Women's Common Health Mistakes

Eating a salad may be healthy, but experts say ignoring the extras some may add to the greens can be an unhealthy mistake.

Adding extras -- containing high calories and high saturated fat -- to a salad is one of several mistakes women could avoid when armed with a little health knowledge.

To help stop the pattern of unwise decisions women may make, the March issue of Prevention magazine lists six health mistakes, and how to solve them. Amy O'Connor, deputy editor of Prevention, visited The Early Show to talk about it.

The Six Mistakes Women Make

  • Always Order A Salad
    The salad, per se, isn't a bad idea. It is all the extras that come with the salad that you need to avoid. O'Conner says just because there's lettuce doesn't make it healthy. Nutritionists caution to be especially careful at fast food restaurants. A salad at a fast food restaurant may have more calories, fat and saturated fat than a McDonald's Big Mac. The solution? Avoid high-fat ingredients such as a taco salad without sour cream or fried shell. And, iceburg lettuce with a few carrot shavings does not have adequate fiber. If you're using dressing with fat, O'Conner says you're probably doing more harm than good.
  • Avoid The Scale
    The old thinking about the scale was: instead of weighing yourself, just pay attention to how your clothes fit. But now research shows you do need to pay attention to the scale. O'Connor says if you've packed on 15 or 20 pounds, and you don't notice it, it's very demoralizing when you finally realize how much you've gained. In national studies, those who watch the scale no more than once a week tend to be better long term than those who never watch the scale.
  • Forget To Floss
    O'Connor says 25 to 40 percent of women have gum disease -- more than men. Flossing is the best way to prevent gum disease. O'Connor says many women who want to have a beautiful smile are spending a lot of money on teeth bleaching, but what's really important is flossing. Gum disease has been associated with premature birth, heart disease and some kinds of cancer.
  • Afraid To Lift Weights
    Many women may think they're going to end up looking like Arnold Schwarzenegger if they lift weights, but that is not true. O'Connor says lifting weights is the best way to firm and tone you're upper body. It's also a great way to stave off osteoporosis. One out of 2 women will develop weak bones later in life. O'Connor says lifting weights is your first line of defense against that.
  • Ignore Aches And Pains
    Although women are the caretakers of most families, O'Connor says they're the last ones to take themselves to the doctor. They tend to ignore little aches and pains, which can sometimes be symptoms of something serious. Medical experts encourage women to be more proactive about their healthcare and treat themselves the way they would treat their children or their spouses.
  • Don't Get Eight Hours of Sleep
    O'Conner says it's a big mistake if you don't get enough sleep. Not getting enough sleep can lead to anxiety, it can lead to inflammation, which can lead to heart disease. And, it can actually make you gain weight. There's nothing you can take that replaces sleep. O'Connor says if weekends are the only time to make up for it, make up for it on the weekend. Prevention magazine also recommends women get help from other members of the family to get the sleep they need.