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Top ten nutrition mistakes

1. Skipping breakfast

The body requires regular food, so unless recommended by an expert, breakfast is an important routine to break-the-fast of overnight rest, whilst setting you up for the day ahead. Breakfast should contain some low glycaemic index (GI) carbohydrates, protein and fluids.

2. Believing that exercise means you can eat what you want

Exercise does not allow you to eat what ever you want! Large amounts of high fat or sugary foods provide low nutritional value options, and if eaten consistently in the diet can lead to nutrient deficiencies. Variety is key. No food should be completely excluded from your diet but poorer food choices should be eaten in moderation.

3. Constant dieting

Following the latest diet craze can be at the expense of more reliable and sustainable practices. There is no magic formula to dieting. Small dietary improvements, behavior change and determination over time are good places to start with anyone looking to address a specific individual goal such as losing body weight.

4. Choosing the wrong type of carbohydrates

High GI carbohydrates or refined and processed foods contain few nutrients and can result in your energy levels rising and falling rapidly throughout the day. To stabilize your blood glucose levels and increase your nutrient intake, your diet should contain low GI carbohydrates and energy from vegetables. High GI carbohydrates should only be eaten around exercise.

5. Forgetting about your immune system

A healthy diet can boost your immune system and help fight infections. As a rule of thumb, try to drink 2-3 litres of fluid a day, eat 2-3 portions of fruit, 3-5 portions of vegetables, quality protein and nutrient dense carbohydrates. Reduce your intake of refined and processed foods such as pastry, biscuits, white bread and milk chocolate.

6. Replacing meals with convenience foods

Cereal bars, sports bar or breakfast biscuits contain high levels of sugar and very little protein or nutrients – if any. Read the food label carefully to work out how many calories, carbohydrate, protein and additional vitamins and minerals the food provides. They are not designed to replace a meal. A sandwich, soup or piece of fruit is a far better option.

7. Not eating enough carbohydrate

Low carbohydrate diets have grown in popularity in recent years. Carbohydrate is essential for energy, brain function, delaying fatigue and is the preferred fuel for exercising muscles. Being clever about your carbohydrate intake is the key. Learn to choose the right type of carbohydrate at the right time. And don’t forget vegetables provide carbohydrate, this isn’t always about pasta!

8. Relying on stimulants for energy

Caffeine is commonly used to boost alertness and concentration, and is widely available in the diet. A common sense approach to caffeine intake is key, with the side effects of caffeine (headaches, sleepiness, shakiness and poor attention spans) largely individual. Just be mindful of the forms that caffeine is present, and the total nutritional value/content that they provide. For example a Starbucks coffee can contain 400-500 calories, which isn’t typically factored into an individuals daily intake!

9. Failing to drink enough

Staying well hydrated is important for the body to function properly. If you become dehydrated you may experience symptoms such as thirst, headaches, poor concentration, lethargy and nausea. Drinking too little throughout the day is a common problem, particularly for people who just rely on coffee to get them through the day. This isn’t about drinking like a fish, just promoting fluid intake at various points of the day, perhaps totalling 2-3 litres.

10. Not eating enough healthy fats

Not all fats are bad for us. Healthy fats such as avocados, nuts, olives, coconut, green leafy vegetables, olive oil and oily fish can help improve mood and mental function and boost overall health and well-being.