You’ve filled your kitchen with healthy foods and planned careful meals to lose weight. But your diet still isn’t working. Sound familiar?
Unfortunately, it may be more your pantry that needs an overhaul. You may also need to learn how to break bad eating habits to get real results.
Unhealthy eating is largely caused by bad eating habits. Eating a bag of potato chips while watching TV once in a while or binging on food during a party probably won’t cause you any harm.
However, when these actions become repetitive, they develop into habits that can be very bad for your health. If you wish to break your unhealthy eating habits, you need to recognize them first. And today, we will tell you what they are. From speed eating, skipping meals, sneaking food, late-night snacking to emotional eating, and more, watch till the end to learn about all of them.
1. Mindless Eating
Did you know that people watching TV eat 20-60 percent more than if they focused on their food in the first place? It happens. You get comfortable in front of the TV or settle down to read, and you just have that bowl or plate nearby.
Without a thought, you just reach over and keep snacking while you focus somewhere else. And by the end of the TV program, you’ve had more than your fill. Try to avoid eating with your concentration elsewhere or set out a small-portioned snack for this purpose.
It’s important to be aware of what you’re eating, to concentrate on the satisfaction of taste and how full you are.
If you don’t consider dinnertime over until your belly is practically bursting and it’s hard to stand, your idea of what it means to feel full probably means eating a lot more than your body actually needs.
Think of it as the difference between packing an overnight bag for the weekend versus stuffing a suitcase with outfits you won’t even wear. Despite what you may be used to, a meal can be over before you have that unbutton-the-pants urge.
Retrain your brain and body to feel satisfied with less by planning smaller meals. When you know you’re going to eat again in just a couple of hours, you’ll be far less inclined to gorge at a meal. Remember that the key is to never starve and never stuff.
3. Speed Eating
Wolfing down your food is a bad habit for a few reasons. First off, speed-eating can muck up your digestion.
Secondly, when you eat quickly, you effectively cut off the flow of appetite-monitoring hormones that tell your body whether you’re full or still hungry. Before you tuck into your next meal, take a few breaths and look at your food.
Take one reasonably-sized bite at a time, giving yourself time to chew and swallow it before aiming your fork for the next. Don’t be in such a rush, and you’ll be amazed by how satisfied you can feel. Even if you’ve eaten less than you normally would.
4. Clearing Your Plate
Perhaps it’s a side effect of speed-eating. Perhaps it’s that frugal “waste-not, want-not” mentality. Perhaps it’s “leftover” from childhood when a parent told you to clean your plate.
Whatever the reason, many of us hesitate to leave a meal unfinished. That wouldn’t be so bad if we didn’t suffer such portion distortion. First, recognize the distinction between a serving size, which is the amount being served, and portion size, which is the amount of food you allow yourself.
North Americans have been allowing themselves more and more food per portion lately. You can shrink your portions by using smaller plates and practicing portion control.
Next, dole out healthy and filling portions, fill half of your plate with vegetables and the other half with equal parts lean protein and whole grains.
5. Avoiding food the entire day
You may not eat for the whole day due to time constraints or lack of resources. This could lead to overindulging at night which slows down your metabolism. This results in you overeating right before you go to bed, leading to weight gain.
Try eating 5-6 small regular meals and snacks throughout the day, 2-3 hours apart. Foods such as fresh fruit, yogurt, lean nuts, and instant low GI meals are convenient foods that can be enjoyed on-the-run.
6. Poor choices when going out
Restaurant and fast foods are typically much higher in sodium and fat and much lower in vitamins and minerals. They are also served in much larger portions and are typically accompanied with drinks when compared to your average healthy home meal.
Try eating something small before you go out to a restaurant to prevent you from overindulging. Look for healthier options on the menu. Choose vegetable or salad side dishes instead of chips, vegetable based sauces instead of creamy options.
Avoid all you can eat and super-sized options too. You can allow yourself dessert occasionally but choose fruit-based treats.
7. Sneaking Food
Many times we practice good eating habits when others are around. For example, you might eat well during the day when your spouse is nearby. But when they go to bed, you find yourself nibbling on foods that you typically would avoid.
In fact, one study found a link between eating alone and your risk of metabolic syndrome. You may want to investigate why you feel the need to break away from healthy habits when you’re alone.
You may feel free to do what you want when no one is looking. If that sounds familiar, your food plan may be too restrictive, and you may need to make some adjustments.
8. Keeping Tempting Foods Around
It’s hard to resist temptation when it’s staring you in the face. You’re much more likely to grab cookies, candy or ice cream if it’s always in your house.
Do yourself a favor and keep tempting foods out of your sight. If you’re going to keep irresistible snacks at home, stash them inside a cupboard or maybe on a top-shelf.
Keep your fruit displayed proudly out on the counter and pre-chop veggies so they’re ready for snacking.
9. Endless Snacking
Here’s a bad habit many are guilty of: snacking round-the-clock, often on high-calorie foods that are full of empty carbs. A recent study found that it isn’t just a problem for adults.
Kids are snacking more and more often on unhealthy junk food including salty chips, soda, and candy. Keep only healthy snacks within reach, such as hummus, carrots and cucumber slices, air-popped popcorn, yogurt, and almonds.
Don’t stock your desk or pantry with potato chips or cookies you know you can’t resist.
10. Late Night Snacking
If you can make wise eating decisions all day, but then the sun goes down and it all goes to hell, you may be training your body to get hungry at night. For example, a packed schedule may have you eating less than you need during the day, and meals on-the-go can become a way of life.
Once you slow down in the evening, that feeling of hunger is suddenly loud and clear. Focusing on getting your three meals in at reasonable times, and carrying snacks so you’re eating every three hours can help prevent hunger from flaring at night.
If you’re good about eating during the day, late-night cravings can also mean you’re thirsty or tired. And the latter can have you making poor eating decisions. While late-night snacking is unhealthy, sometimes it’s impossible to avoid. At times like these, you can turn to healthy snacks…
11. Emotional Eating
You had a bad day at the office, and when you get home, you open the refrigerator and eat. That is not a good diet strategy when you put food in your mouth as a coping mechanism.
A number of studies confirm that emotions, both positive and negative, can cause people to eat more than they should, an easy weight-loss stumbling block. Find a new stress-buster. If you’re stressed out at work, when you get home, take a walk instead of eating or call a friend who will be empathetic.
You can vent and take some of the stress off your shoulders. Choose any activity you like as long as it keeps you out of the kitchen.
12. Feeling Guilty After Eating Bad Food
Feeling guilt while eating or shortly after is an example of food having control over you, instead of you being in control of your food choices. This isn’t necessarily your fault, though.
Many nutrient-poor foods are manufactured to be hyper-palatable. They are loaded with salt, sugar, and processed fats and oils which makes them delicious and addictive. It’s more than okay to enjoy these foods but then telling yourself you can’t have them could result in a restrict-binge cycle.
It’s important to acknowledge the extra stress you put on your body by torturing yourself with these guilty feelings. You’re much better off consciously making the decision to eat these foods, enjoying them, and then moving on with your day.
Once the stigma of those foods being naughty or bad is removed and you move on, it doesn’t quite have the same hold over you. While avoiding these eating habits is a good way to remain healthy, you have to pair it with eating the right types of food.