37 Secrets Nutritionists Won’t Tell You for Free

Proven ways to eat a balanced diet, lose weight, prevent disease, and more, according to registered dietitians.

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Sorry but there is no such thing as "healthy" sugar

iStock/Elena Elisseeva

"There is a misconception that switching from white sugar to honey, maple syrup, coconut sugar or agave is healthier. Sugar is sugar and eating too much of any of these alternative sweeteners will have the same effect on the body as white sugar. There may be a higher nutrient content in some ‘natural’ alternatives but these occur in very small quantities so in order to glean anything useful you would end up eating a lot of sugar. Natural alternatives tend to be richer in flavor so you may be likely to use less of them, but better to focus on healthier additions to the overall diet and limit all sources of sugar." —Rob Hobson, nutritionist and head of Healthspan

You should be adding more foods into your diet, not taking them out


"When it comes to diet, people tend to be much more concerned about which foods or food groups to eliminate since many are perceived as 'bad.' However, the focus should be on incorporating more of the foods often missing from the diet, such as fiber-rich fruits, healthy vegetables, and whole grains. Adding more healthy foods into the mix can often displace some of the less desirable choices and leave you feeling more satisfied." —Andrew James Pierce, MS, RD, CSSD, CSCS, inventor of the SugarChecked app

Take advantage of your bad memory


"Out of sight, out of mind works for junk food too. If you’re going to purchase tempting treats, don’t keep them visible and you’ll probably forget you even have them! In the meantime, keep good-for-you foods in the front of your fridge so the first thing you see when opening up your refrigerator is fruits, veggies, protein, and healthy snacks." —Audrey Hasse, MS, RDN for Swiss Farms and owner of A.M. Fit

The only thing that pricey juice cleanse will lighten is your wallet


"Don't over-complicate things. You don't need an expensive juice cleanse, because basic pantry staples like flaxseed, cans of tuna, oats, and fresh greens from the market can provide more nutrition and make your dollar go farther." Erinn Gregory, RDN, Phoenix, Arizona

It's fine you gained a little weight


"Don't look to reach an unrealistic body weight. As they age, women should expect to weigh more than they did in their 20s and 30s. It is totally normal and studies show that it is beneficial for supporting bone strength and may even help you live longer. Trying to lose those last 10 pounds is not only extremely frustrating, but the very low calorie diet required to achieve this can lead to poor nutrition and hurt your metabolism. Accept that our bodies change as we age and that's fine." Pam Schoenfeld, MS, RD, featured speaker at the International Wise Traditions Conference

You're going to have to tell yourself no—and it will be hard


"It is quite easy for the eyes to be bigger than the stomach. We may seem ravenous but it’s a necessary habit to keep portions in check. Even though we may be completely satisfied and full halfway through a large French fry or large milkshake, we tend to eat the whole thing because we paid for it. That habit will really pack on pounds over the years. You have to learn to be satisfied with less, plain and simple." Rene Ficek

All calories are not created equal


"Unfortunately, people still think of calories first over quality. They live on fat-free 'foods' or simple starches, like pretzels. They are not eating real food, which leaves them unsatisfied and causes them to eat more over the course of the day. If you choose foods that are high in fiber, protein, and healthy fats you may be consuming more calories in that serving, but it will help you eat less overall and be healthier." Beth Warren, MS, RDN, CDN, founder of Beth Warren Nutrition and author of Living a Real Life With Real Food

Alcoholic drinks don't count as hydration


"If you drink wine or coffee you actually have to hydrate more. I suggest one six-ounce glass of water for every glass of wine or coffee you drink. Health guidelines for women recommend no more than one eight-ounce glass of wine per day. Use smaller glasses and mugs to limit how much you pour and focus on taking smaller sips." Melanie Young, certified nutrition coach, author, radio host

Want to detox? Skip the pills, buy more broccoli


"Detoxing with pills or juices is trendy, but our bodies already have a detoxification system to identify, convert, and process toxins for elimination. However, it needs specific nutrients to work, like glucoraphanin, which is found in greatest concentration in broccoli florets. Broccoli's glucoraphanin works for about 72 hours, so while you should eat it daily. At a minimum, have some every three days." Ashley Koff, RD

Carbs are not the devil


"Carbohydrates have gotten such a bad reputation recently with all the low-carb, crash diets out there but carbs are an important part of our daily nutrient intakes—they are what our brains run on! Carbs should provide about half of our daily calorie needs. Many people think that in order to lose weight they need to cut out carbohydrates completely. But if you’re trying to lose weight while you’re working out then you need to maintain a good supply of glycogen for your muscles and brain by eating healthy carbs." Rachel Zimmerman, RD, CNSC, CD at Indiana University Hospital at IU Health

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