If you've ever been in the health section of Barnes and Noble, you've probably noticed that a lot of nutritionists write books. And this isn't a coincidence. Most diet experts pen literary masterpieces because they know a ton about food and weight loss and want to educate the masses. Sure, helping clients one-on-one is rewarding, but there is so much misinformation out there about weight loss and nutrition that many experts feel adamant about spreading the truth to the masses by putting ink to paper.
But the reality is, not every brainiac nutritionist has a book deal and few dieters have the time to dig through countless pages about healthy living. And that's exactly why we asked some of the nation's top diet experts to tell us which bits of diet intel they wish they could share with the world. Read on to discover what they had to say, and when you're done skimming through their thoughts, learn even more about diet experts' eating habits and weight loss tips in our special report, The 15 Ways Nutritionists Have Changed Their Diets in the Past 5 Years.
Weight Loss is a Journey
"Most people live their lives trying to meet specific health goals and get down on themselves when they hit a roadblock or experience a setback, often throwing in the towel altogether. I wish everyone knew that achieving health and wellness is a journey, not a destination. Roadblocks and setbacks are part of the process and should be used as learning experiences, not excuses to give up." — Kara Lydon, RD, LDN, RYT, author of Nourish Your Namaste
All Sugars Aren't Created Equal
"All sugar isn't created equal. Sugar is sugar, yes, but some sugars are worse than others. Sugars you get from fruits are more natural and also come packed with important things like vitamins, minerals, and nutrients. Added sugars like high fructose corn syrup and table sugar are the ones to skip along with artificial sweeteners." — Isabel Smith, MS, RD, CDN, registered dietitian and founder of Isabel Smith Nutrition
To learn more about the difference between honey, monk fruit extract, Splenda, and other sources of the sweet stuff, don't miss our exclusive report, Every Popular Added Sweetener—Ranked!!
Gluten-Free Doesn't Equal Healthy
"I wish people knew that gluten-free foods aren't all automatically healthy. People often lose weight and feel better on a gluten-free diet, but it's usually not because of lack of gluten. It's because they're paying attention to their food choices and eating more real foods and less simple carbs. Gluten-free labeled packaged foods actually tend to have more calories and extra fat or sugar for added flavor." — Torey Armul, MS, RD, CSSD, LDN, spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
There Are No "Bad" Foods
"I wish people knew that there isn't one bad food or one bad nutrient. First, fat was blamed for our country's obesity epidemic, then it was carbs, now it's sugar. We need to shift our focus to eating real, whole foods like fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains—foods that have a ton of nutritional value and taste delicious—instead of fearing entire food groups and creating an unhealthy 'good' versus 'bad' relationship with food. All foods can fit into a healthy diet." — Kristen Carlucci Haase RD-N
You Can't Outrun a Bad Diet
"Many people think that they can eat whatever they want as long as they work out. But the truth is, if you are looking to lose or maintain your weight, what you put in your body is significantly more important than hitting the gym. Exercise is important to keep your body healthy, but just because you work out for an hour or more per day, it doesn't give you the liberty to eat whatever you want! — Ilyse Schapiro, MS, RDN, Co-Author of Should I Scoop out My Bagel
You Can't Be Addicted to Carbs
"A pet peeve of mine is hearing about how certain people are 'addicted to carbs.' I would love to scream across America that carbs are not in fact an addictive substance. By telling yourself that they are, you are not taking responsibility for yourself in terms of your food choices. You're also creating a story about food that is untrue." — Kristin Reisinger, MS, RD, CSSD and founder and owner of IronPlate Studios
Weight Loss Isn't Just About Calories
"Calorie counting is not the only game in town when it comes to weight loss. Chemical counting should also be part of our decision-making process. Processed foods, plastic bottles, lotions, non-organic dairy, and many other items in our daily lives contain endocrine disruptors that can lead to hormonal imbalance and stubborn weight gain." — Jennifer Cassetta, clinical nutritionist, personal trainer, and expert from ABC's "My Diet Is Better Than Yours"
You Should Do What Works For You
"I wish people knew that there is no one-size-fits-all diet that works for everyone. Individuals have different food preferences, dining habits, schedules, body types, past experiences, and obstacles. Stop falling for restrictive diet plans, America! Start by changing one simple habit and build from there." — Stephanie Brookshier, RDN, ACSM-CPT
Health Is About More Than Diet & Exercise
"I wish people understood that their relationships with food and their bodies are direct reflections of their relationships with themselves—and their entire lives. Creating a sustainable healthy lifestyle requires more than whole foods and exercise. You can eat all the kale in the world, but if you're hanging onto stress and anxiety in other parts of your life, your cravings and self-sabotage can return. Eat well and move your body, but don't forget to slow down, look within, clear your mind, and love yourself, too!" — Ashlee Davis, disordered eating coach, Kundalini Yoga and meditation teacher
Nutrition Panels Don't Tell the Whole Story
"The numbers on the nutrition panel aren't the most important part of a food product. You need to look at the ingredient list, too. If there are ingredients you cannot pronounce or if you see anything you think may not be a natural ingredient, put the product back on the shelf." — Isabel Smith, MS, RD, CDN, registered dietitian and founder of Isabel Smith Nutrition
Eat This! Tip
Hint: If you see anything that contains any of these 23 Worst Food Additives in America, consider it a Not That!
"Contrary to the idea that most of us grew up with, sleep is not a waste of time. In fact, it's a valuable use of your time and should be prioritized as part of your overall healthy lifestyle. Adequate amounts of quality sleep set the stage for good diet and exercise decisions during your waking hours. — Christine M. Palumbo, MBA, RDN, FAND
Eat This! Tip
To make the most of your time between the sheets, try incorporating some of these 30 Things to Do 30 Minutes Before Bed to Lose Weight into your nighttime routine.
You Don't Need to Obsess About Portion Sizes
"Too many people are still obsessing over portion sizes and calories, which is totally old school! Instead, trust your body to tell you when to eat and when to stop. Is that doughnut in the break room calling your name because you're actually hungry? Or are you using it to relieve boredom or stress? Think before you eat and stop before you feel full. Leaving food on your plate or saving it for later is not a crime!" — Stephanie Brookshier, RDN, ACSM-CPT
It's Okay to Treat Yourself
"It's okay to treat yourself every day as long as you keep it to a small sampling. The healthiest sweet options would be a bowl of fruit, frozen grapes, Greek yogurt with berries, or an apple with peanut butter. However, there are times when those types of things just won't cut it. On those nights, try to keep the treat to 150 calories, which is equivalent to two to three squares of dark chocolate, a couple of small cookies, or an individual chocolate pudding. You could also choose a few spoonfuls of ice cream or sorbet, a baked apple, a popsicle, or even a small brownie. Since you know you can treat yourself to another few bites tomorrow, sticking to a small serving should be doable." — Ilyse Schapiro, MS, RDN, Co-Author of Should I Scoop out My Bagel
Fad Diets Aren't The Answer
"Fad diets and meal replacement shakes are not the answer to sustainable weight loss or better health. Sure, you can do something drastic to lose 20 pounds in a month, but chances are these actions aren't sustainable. If you want to lose the weight and keep it off for good, target a weight loss of one to two pounds per week so you can truly see permanent, long-lasting results! Would you rather reach your goal weight and stay there for a month—or for the next 40 years?" — Kristen Carlucci Haase RD-N
RELATED: 50 Best Weight Loss Tips
Almond Milk Is a Dud
"While there are all sorts of reasons people choose the milk that they use in their daily cereal or coffee, I wish people knew that almond milk is no nutritional match to cow's milk. In addition to being a great source of calcium and potassium, a cup of cow's milk has eight grams of protein, which is about the same as a whole egg. Almond milk has only 1.5 grams of protein and can have added sugar when people buy the flavored or sweetened versions. Protein is important for making us feel full and energized longer, and that's key for being able to have a productive weekday morning." — Libby Mills, MS, RDN, LDN, Spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
To learn more about the different types of milk you see in the market, don't miss our report, The Best & Worst Milks & Mik Alternatives.
Meal Prep is Super Important
"Maintaining a healthy diet is easier when you plan. Taking some time to plan a menu for the week ahead and prep some food in advance so it's already in the fridge will save you time during the week and help ensure you get healthy, balanced meals on the table." — Jessica Fishman Levinson, MS, RDN, CDN, culinary nutrition expert and healthy lifestyle blogger
To discover the best time-saving healthy eating hacks, get to know these 25 Tips for Meal Prep Sunday.
Proper Hydration Is Everything
"Proper hydration is one of the most important things you can do for your brain, your waistline, and your energy levels. Our bodies are about 55 to 70 percent water and any reduced volume of water can affect our satiety. That means you may end up thinking you're hungry when you're actually thirsty. And remember: caffeine and alcohol can promote dehydration! — Isabel Smith, MS, RD, CDN, registered dietitian and founder of Isabel Smith Nutrition
Eat This! Tip
Hate how plain H20 tastes? Cut up some fruits and make a batch of delicious and hydrating detox water!
Slow and Steady Wins the Race
"People who wish to lose weight usually want to do so very quickly; as in, a few weeks. When I ask them how long it took them to put the weight on, they invariably state it took years and often decades. Just as excess weight tends to creep up, it is best taken off gradually. People who lose weight slowly are more apt to keep it off in the long run." — Christine M. Palumbo, MBA, RDN, FAND
De-Stressing Is a Must
"Stress can be a huge factor in an unhealthy lifestyle. It can cause people to overeat, undereat, skip meals, make poor food choices, and much more. Reduce stress by focusing on things that aren't food- or alcohol-related, like exercise. Also, remember to eat consistent meals and snacks so when you are stressed out, you aren't reaching for food as a source of comfort." — Sarah Koszyk, MA, RDN, founder of Family. Food. Fiesta.
Skipping Meals Doesn't Help
"When weight loss is the goal, skipping meals is never the answer. Eating every three to four hours is key because it keeps your energy levels stable. And for those who workout, eating every few hours also helps maintain lean body mass and ensures that adequate caloric and protein needs are met. Also, when one skips a meal, they're more likely to overeat at the next meal, making it difficult to meet health goals." — Yasi Ansari, MS, RD, CSSD
Eat This! Tip
Skipping meals is one of these 15 Worst Ways to Lose Weight! Click through to the article to discover what other strategies you should avoid if you want to whittle your middle.
Wine is Only Healthy in Moderation
"Yes, wine is good for you, but only in moderation. That's one 5-ounce glass of wine a day for women, two for men. Restaurants and bars commonly pour glasses that surpass that amount, so if you indulge in two or more glasses, you're likely going to drink more than half a bottle. Most people don't know—or don't want to know—that wine and other alcoholic drinks are associated with breast cancer incidence. But it's a truth that shouldn't be ignored." — Christine M. Palumbo, MBA, RDN, FAND
Carbohydrates Aren't All Bad
"I wish people knew that carbohydrates aren't bad. It's the type of carbs that count. Opt for complex carbohydrates with fiber like fruits, veggies and whole grains, and limit simple carbs like table sugar, baked goods, candy, and white grains and breads." — Torey Armul, MS, RD, CSSD, LDN, spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
RELATED: 50 Questions About Carbs—Answered!