Even Your Doctor Breaks These 15 Common Health Rules

Over the years, your doctor has probably given you more health advice than you asked for. That’s OK — it’s their job. The truth is, the suggestions they give are just that: suggestions. They’re not guaranteed to produce results, or fit into your lifestyle. In fact, your doctor might even give you advice they don’t follow themselves.

You might reconsider adopting these health “rules” once you realize even professionals don’t always take them seriously.

1. Saying ‘no’ to dessert

homemade chocolate cake

Everyone needs to indulge from time to time. | iStock.com/repinanatoly 

Your doctor might suggest laying off the desserts if you’ve put on a few pounds, but they might not turn down a slice of cake while dining out. Food, after all, is meant to be enjoyed — and just because you have one slice of cake tonight doesn’t mean you have to have one every night.

Next: Just because they recommended trying this doesn’t mean they ever would.

2. Following a ‘healthy’ diet

cobb salad

Salads for lunch every day aren’t always realistic. | Bonchan/iStock/Getty Images

No one eats healthy all the time — not even your doctor. They probably aren’t really into the trendy diet crazes you’re always reading about. The truth is, most doctors believe the healthiest “diets” include a reasonable balance of foods that offer massive health benefits — and a few that don’t.

Next: Feeling stressed? Your doctor may have recommended this.

3. Meditating to relieve stress

woman meditating on the beach

A true meditation practice takes a lot of work to maintain. | Kieferpix/iStock/Getty Images

Stress increases your risk of developing health issues like stroke and heart disease. Doctors often recommend simple relaxation techniques like meditation — and they might work for you. But they don’t work for everyone.

Next: Most doctors agree not to waste your money on these if you don’t have to.

4. Taking vitamins daily

pills and multivitamins

Some doctors don’t even believe in vitamins. | Valentina_G/iStock/Getty Images

Your doctor might recommend you take a daily vitamin supplement if you’re not getting enough nutrition from the food you’re eating. But it’s not necessary to take dietary supplements daily if you’re maintaining a nutritionally balanced diet like the one your doctor might follow.

Next: Is it really necessary to work out this much?

5. Exercising every day

elderly ladies workout

It’s easier said than done. | Horsche/iStock/Getty Images

Experts recommend engaging in moderate physical activity for at least 150 minutes every week. If you exercise in 30-minute increments, you technically only have to work out five days a week. Many doctors don’t subscribe to the belief that you have to work out every day to be healthy.

Next: It’s OK to break this drinking rule, sometimes.

6. Only drinking 1 glass of wine

red wine pouring in a restaurant

Sometimes a second glass is in order. | CarlosAndreSantos/iStock/Getty Images

Excessive alcohol intake increases your chances of getting cancer and other deadly diseases. That doesn’t mean you’re limited to one alcoholic beverage every time you sit down to indulge. Let’s be honest: Sometimes, you deserve more than one drink. Just don’t make it a habit.

Next: Your doctor might be guilty of this questionable online habit.

7. Trusting ‘Dr. Google’


This nasty habit is sometimes too accessible to avoid. | Ipopba/iStock/Getty Images

Yes — even your doctor sometimes types their symptoms into search engines. It’s quick, it’s easy, and it (hopefully) sets you on the right path to getting to a real doctor. What your physician doesn’t do is take medical advice from strangers. But they have the knowledge base not to have to. You (probably) don’t.

Next: They sometimes eat things they advise you not to.

8. Completely banning sugar

six chocolate and cream donuts

Those lunch room donuts are tempting to everyone. | iStock.com/Ozgur Coskun

The internet’s consensus on sugar right now seems to be “never again.” But even if your doctor tells you to watch what you’re eating, even they can’t resist the occasional sweet treat or microwave meal. Sugar is bad for you, but only if you eat it all day, every day.

Next: They’ll eat these questionable foods even though they know they shouldn’t.

9. Avoiding ‘addicting’ foods

Butter Popcorn

Some foods are too good to pass up. | iStock.com/itakdalee

Just like you, doctors are pretty aware that some of their snack food choices aren’t the best. They often choose to eat them anyway for the same reasons most of us do: These foods just taste good. However, they’re probably less likely to over-indulge on a regular basis.

Next: More isn’t always better.

10. Drinking 8 glasses of water every day

Drink cold water

This is a tall request. | Pinkomele/iStock/Getty Images

No doctor will deny the importance of hydration. But most will shoot down the myth that you need to drink eight glasses of water every day. Doing so won’t necessarily hurt you, but drinking more water than your body needs isn’t going to offer any magic health benefits.

Next: Some people need more of this than others.

11. Sleeping 8 hours at night

Senior woman sleeping on bed in bedroom at home

Not everyone can maintain that strict of a sleep schedule. | Wavebreakmedia/Getty Images

Doctors have a lot to do, and so do you. There are people who do need eight hours of sleep to feel refreshed and energized, but it’s not a requirement. Some people do just fine on five or six. What’s important is that you’re listening to your body, and not trying to survive while sleep-deprived.

Next: This rule often clashes with a doctor’s busy schedule.

12. Establishing a consistent bedtime

Alarm clock on laptop

A set bedtime is a healthy habit. | iStock.com/BrianAJackson

You’ve probably heard that going to bed at the same time every night helps you sleep better — and, for some people, it might. But most health advice doesn’t work for everyone — your doctor included. Unpredictable schedules can make it difficult to stay consistent. Just try to rest when you can.

Next: Starting your day off this way might not be necessary.

13. Always eating breakfast

oatmeal porridge with walnuts

Breakfast should never be skipped. | Mizina/iStock/Getty Images Plus

Is breakfast really the most important meal of the day? Not for everyone. If you don’t have time to eat breakfast first thing in the morning, or you just aren’t hungry yet, don’t bother. This and other food myths drive doctors and nutritionists crazy.

Next: Does anyone really have time for this?

14. Practicing ‘mindful eating’

elder person smiling

This method is easier said than done. | Robert Daly/Getty Images

The concept of mindful eating was originally developed to help patients exhibiting harmful eating behaviors develop healthier relationships with food. It’s not a bad suggestion, but your doctor might feel they have a good grasp on their feelings about cheeseburgers.

Next: Is this “health hack” really worth it?

15. Taking the stairs

woman running up on mountain stairs

This healthy habit takes some time to develop. | iStock.com/lzf

Simple “health hacks” like taking the stairs instead of the elevator often give patients motivation to make smarter choices in their everyday lives when they aren’t currently exercising or eating healthfully. Many doctors have their own workout routines, and don’t really need to do this — nor do they have time to.

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