7 Habits You Thought Were Unhealthy But Actually Aren’t

Depending on when you catch me, I’m basically either the healthiest or least-healthy person you’ll ever meet.

Let me explain. I tend to talk a big game when it comes to all things trendily health-related–I like green smoothies, keep a bag of Chia seeds at my desk at all times, and follow a Facebook account called “Mind Body Green” that often posts lists of the “best Instagrams of kale salads” from the week–but when it actually comes down to it, I’m probably not actually all that healthy. I like cheese. Cookies. Skipping workouts. Whatever, sue me–I am aware of the things that I do that are healthy, and I am aware of the things I do that are not healthy.

This only proves itself to be a problem then I dwell too long on the various health blogs and sites that I have been known to frequent. I’ve written about my issues with the health industry as a whole before, which are mainly that you’re always being told you things that are healthy, definitively, only to hear that, actually, they aren’t so healthy after all. (Like, “JK–see, we thought that agave syrup was the miracle sweetener that would change your life for the better. But we were wrong! It’s terrible for you. But let us tell you about stevia…”)

As Sir-Mix-A-Lot once famously said, I ain’t down with that. I’m more into finding things that you think aren’t healthy and either finding ways to make them healthier, or proving that, all along, they actually were pretty healthy.  So, today, let’s all cut ourselves a break–check out these habits that you’ve always thought were unhealthy (even if you do them all the time) but are actually totally fine.

Eating Late At Night

Whether it's through the Internet grapevine or something that your mom screamed at you right when you were about to tuck into a sleeve of Thin Mints before you go to bed, you've probably heard at one point or another that eating late at night is not great for you. Well, late-night snackers, I've got great news for you--eating late at night is actually totally fine. In fact, it could be better for you to eat than to not eat, if the mood strikes you--ignoring your hunger right before you go to bed could actually backfire, since hunger pangs could keep you up and disturb your sleep. You shouldn't eat, like, a ton of food or anything particularly sugary--doing so will also ensure that you don't get a great night's sleep--but if you feel hungry right before bed, there's no reason why you shouldn't have a small snack.

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Skipping Workouts

If you've caught the January fitness bug and have been forcing yourself to hit the gym every day since the start of 2016, take a deep breath. And take a breath--you actually should be skipping workouts every now and then. Exercising too much can cause things like mood swings, a disruption in your menstrual cycle, and feeling exhausted all the time. So, while working out is certainly important, just make sure you're taking one to three breaks a week. Plus, if you literally just hate working out, there's no reason to force yourself to do so--just make sure you're getting some other forms of movement in, like walking or dancing.

Image source:iStock

Skipping Dessert

If the thought of skipping your nightly cookie in the name of "health" makes you want to weep, don't worry--eating dessert is not actually all that bad for you.  While, sure, eating sugar in excess is certainly unhealthy, if you're filling up on healthy foods throughout the day, there's no reason why you shouldn't eat some dessert--have your cake and eat it too, if you will. Doing so will help keep you mindful about other things you're eating and help prevent irksome feelings that come from an attempt at being healthy, like insatiable cravings and sensations of withdrawal.

Image source:iStock

Skipping Showers

Overslept and skipped your shower today? It's no biggie--in fact, you can go ahead and pat yourself on the back, since doing so was probably better for your health. See, most people (at least in the United States) have been led to believe that showering every day is a non-negotiable, but that simply isn't true. Showering every day can dry out your skin and hair and stunt the production of  the good, healthy bacteria that your body produces. Basically, unless you're rolling around in mud and/or working out extremely hard every day, you definitely should not be showering each and every day.

Image source:iStock

Not Brushing Your Teeth

Uh, obviously this one has a caveat. You should definitely be brushing your teeth twice a day. But if you've always been told to brush your teeth after every meal, there's actually no need to do so. If you brush your teeth after eating something particularly acidic--like soda, tomatoes, or anything citrus-y--this could actually be damaging to your teeth, since acidic foods like these automatically soften tooth enamel. This means that brushing right after could further erode and damage your tooth enamel. Plus, you probably don't want to brush your teeth more than two or three times a day, anyway--"overbrushing" is a real thing that, in addition to damaging enamel, can cause sensitive teeth and receding gums.

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Drinking Coffee Before A Nap

It sounds counterintuitive, but drinking a cup right before your afternoon nap might be the best thing that's ever happened to you. In a recent study done in Japan that examined how to maximize the benefits of naps, results showed that those who drank 200 milligrams of caffeine right before a twenty-minute nap felt more alert and performed better on cognitive tests than those who did not. So, maybe still stay away from caffeine late at night, but if you want to truly understand what it means to take a "power nap," by all means, feel free to hit up Starbucks before you do so.

Image source:iStock

Passing On 'Diet' Products

Don't let any food that markets itself as a "diet" product fool you--while diet sodas and snacks may have fewer calories and fat than their regular counterparts, they definitely aren't healthier. These products usually use artificial sugar which, though they lower the calorie count of a food, could cause weight gain, metabolic syndrome, type II diabetes, and high blood pressure later on down the road. Plus, artificial sweeteners can also cause cravings for actual sugar a few hours after you consume it, making the choice to go with a "diet" product basically meaningless. So, while soda definitely isn't healthy, by any means, if you have the choice between a Diet Coke and regular Coke, just go ahead and pick the regular one.

Image source:iStock

Were you relieved by any of these habits? Which ones in particular? Let us know in the comments!

You can reach the author, Sara Hendricks, on Twitter and Instagram.

7 Weird Foods You Thought Were Unhealthy But Actually Aren’t

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