5 'healthy' lifestyle changes that are actually bad for you

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Sep 16, 2015 06:00 AM EDT

SAN FRANCISCO - JULY 24: Bottles of Diet Coke are displayed before the start of the baseball game with the San Francisco Giants and the Atlanta Braves at AT&T Park July 24, 2007 in San Francisco, California. A study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association states that drinking diet soda can increase the risk of 'metabolic syndrome,' a contributor to heart disease and diabetes, by 48 percent. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images) (Photo : Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

It's easy for us to fall into the pit of wrong information when it comes to switching out unhealthy habits with better, more informed eating and wellness habits, especially when there's no health professional involved. Sure, what works for your best friend or neighbor might work for you as well, but there are still some mistakes to avoid when it comes to lifestyle changes.

1. Replacing regular soda with diet or zero-calorie soda. What is the point of zero-calorie soda anyway? If you're eating to sustain and nourish yourself in a healthy manner, then why would you drink 350 mL of black colored nothing? It's actually not nothing, because zero calorie drinks contain aspartame and a range of other non-organic chemicals that you will store in your body.

Additionally, Health reports that according to Brian Quebbemann, MD, a weight loss specialist in Newport Beach, California, "Artificial sweeteners increase your addiction to sweets and are a much stronger stimulant of the brain's pleasure center than sugar. As a result, artificial sweeteners may be more addictive than sugar, and in fact cause people to crave sweets even more."

Address your sweet tooth with naturally flavored water you can make at home. Infuse your water with lemons, strawberries, apples, and fruits of your choice to make interesting refreshments out of your regular water.

2. Replacing your regular desk to a standing desk. Health experts repeatedly warned the public about the health risks linked to too much sitting, including heart disease, cancer, and type 2 diabetes, among others. However, don't be too quick to throw away your desk, as Health reports that too much standing may cause several health problems such as leg cramps, backaches, and foot pain. Shape reports that as per Steven Knauf, a chiropractor with The Joint Chiropractic, a nationwide network of chiropractors, "The standing position can cause strain on your veins, back, and joints."

The solution? Brisk walk for about 20 minutes per day. No, your commute from the train station to the office does not count. Make that 20 minutes of brisk walking on top of your regular number of steps per day. Look at it as a de-stressing walk after work, or an energy boost in the morning.

3. Replacing low fat milk with skim milk. There's a reason why low fat milk is still thriving in the market today, and that's because despite dieting and trying to lose weight, the human body still needs a regulated, minimal fat intake to function properly. In fact, Prevention reports that according to Swedish study that analyzed fat consumption, those who consumed high-fat milk, butter, and cream were surprisingly less prone to becoming obese within a 12 year period than their counterparts who never or rarely ate high-fat dairy.

According to Tori Cohen, RD, director of food and nutrition services at Los Robles Hospital in Thousand Oaks, California, "Fat sustains you longer, so you're fuller and likely to eat less overall."

4. Cigarettes for e-cigs. Sure, you're no longer inhaling tobacco, but studies show there aren't much health benefits to smoking electronic cigarettes, either. Health reports that according to Ray Casciari, MD, board certified pulmonologist at St. Joseph Hospital in Orange, California, "One small study showed the rate of getting off cigarettes by using e-cigs was about 14 percent, the same success rate as going cold turkey. In fact, people often end up smoking both types of cigarettes, so it's actually worse."

The alternative? Quit smoking altogether, but ask for your health provider's help, and seek a support group so you can effectively quit smoking.

5. Homemade snacks for energy bars. If you really want to go down the healthier route, pack yourself an apple, homemade fruit salad, or a tuna sandwich laden with tomatoes and lettuce and non-fat mayonnaise instead of tossing an energy bar into your bag. Health reports that according to Dr. Quebbemann, "Energy bars are often packed with hidden sugars such as agave syrup, rice syrup, and high fructose corn syrup, as well as highly addictive sugar substitutes like sucralose, and 'natural flavors' that aren't." Read the label and find out what really goes into your energy bar before picking it up at your local grocery. Chances are, you can make a more natural, healthier snack at home, without the added artificial ingredients.

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