5 Nutrition Mistakes to Avoid

Getting your nutrition right is the most important way to prevent or reverse disease.  To protect your health, avoid these 5 nutrition mistakes.

#1 Eating everything in moderation

Well-meaning doctors and nutritionists often tell patients to eat everything in moderation. One reason this fails is that you are left to figure out what “moderation” means for you. Can you eat sugar cookies once a day, once a week, or once a month? How many French fries are okay? Is a cheat day harmful? Smaller portions of junk tend to leave you hungry, irritable, unsatisfied, and you don’t even know if you are doing it right.

Furthermore, inflammatory diseases like atherosclerosis, autoimmune disorders, diabetes, and certain cancers are directly related to what you eat.  Inflammation occurs with even small amounts of junk food. Even though you’ve “cut back”, your health may not be improved. If you are using moderation, you may be choosing a life of moderate disease.

On the other hand, nutritious, unprocessed, whole foods are healing and require no portion control. Nutrient-rich whole food plant-based foods help you reach your health goals faster.

#2 Exercising so you can eat whatever you want

Exercising to compensate for a bad diet is one of the worst things you can do to yourself. With enough rigorous exercise, people on a high fat, fast food diets can still burn enough calories to lose weight and look great. But, their blood vessels will not be in good shape at all.

As an anesthesiologist, there were times when I took care of athletic-looking, slender men who came to the O.R. for quadruple bypass heart surgery.  Some were even runners, swimmers, bikers, etc. All of them had experienced heart attacks caused by clogged arteries.

Exercise is not enough to stop your arteries from clogging. The main factor is what you eat. Even strenuous workouts cannot compensate for the arterial damage caused by inflammatory animal products and processed junk foods.

#3 Cutting out carbs

We depend on starchy carbohydrates for energy. Reducing carbohydrates is a struggle because it is unnatural. Even if this helps you lose weight, you will feel weak, deprived, and hungry all the time.

Willpower only works for so long. One day you will break down and eat everything in sight. It is better to focus on the type of carbohydrate you are eating not the quantity. Many carbs are good for you. The human body thrives on nutrient-rich, high-fiber, unrefined carbs, like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, potatoes, and beans.

As much as possible, avoid the bad carbs (processed sugar and refined flours) and increase the good ones. Soon you’ll be delighted that you can eat larger portions and feel comfortably full.

#4 Eating more meat and eggs to build muscle

Stop fixating on protein. An obsession with protein acidifies your body, clogs your arteries, and causes inflammation.  Some personal trainers are still promoting the myth that you need to eat animal protein to build your muscles.

Commonly, Americans eat 40% carb, 30% protein and 30% fat. Large portions of animal proteins increase the risk for diabetes, heart problems, gastrointestinal diseases, and overworked kidneys. You can easily get all of the protein you need from plant-based foods. A healthy goal is 80% carb, 10% protein, and 10% fat. Beans and lentils are very high in protein. The best way to increase muscle tone is by exercising. As long as you are eating enough calories, you will be getting enough protein.

#5 Relying on supplements to improve your nutrition

These “natural” supplements or nutraceuticals can be fraught with risk.  Companies are pushing supplements to help you lose weight and protect your heart, joints, eyes, brain, prostate, etc. However, these products are not regulated to the same extent as pharmaceutical drugs. Many vitamins and supplements are mega dose formulations that cause toxic side effects.

That being said, there are some exceptions. Vitamin B 12 is a supplement that is required for people on a vegan diet because vitamin B 12 is not found in plants. If you don’t eat meat, you must take this supplement. Vitamin B 12 deficiency is very dangerous and can cause permanent damage to the nervous system and brain.

Unless you live in a year-round sunny place, you probably need a Vitamin D supplement. Vitamin D is important for your immune system, bones, heart, breasts, and brain. It plays a role in fighting a variety of diseases. Before taking a vitamin D supplement, get tested to determine your level and how much you need.

If you are looking for a way to improve your health with nutrition, rely mainly on eating good food. Good nutrition includes fruit, vegetables, whole grains and beans. Nourishing yourself with the right types of food is always the best way to protect your health.


By |2019-05-29T14:02:11-05:00September 7th, 2017|Eat delicious food, Recommendations & Thoughts|9 Comments

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About the Author:

Dr. Carla Hightower, MD, MBA is a certified integrative health coach, speaker, and corporate wellness consultant. She helps busy people develop healthier lifestyle habits and use plant-based nutrition so they can heal themselves. She provides educational information through her health coaching services and an online course on diabetes. In addition she is an engaging speaker on the subject of plant-based food and healthy lifestyle habits that improve health, energy and productivity. In her prior career she practiced anesthesiology for 21 years. In the midst of that career she overcame personal health challenges by adopting a plant-based lifestyle. Also, she observed that most of her patients were suffering from preventable complications of chronic lifestyle diseases. From those experiences she is motivated to teach people how to take full control of their health through better eating and lifestyle habits.


  1. K. M. Lee September 8, 2017 at 11:21 am - Reply

    Thank you for highlighting these mistakes in an easy to “digest” manner. Much appreciated!

    • Carla Hightower, MD September 8, 2017 at 7:53 pm - Reply

      You’re welcome. Thank you for commenting and letting me know what information is helpful to you!

  2. Patricia Perry, MD September 8, 2017 at 1:25 pm - Reply

    Awesom information! Thank you for providing insightful material and being a wonderful resource for keeping us healthy.

    • Carla Hightower, MD September 8, 2017 at 7:52 pm - Reply

      You’re welcome. Thank you for your comments and review. I like knowing what my readers find valuable!

  3. Patricia Perry, MD September 8, 2017 at 1:26 pm - Reply


  4. Carl Jenkins September 8, 2017 at 9:18 pm - Reply

    I never thought about the B12 supplement. I do take a D3. I will pick up B12 tomorrow! Thanks for the education!

  5. Harry Wilkins September 9, 2017 at 9:17 am - Reply

    Very straight forward advice that could help increase ones health and longevity. Thanks so much for you very timely advice.

    • Carla Hightower, MD September 12, 2017 at 6:22 pm - Reply

      You’re welcome. I am glad that this blog post was helpful and I look forward to the opportunity to stay in touch.

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