There are some things that we do so often, over time, they become a habit. Nothing wrong with having habits but if they are bad eating habits, then they are causing harm to our bodies. We should definitely break them! The first step into correcting bad habits is to recognize them. Here are some bad eating habits and how to break them:
1. Not drinking enough water
60% of the human body is water. Water is crucial to our survival but we usually take it for granted. This is very common even with more fitness-minded people. It’s simply because we forget to drink water because we’re not thirsty. A very common mistake as well is replacing water with soda or juice. Not only are these drinks full of sugar and unwanted calories, but they are also not suitable substitutes for water!
When our bodies are dehydrated we feel slow and lethargic, we get headaches, dry skin, hair, and nails, we get muscle cramps, bad breath, and digestive issues. Did you know that most of the time that we feel hungry, we’re really just thirsty? Our bodies need 2 liters of water every day to function well so hydrate!
Bring a water bottle with you always so you remember that you need to drink. Even if you drink juice or soda from time to time, remember to still drink water right after. When you feel hungry a few minutes after having a meal or snack, drink up! This will even help you lose weight in the long run.
2. Mindless snacking
If you eat while doing activities like watching TV, reading your emails, sending texts, playing online games or while driving, chances are you’re eating a lot more than you’re supposed to. You’re distracted and can’t monitor how much you’re consuming. Next thing you know, you finished an entire bag of popcorn even before the movie starts.
If you must eat while doing something else, put the snack in a container, a plate, or bowl so you can still control your portions. Don’t eat straight out of the package or bag.
3. Abusing convenient foods
We are all busy with work, family life, or with our social lives. It’s understandable that sometimes we don’t have enough time to prepare home-cooked meals. It’s perfectly okay to eat ready-made fast food or microwave food from time to time, but it certainly is not okay if it’s all the time. Think of all the sodium, preservatives, and other additives on ready-made food. You don’t know what you’re putting in your mouth so it’s best to consume them at a minimum.
Set aside time to prepare your food for the week. If you know you will be busy during weekdays, allocate the weekends as a time for you to prepare your meals. Cook food in big batches and portion them out in small containers so you can keep them in your fridge and make them accessible when you’re on the go. If you have food always ready at home, then you won’t be tempted or you eliminate the need to go out and buy them.
4. Not eating a varied diet
We all have our favorites. But eating just 5 kinds of food all your life isn’t going to make you healthy. Sure, you can live on just pizza and pasta but it doesn’t leave room for you to consume other essential nutrients your body needs. Eating the same meals for weeks or months on end won’t allow you to get everything your body needs to function properly. This can lead to weight gain, diseases, and deficiencies.
Keep in mind that there are three essential food groups that should be present in your diet.
- Carbohydrates: Examples are fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and root crop.
- Protein: Examples are beans and legumes, tofu, or tempeh.
- Fat: Examples are nuts and seeds, coconut oil, and avocados.
Make sure that you’re eating every type of food under these three food groups. Consuming a variety of food is assurance that you’re giving your body everything it needs to get and stay healthy.
The best way to keep this in mind is by putting a variety of colors on your plate. Eat a rainbow! The color of food shows what kind of nutrients it has. For example, orange and yellow foods like mangoes and carrots are rich in vitamin A. Blue and purple food like berries and grapes are rich in flavonoids which are antioxidants. Green food like spinach and broccoli are rich in folate, potassium, and vitamins A, C, and E. Tan or brown food like whole grains are rich in fiber. You get the idea!
5. Food shopping when hungry
When you’re hungry, your mindfulness and judgment become impaired. If you’re not used to fasting, the deprivation of food will make you more prone to giving in to the tempting colors and packaging of unhealthy foods. There’s a higher chance that you will give in to that milk chocolate bar or buy the most convenient ready-made microwave mac and cheese. It will increase your chances of binge-eating too.
Of course, our busy lives won’t guarantee that you won’t go food shopping hungry ever. So it’s better to be prepared when you have to buy groceries when hungry. Make a list so you won’t stray and eat a small snack like a piece of fruit or nuts before you go, a protein smoothie or even just your regular protein drink is also a good idea.
6. Emotional eating
You’re heartbroken so you feel like the solution to that is finishing the whole tub of ice cream in one sitting as you cry your eyes out. You had a bad day in the office so you go home and open your fridge to look from something that you can eat so you can vent your feelings out. Or you might even turn to alcohol to try dull negative feelings. If you use food as a coping mechanism for the stresses of life, you’re harming yourself. You’re also making yourself a victim to food disorders or addiction.
If you’re feeling low or if you’re stressed out, it’s better to look for comfort elsewhere. Put on some music, take a walk, exercise, meditate, or talk to a friend that can be empathetic. It’s better to vent bad feelings out in ways that will do you good rather than harm.
7. Skipping meals
Unless you’re practicing intermittent fasting wherein your meals are timed with fasting and eating intervals, skipping meals throughout the day isn’t a good idea. An irregular eating pattern will make your body confused. You will run low on nutrients, your moods will be affected, you will get cravings, and hunger pangs will make you prone to binge-eating accessible fast food which is most often full of sugar and saturated fat. That certainly isn’t healthy for you.
If you’re overwhelmed with the morning rush, why not practice intermittent fasting instead? It’s perfect for those who don’t have time to prepare or eat breakfast. You can just have coffee or tea in the morning, then start eating right after lunch time.
You can fast for 18 hours and eat within 4-6 hours. Upon waking up, you would have already fasted for 8 hours. Add an additional 10 hours of fasting by skipping breakfast and lunch, then start eating again by early afternoon. You can continue eating for 4-6 hours until your next fast.
This may sound harmful but it’s actually not. This method helps accelerate fat burning by
boosting the metabolism and helps make the cell repair function of the body so much better.
8. Eating even if you’re already full
In a lot of cultures, it’s a bad thing to leave leftovers on your plate. We consider a clean plate as “good manners”. Some of us also eat past the point of fullness because we’re distracted or eat very fast, or because we get pressured by others. This habit certainly isn’t good and it just causes us to overeat, which leads to weight gain.
Take it easy with the portions. If one serving isn’t enough, you can always return for seconds. Don’t dump anything and everything on your plate all at once.
With mindful and intuitive eating, you’re supposed to eat more slowly and savor your food. Enjoy the fact that you’re eating to nourish your body, experience the flavors and texture of food. Drink water in between bites. When you feel satiated, stop. Your body is telling you that it already has what it needs to function. You don’t need to force yourself to eat that dessert after dinner just because dessert is supposed to be eaten after meals.