9 Habits You Think Are Healthy, But Aren’t

You diligently slather on the hand sanitizer, stock your fridge with low-fat foods and nab a couple extra hours of sleep on the weekends. But are these so-called healthy habits really good for you? Not always. We spotted an interesting conversation at Reddit about this and decided to set the record straight on exactly which “healthy” habits you may want to ditch. Hint: If you hate sit-ups as much as we do, you’re gonna love this.


Marketers may be clever at inspiring us to want a squeaky-clean vagina, but don’t waste your money. Douching is not only unnecessary (our vagina knows how to clean itself, thank you very much), but doing so can actually mess with the vagina’s delicate pH balance and leave your lady parts prone to dangerous bacterial infections.

2Hand sanitizer

We all know that washing our hands is a must before we eat and after a trip to the restroom, but skip the hand sanitizer and lather up with good old-fashioned soap instead. Not only does that antibacterial gel dry out your skin, it’s also not as effective as soap and water at protecting against a nasty norovirus (an ugly stomach bug). And diarrhea and vomiting can really put a cramp on those weekend plans.


Contrary to popular boot-camp belief, sit-ups are not the cure-all for muffin tops. In fact, research shows that these dreaded exercises can actually lead to spinal and lower back injuries. Did you know that each sit-up puts 730 pounds of pressure on your spine? Not only that, but sit-ups exert an unnecessary strain on the front abdominal muscles and aggravate the pelvic floor, which can lead to incontinence. Planks, anyone?

4Fruit juice

That label promising “real fruit juice” packed with extra vitamins may sound healthy, but juice is basically a stripped-down version of its origins. Meaning, the fiber from the skin is removed and you are left with mainly sugar. A typical eight-ounce serving of juice packs in 20 to 30 grams of sugar—the amount you’d find in a regular soda. Sure, it’s better to choose fruit juice over soda, but if you really want extra vitamins, grab an apple instead (the fiber it contains slows down sugar absorption) and wash it down with water.

5Catching up on sleep

Nabbing some extra shut-eye on the weekend may sound like a good idea, but it can backfire on you. Research shows that sleeping in on the weekend appears to mess with your circadian rhythm (your body’s internal clock), causing you to get to bed later come Sunday night and experience daytime sleepiness and fatigue Monday morning. Your best bet? Stick with a consistent bedtime and wake time seven days a week, and be sure you’re getting seven to eight hours of slumber each night.

6Low-Fat Foods

Just because that ice cream is labeled as “low-fat” doesn’t mean it’s low-calorie. And yet, for many a low-fat label is practically an invitation to overeat: Research shows that eating low-fat foods actually leads to consuming 25 to 44 percent more calories. What’s more, low-fat foods can contain more carbs and sugar than their regular versions. Our advice? When eating low-fat foods, check the label and reign in your portion. Or stick with a small serving of the full-fat treat you’re craving.

7Flavored Water

Swapping tap water for flavored waters may sound good, but along with that dose of vitamin B and C, you’re getting a hefty dose of sugar. In fact, some flavored waters have as much as 32 grams of this sweet stuff per serving (hello, unwanted calories). If it’s flavor you’re after in your H2O, add a squeeze of lemon or lime or toss in an orange slice. Bonus: You’ll get some of that vitamin C—without the excess sugar. Or, opt for the sugar-free version, which are often available.

8Fruit yogurt

Grabbing a cup of Greek yogurt in the morning seems like a smart move, but what’s actually in that so-called healthy fare? By itself, yogurt is good for you (as long as you don’t go overboard, which can lead to kidney stones). But chowing down on the fruity varieties can get tricky. Some brands load their fruit-ful options with tons of added sugar, which can total up to 250 calories and 47 grams of sugar in a single 8-ounce serving. Others, such as FageStonyfield and Yopa, manage to keep a container around 150 calories with under 20 grams of sugar. Be sure to check the ingredients list and nutrition facts to ensure your breakfast doesn’t look more like dessert, or stick to the plain variety and add your own fresh fruit and nuts.

9Skipping dessert

That’s right, passing on dessert is not always a healthy choice—namely, if it’s dark chocolate. This sweet treat can help lower your BMI and has been shown to reduce the chances a heart attack while lowering blood pressure and enhancing your mood. Plus, it can be a major beauty booster. That’s because the flavonols in dark chocolate can reduce stress hormones and protect your skin from ultraviolet damage, all of which can ward off those dreaded wrinkles. Just be sure to opt for dark (not milk) chocolate with at least 70 percent cacao—and limit yourself to about an ounce a day. Pass the chocolate, please!