Are you looking change your eating habits to live a healthier life? Or maybe you want to drop a few pounds. As a health coach, I know there are probably things you do each day that sabotage your goals.
Unhealthy eating is largely caused by bad eating habits. It is easy to operate on automatic when it comes to food. Eating a bag of potato chips or ice cream every once in a while will probably not cause you any harm. However, when these actions become repetitive, they develop into habits.
Here are 14 bad eating habits, I discovered through my own journey as well as working with clients.
1. Not Drinking Enough Water. Water is one of the most important things our body needs to survive! The human body is about 70% water! Since we are constantly eliminating water through sweat and other bodily functions, we need to make sure that we are replenishing it. I suggest people drink half of their weight in ounces of water per day (more if you work out) to burn fat (i.e. if you weigh 140 pounds, you’ll need to drink at least 70 ounces of water).
One of the misleading signs of thirst is actually hunger! If you make sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day, then you’ll probably feel less hungry. Drinking water also helps rid your body of toxins. Drinking soda pop and coffee deplete your body of water. You don’t need to stop drinking your morning coffee to break this habit, just supplement it with a glass of water. The easiest way to remember to drink water is to keep it with you. Take a reusable water bottle with you to work, school or wherever you go and drink regularly.
2. Skipping Breakfast. Breakfast really is the most important meal of the day, but many people still seem to make a habit out of skipping it. With so many other tasks competing for your attention in the mornings like getting the kids ready for school, etc., you may decide you don’t have time to eat. Or it might seem logical that skipping breakfast to save calories will help lose weight, it’s actually counterproductive!
Skipping meals, especially breakfast, drains your energy and your metabolism begins to slow causing you to burn less calories. Your body needs a steady stream of calories throughout the day to function at its best. Breakfast gives you that boost of energy you need to take on your day. Without this fuel, it’s more likely that you will snack throughout the day.
Also, people who eat breakfast tend to weigh less. So, if you are trying to lose weight, skipping breakfast is not a good idea. A bowl of oatmeal, fruit or a yogurt can get your day off to a good start.
3. Binging. Do you tend to skip meals then eat a lot in the next meal to compensate? Do you gorge yourself with junk food on weekends after eating restrictively all week? These are signs that you are a habitual binger. You might want to train yourself to eat several small meals in a day so you can avoid binging.
4. Emotional Eating. Emotional eating, or stress eating, is another common unhealthy habit. You have a bad day at the office. You had a fight with your significant other and you’re angry. Or the kids are misbehaving and your are frustrated. You are driven by these emotions and when you get home, you open the refrigerator. Perhaps you reach for something chocolatey when you’re stressed about a deadline at work. Or you indulge in with your favorite ice cream when you are feeling depressed.
This can be a particularly dangerous habit as it can lead to steady weight gain. Don’t hide behind food. Instead recognize your anger, sadness, or frustration, and do something productive instead.
5. Mindless Eating. You’re eating alone or maybe your don’t talk with family members, so you eat while watching TV, grab your smartphone and text, read a book or scan Facebook. By doing this, you are developing an unhealthy eating habit.
All of these distractions take your attention away from eating. You become unable to measure how much you eat. It’s harder for you to tune in to how full you are. As a result, it can lead you to eat more than you’re really hungry for, either now or later.
6. Keeping Tempting Foods Around. It’s hard to resist temptation when it’s staring you in the face. Research show that when office workers were given candies in clear dishes to place on their desks, they helped themselves to candy 71 percent more often than a similar group that was given the same candy in opaque dishes. Do yourself a favor and keep tempting foods out of your sight.
7. Eating Junk Food. You know junk food doesn’t help your waistline, but the effect may be worse than you think. Several animal studies have found that rat’s brains find high-fat, high-sugar foods to be addictive — much like cocaine or heroin.
8. Eating Straight Out of the Bag. If you’re noshing directly out of the package whether it’s cookies, chips, or ice cream, it’s easy to eat several servings without realizing it.
9. Endless Snacking. Do you snack around the clock? Many are guilty of this bad habit ~ adults and children alike. It’s actually best to eat either three square meals or 5-6 smaller meals per day.
10. Eating on the Run. If you’re like most of us, you live a busy life. There may not be enough time to prepare meals or sit down to eat. Eating in the car, going through a fast food drive-thru, snacking at your desk, drinking a high calorie latte may be part of your eating habits. The challenge with eating on the run is that you don’t have a chance to pay close attention to what you’re eating. You are likely to eat more and you would if you were sitting down to eat. You are also very likely consuming more fat and excessive calories without the necessary nutrition.
11. Eating Too Quickly. It takes your brain 15-20 minutes to get the signal that you are full. Gulping down your food doesn’t give your brain time to catch up with your stomach. If you think that eating is an Olympic sport and wolf your food down in 10 minutes or less, you could end up eating way more than you need.
12. Eating Packaged Food. The convenience of packaged and microwaveable meals can’t be denied! After a long day, cooking from scratch is probably far from your mind. Unfortunately these miracle meals are highly processed and often pack in extra unhealthy fats, sodium and sugar. This can lead to a sugar addition and weight gain.
13. Eating Large Portions. When you grab your favorite cheat food, do you really look at what constitutes a serving size? Suggested serving sizes are often much smaller than you would think. This means that the calories, fats and sugars will need to be doubled or tripled.
14. Nighttime Noshing. Eating late at night is a common bad eating habit. This may be due to boredom or being distracted by mindless activities. Having an occasional late night snack is fine. However, if you notice you can’t go to bed without having a treat, then you could be setting yourself up for weight gain.
Well there you have it, 14 bad eating habits. If you found that you have more than one of these bad eating habits don’t worry. Most of them are relatively simple to fix. It’s just a matter of awareness and knowing how to change.
Next week, I’ll tell you how to fix them so that you can reach your goals of living a happier, healthier life and maybe losing a pound or two!