Your Diet Is Probably Worse Than You Think

America has a food problem.

We’re obsessed with crash diets, from 3-day juice cleanses to weekend starvation regimens and 24-hour detox plans, but we can’t stop eating processed, fatty foods.

Portion sizes in the US have increased up to 700% in the last three decades; most of us eat twice the amount of protein we need to power our muscles and less than half the fruits and vegetables we rely on to fill us up and regulate our digestive systems.

As healthy as you think your diet may be, it’s likely full of at least a few surprises that might be silently hampering your fitness goals.

It's Monday morning. Before you leave for the office, do you eat A) a bowl of cereal or B) toast and eggs?

You should have picked: B) Toast and eggs

Eggs are packed with protein to keep you full and vitamins to power your immune system and keep your hair and nails healthy. And hard-boiling them doesn't add any fat or calories.

The toast adds some healthy carbs for energy and fibre to keep your digestive system running smoothly.

You've been working for a few hours. Your mind is getting foggy and you're fighting off the urge to crawl under your desk with a pillow and blanket. Do you A) head to the kitchen for a coffee or B) put on some tennis shoes and go for a quick stroll around the block?

You should have picked: B) Grab your shoes and go for a walk.

Instead of grabbing another cup of coffee, try hopping outside for a few minutes.

In addition to avoiding the added sugar and calories, you'll be boosting your brain power -- walking outside, recent research has shown, helps foster creative thinking and concentration throughout the day.

It's lunchtime at the office and you're ravenous, but you have tons of work to do today and not a lot of time to eat. Do you A) order delivery and nosh at your desk or B) take your food outside and eat there?

You should have picked: Get outside!

Whether it's take-out or a home-cooked meal, your body will benefit from enjoying it outside where, you can concentrate on two things: 1) the taste of your food (which will keep you from overeating) and 2) the great outdoors (outside time boosts creativity, as does boredom -- even if it's just for a few minutes). Employees who take regular breaks are also more productive throughout the day.

You don't have time to waste!

When you get hungry for a snack, you typically grab A) a handful of granola or B) carrots and hummus?

You should have said: B) Carrots and hummus.

While often associated with wholesome vegan hippies and long, heart-pumping hikes in the woods, granola is packed with sugar and calories -- a cup can contain up to 600 (for comparison, that's the same amount as 2 homemade turkey and cheese sandwiches or about 4 cereal bars).

By comparison, carrots are high in fibre (great for digestion) and Vitamin A (which helps keep skin glowing and maintain eyesight). Pair your crunchy snack with some creamy hummus for a protein boost to tide you over until dinner.

It's a typical weeknight. You've just gotten home and it's time for dinner. Do you usually A) rummage through the fridge and eat whatever you can find (you're starving) or B) Make yourself a nice fresh salad with some cheese or chicken on top?

You should have said: B) Make yourself a fresh salad.

If you picked the enitre fridge, you probably also selected 'none of the above' for question 1 of this quiz and decided to opt out of lunch this afternoon. By the time you get home for dinner, of course you're starving.

By the time your appetite gets this big, you likely aren't paying much attention to what you put in your belly.

Instead of avoiding your hunger during the day, take a few breaks to eat and keep snacks at your desk. In addition to curbing your late-night cravings, eating a few healthy meals throughout the day will also help keep your blood sugar levels steady and keep you from crashing mid-afternoon.

On the weekend, your friends want to go to brunch. Do you typically order A) an egg-white omelette with toast or B) a fruit and granola parfait?

You should have picked: A) The protein-rich omelette.

Even if it can't be made with egg whites (which have far less calories than plain old eggs and virtually no cholesterol), you're still getting a more balanced meal than you would with the parfait, which can pack just as many calories but, since it's so high in sugar (about 60 grams or two cans of soda), will leave you crashing and hungry later.

If you're into parfait, you can still make it at home: Just use fat-free, plain yogurt instead of the sweetened, full-fat kind that's typically used in restaurants, and substitute the high-sugar, high-calorie granola for a handful of high-fibre cereal.

What does your fruit and veggie intake for a week look like? (No, pizza sauce doesn't count as a vegetable). A) 14-20 or B) 0-14?

You should have picked: A) 14-20.

If you're not getting at least a couple servings of fresh fruits and vegetables each day, you're likely not getting the vitamins and fibre you need to keep your immune system functioning at its prime, maintain the health of your skin and nails, and keep your immune system running smoothly.

Think you might not be getting enough? Try throwing some broccoli in with your next dish of pasta or slicing some banana into your morning oatmeal.

You've been really good about cutting back on soda. So when it comes time to choose a drink with your meal, you usually go for A) an iced tea or B) a glass of fresh-squeezed OJ?

You should have picked: A) Iced tea.

A glass of orange juice contains 165 calories, 20 more than a glass of Coca-Cola. Most of those calories are thanks to its high sugar content (one glass of OJ packs 33 grams, vs the 39 grams in a can of Coke). Iced tea, by contrast, is sugar and calorie-free.


How many meals do you usually eat each day? A) 6 or B) 3?

You should have picked: Neither! It depends on you.

If you're used to feeling tired about 3 hours after you eat, your meal could be to blame. Rather than noshing on carb- or fat-heavy foods, eat balanced dishes that are lower in fat and have almost an equal amount of protein and carbohydrates, like a turkey sandwich or a salad with protein-rich nuts or beans.

The protein protects your blood sugar from sharp peaks and falls and keeps your energy levels steady. If three meals like this work for you, great. If you need six smaller ones, that's fine too.

Now that you've seen what's missing from your diet, think you know which of these foods has more calories?

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