7 Biggest Mistakes Made When Clean Eating

Content by: 180 Nutrition

clean eating mistakes

Stu: In all honesty, we don’t prescribe to any diet. There are simply foods we eat and foods we avoid where long lasting health is the goal. The Paleo diet or the ‘clean eating’ framework are great starting points but can be easily misinterpreted.

We receive hundreds of weekly emails based around peoples confusion and frustrations with food which we can now address. So with that in mind we thought we’d write a list of the 7 biggest mistakes people make when wanting to improve their diet, health and overall wellbeing.

1. Not Eating Enough Natural Fat

butterYes, the word is finally spreading that good sources of animal fat aren’t going to clog your arteries.

In fact, studies show how fantastic natural fats are for energy, brain health, glowing skin and reducing inflammation to name a few. But with all this information, a lot people still have a fat phobia and skimp on quality fats with each meal. I always ask myself how can I add more quality fats to each meal and drizzle my meals and smoothies with the good stuff. I include coconut oil, avocados, duck fat, butter, cold pressed olive oil etc. If you are worried about eating fat and losing weight this article may help.

Tip #1 Don’t be shy with quality fats and have them with every meal.

2. Eating Way Too Much Protein

proteinCleaning up your diet usually means lowering your carbohydrate consumption (these levels vary from person to person). So what I see time and time again are people going low carb’, who are also not eating enough fat with each meal and overloading on protein.

I can’t tell you how many times I see a salad loaded with chicken and a small drizzle of olive oil. This is a big no no and a classic example of a low carb’ low fat, high protein diet. For best results (especially weight loss or health issues) I’d recommend increasing natural fats, having moderate protein and moderate to low carbohydrate meals (depending on activity levels & goals).

Tip #2 High protein, low carb’, low fat is not the answer.

3. Switching to Gluten Free Bread

breadThey’ve decided to ditch the wheat and go gluten free. This a fantastic decision, but I believe eating gluten free bread isn’t the answer as it comes with it’s own set of nasties. Most high street gluten free breads contain vegetable oils (I do my best to avoid these, period) as they cause cause inflammation (think weight gain & health disruption).

Gluten free breads also can dramatically raise blood sugar levels, and if it’s health, great energy and/or weight loss you are after, this is a big no. Learn what a Nutritionist thinks here.

Tip #3 Check all the ingredients for vegetable oils, carbohydrate levels and crazy numbers you don’t recognise. If you are not sure, simply avoid gluten free bread.

4. Not Eating Enough Food

foodThis is a super common mistake! You’re all inspired to clean up your diet and you’ve cut out the breads, crackers, most grains and junk foods. So now what? Eating like a limp squirrel with a few nuts, lettuce leaf and a chicken breast is not the way forward either.

Vegetables are by far the best slow burning carb’s out there and I fill half my plate with them (yes, most meals). Combine this with a palm size piece of protein and an overgenerous serving of quality fats, you’ve got a great meal.

Tip #4 Eating less is not the answer, reducing the bad foods that go in your mouth is.

5. Switching to ‘Natural Sweeteners’ Like Agave or Honey

honeyYou’ve decided to kick the sugar (awesome) and cravings kick in quickly. So you switch to ‘healthy’ sweeteners like agave and honey. Agave is a fructose fix and will be doing you no favours in the long term. Honey has less fructose but should be used sparingly (especially if you are trying to lose weight).

Rice malt syrup is a better alternative, but it still doesn’t give you a license to eat as much as you want. Your best bet is to push through the cravings until they subside. A little natural stevia is a good alternative to help you overcome that sweet fix, but kicking the cravings altogether so you don’t rely on sweeteners is your best bet.

Tip #5 Agave is a fructose fix, not a healthy sweetener

6. Overeating ‘Paleo Treats’

paleo treatsThis one is a classic! I’m the first one to say we have some amazing 180 paleo recipes and treats, but that doesn’t give you free rein because it’s now technically ‘paleo’. Common sense here is needed, especially if they have overdone it with the date juice, agave or honey.

A treat is 180 chocolate ball bound together with coconut oil and a raspberry. Not something rolled into the size of a melon with a bucket full of date juice! There is a difference…

Tip #6 Paleo treats are exactly that… treats (and go easy on the ‘healthy’ sweeteners).

7. Giving Up Because of Headaches

HeadacheSo you are all pumped and ready to take action. You ditch the sugar, processed carbs, drop the bread and the junk food! The first few days you are empowered, motivated and keep thinking why didn’t you do this sooner… then, boom! A headache from hell kicks in, the nose starts running and you can barely crawl through the day with a constant fixation of chocolate fudge ice-cream running over and over in your head. Bad moods kick in and you tell yourself what a load of crap this paleo diet, clean eating lark is, and you fall like a landslide and go back to old ways.

If only you knew what lay ahead if you had stuck with it a few more days, as your body is simply detoxing. The fog would lift, the energy would dramatically rise and long lasting great health would follow. You can use our Organic Greens Plus to assist a gentle detox and our Pure L-Glutamine to help with cravings too.

Tip #7 Stick with it! If your diet hasn’t been the best over the years, change doesn’t happen overnight and you will have side effects. But it’s SO worth it long term.

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180 Nutrition

This article was curated by 180 Nutrition who were founded in March 2010 with the goal to offer the very best in natural health supplements and resources. The passionate team are aligned with leading health and wellness professionals including nutritionists, naturopaths, functional medicine and exercise specialists. They regularly connect with... Read More

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27 Replies to “7 Biggest Mistakes Made When Clean Eating”
Nea Costello says:

Great article!! Thank you

Edwin Exham says:

Luvin it high fat low carb diet been on it for 5wks nw n already seeing results trimmed dwn heaps and people and friends got the wondering eye how confusing when I explain to them on this sorta diet. ……puzzled lol, I always tell em when u do it its a one way ticket lol no looking back…
Thanks to my coach, wife, and nutritionists from NZ forgot his name who did the GGS supplement and also to our Tumuora xfit Box owner Olivia Heather for the new healthy lifestyle. Also to you guys its been osum, soo looking foward at extending extra 6wks n go on from there…


John Ardern says:

Agree wholeheartedly with your points above and my own Paleo journey has brought me to very similar conclusions. Any alternative ‘heathy’ snacks should be treated with caution and better not to have them around the house in secret stores (did I just admit to that!). I am also a firm believer in the maxims ‘a little bit of what you fancy does you good’ and ‘everything in moderations’. Moderation is important in relation to most things we eat. Wheat has become a problem due to the huge consumption of bread and products containing wheat. An occasional piece of bread is not going to do you any harm. People can become over zealous whilst not realising that their alternative is just as bad in large quantities. Gluten free is a stepping stone to excluding bread as a staple in our diet. As you mention the bad in any glutten free products will become a problem if eaten daily as a direct bread eating habit. This is a common mistake people make with soya products and any processed food when they try to change their diet. The only thing you can eat everyday in fairly large portions are vegetables and salads and Organic if you can afford.
Two other important points are swilling down food with drinks. I can advise my teenage daughters but they are not listening. Lastly as you say don’t under eat which is easily done if your not adventurous with your food but occasional fasting is not only good for us but I think an important natural part of our evolution. Give your body a rest from the daily eating machine routine and a chance to eliminate by products that can cause harm.

Guy Lawrence says:

Thanks for sharing John, You raise some great points…

Kerensa says:

Thank you. Helps me already!!

Carol says:

I’ve been paleo for almost a year now and have been through many of these challenges… Totally agree with the list. I personally think that overeating “good fats” (like a full jar of nuts all at once) can harm your fat loss too, because paleo gives you a sense of freedom that is often used for eating more than the body needs. Bottom line is that we have to find equilibrium in our diet, just like in other aspects of life!

Patrice says:

Great advice. Will share with my tribe on my Facebook page patrice’s primal plate!

Annette Spencer says:

That is great information. I struggle with the fat content due to many years of following the “food pyramid” and having several generations of heart disease in the family. Thank you.

Guy Lawrence says:

You’re welcome Annette. We also run an in-depth video podcast where we go into many topics at length. This would be a great one for you to start with regarding heart disease and fat. https://180nutrition.com.au/2013/10/02/jimmy-moore-cholesterol-clarity-the-truth-about-heart-disease/ Cheers, Guy

Toni says:

I make my own gluten free bread from scratch and use macadamia oil instead of vegetable oil. The other ingredients are buckwheat, chia, tapioca flour, quinoa, rice malt syrup and xantham gum. Would these ingredients also raise blood sugar levels? I can’t eat wheat and I’m doing clean eating and working out daily, but if eating the gluten free bread would be raising my BGL, I’ll cut it down considerably. Thanks.

Guy Lawrence says:

Hi Toni, unfortunately many gluten free breads will raise BSL considerably due to the starches used. We wrote a great post about it here:

Kimberley says:

Very timely article Guy!
My husband just attended the crossfit level 1 on the weekend where they discussed ‘the zone’ style of eating and a big thing he took away from that was that we weren’t eating enough fats!!
almost 1 wk into eating more fat and we are both feeling so much better, satisfied and we don’t need to snack anymore! Feel kind of lost now….I normally have to carry emergency nuts around with me but I haven’t needed them this week.
Thank you!

Guy Lawrence says:

That’s great to hear Kimberly! Yep increasing those natural fats along with reducing anti-inflammatory foods will go a long way whilst Crossfitting 😉 Guy

Lygeia says:

Switching from honey to rice malt syrup is a bad idea. Rice is a grain.

julia brydon says:

please help,, got a thyroid problem,, just had bloods done ,, now cholesterol is 8.1!!!! trying to be careful,, but can too much good fat interfere???, im 25 kg heavier than I was , before the thyroid was diagnosed.

Guy Lawrence says:

Hi Julia, personally I would be seeking a great health practitioner as there are many factors that can contribute to this. I would happily recommend Lynda, who you can contact here . Hope that helps, Guy

Huia says:

Thanks for this article. Little adjustments are always needed.

I think sometimes I focus to much on protein. How much per meal are you guys looking at??

Guy Lawrence says:

Hi Huia, protein intake will very mainly depending on body size and activity level. A quick google search will help your own personal protein needs… It’s generally anywhere between 1-2g of protein per kg of bodyweight depending on the things I’ve mentioned. Hope that helps, Guy

Ellie says:

This blog is excellent, clarifies many of the questions I have had about clean eating. I think the healthy eating industry (present company excepted) has marketed “healthy treats” so well that we can be forgiven for thinking eating these treats can be an everyday thing.
Altering the amount of protein, limiting gluten free bread and paleo treats will be my next things to tweak as otherwise this way of eating really suits me.
Thank you,

Guy Lawrence says:

Thanks for the kind words Ellie… I think there’s a fine balance between giving people what they want to actually giving people what they need… We try to do both 😉

Maree makelainen says:

Great article! I can totally relate to those mistakes! Having been sugar-free for about a year now and then proceeding to clean up my diet and get rid of all the processed food, the most common mistakes I’ve made – and still working through – are numbers 1,2, 4 and 6. yeah, I know, that’s quite a few!! I think the first mistake I made was eating too much protein. Having tossed the processed junk, I would load up on the protein, have the veggies and then some natural fats. However, as i learned more about this way of eating real food, I realised I was eating way too much protein, so I have now cut down on that and use my palm as a guide for how much to have. However, i still struggle with the eating enough healthy fats and eating enough food. I think it’s still a leftover mindset from all the years of eating low-fat and low calorie. I do struggle with this and fear putting on weight if I eat more fat. I’m working on it but it has to be conscious effort on my part to add extra fat after the drizzle of olive oil on my salad. The Paleo ‘sweet’ treats is another area I’m learning to control. After ditching the conventional sweet foods, a whole new area of ‘paleo’ raw food sweet treats opened up to me and started tantalising my taste buds!! I have to admit, I did go overboard for a while until I realised that they just fed my sweet cravings (I have a bit of a natural sweet tooth, anyway). Now, I’m realising that I can still have them but, as you say, they are still treats, and I’m learning when the best time to incorporate them into my diet is. If I do feel like something sweet, I find it’s best to have it after lunch as I’ve filled up with healthy fats and protein and the desire to overeat the ‘paleo’ sweet treat is reduced quite a lot, if not gone completely. Sometimes, I just don’t feel like one at all. However, if I have it on its own, then that’s when my sweet craving starts to raise its ugly head!

Thanks again for the article. Loved it!

Guy Lawrence says:

Thanks for sharing Maree, sounds like you are on the right track 🙂 Guy

Debbie Riley says:

A mistake I have made is eating too much double cream yogurt and/r drinking too many cappuccinos made with full fat cream milk. The carb content in these products is so much higher than double cream (2g per 250ml) or coconut milk (0g per 250ml). With full fat milk coming in at 11g per 250ml! This is almost half my daily carb allowance of 25g! No wonder my insulin roll has not shrunk …..yet :O)

Toni says:

To minimise the headaches and fogginess drink bone broth or use a bullion cube in 2 cups of boiling water. Drink daily when starting this way of eating, can also add cream to cup of stock just like a creamy soup. I am in my early 50shave been eating this way for 9 months thoroughly recommend it, never felt so good and never feel hungry.

Ally Redgwell says:

Thoroughly enjoyed reading the article and great points. The squirrel comment probably hit a little lightbulb in my head!!!

Guy Lawrence says:

Thanks Ally, glad you enjoyed 🙂 Guy

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