your guilty pleasures could actually backfire on you and lead you down a road of binge-eating and mayhem.
Beller says the key is finding foods that indulge your cravings, but also provide beneficial returns for your health — ie. pizza made with whole grain crust rather than a bag of cheetos. Reaching for foods that provide no nutritional value is always counterproductive, so if you do indulge in a meal that throws you off the nutritional band wagon, don’t beat yourself up and slide into a junk food-filled abyss.
3. Taking a break from exercise
Those that have committed to a workout routine know that when you’re trying to reach a health goal, it can be easy to fall into the mindset that you need to workout everyday to see gains. Truth be told, it’s not a good idea to hit the gym every single day as your body needs time to recover. Certified personal trainer Kelvin Gary, owner of Body Space Fitness in New York City says, “when you work out, your body breaks down muscle tissue,” he explains. “You then need to allow your body time to recover so it can re-build the muscle tissue and make it even stronger.” Recovery time varies by age, level of fitness etc, but at the least, Gary recommends one rest day each week. “That means not exercising at all or doing something restorative like yoga or easy stretching,” he says.
4. Occasionally indulging in chocolate
For those with a sweet tooth, this is going to be music to your ears. “Chocolate’s main ingredient cacao contains a wealth of polyphenols — a powerful anti-inflammatory agent,” says Beller. “In fact, it has twice the amount found in red wine, three times that of green tea, and four times more than black tea.” Cacao also has a host of health benefits including reducing high cholesterol, lowering blood pressure, staving off diabetes by reducing insulin resistance, and sharpening mental function by promoting blood flow to the brain and neuronal growth.
Beller suggests that you enjoy chocolate the healthy way by pairing a few squares of 70% or higher dark chocolate with strawberries or melted onto bananas, mix 2 tablespoons unsweetened pure cocoa powder into your coffee or a cup of warm milk or sprinkle cacao nibs on oatmeal or a smoothie bowl.
5. Netflix and chilling
A study published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships found that quality time “boo’ed” up sharing media — like TV shows, books, and movies — can help you feel closer, especially if you’re not part of the same social world. Previous research has shown that couples tend to feel more satisfied and committed to their relationship when both partners are part of the same social circle. So, if you’re not hanging with the same friends on the regular, sharing “media experiences” can have a similar effect, says researchers. Grab the remote and start snuggling.
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