5 Simple Fixes for Bad Eating Habits

Healthy eating can be difficult these days with all the junk food that is available and the bombardment of advertising that goes with it.  Unfortunately, the addictive nature of sugary, processed foods makes sticking to a healthy diet even harder and bad eating habits can lead to unwanted weight gain and possible health problems.

Having a plan to beat bad habits is the best way to overcome them and the first step is to identify and acknowledge the habits that you want to kick to the curb.  It’s also important to keep in mind that it takes time to break habits, and even more time to form new ones, so be patient and forgiving and remember why you want to break the habit in the first place.

Skipping Breakfast

Everybody knows that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but why?  After 8 hours of sleeping, your metabolism needs a kick start and your body needs an energy boost.  The best way to fuel up for the day is with a balanced breakfast, which will prevent overeating later in the day.

If you’re not willing to wake up earlier to give yourself more time to make breakfast in the morning, prepare something the night before, such as overnight oats and yoghurt with some fruit, or purchase some good-quality protein powder so you can prepare a quick and easy breakfast shake before you leave home for the day.

Emotional eating and rewarding yourself with food

During times of stress or sadness, many people look to food for comfort even though they are not hungry.  Eating that extra large slice of chocolate cake might create a sense of happiness now, but it will only lead to feelings of guilt and end up on the hips and thighs.  Find other ways to manage stress, like going for a walk, taking up a hobby or opening up to a loyal friend.  Don’t eat your emotions – let them out!

However, it’s not always negative emotions that lead to eating. Rewarding success or achievement with food is also a bad eating habit.  Instead of treating yourself with an extra serving at dinner or another Piña Colada, aim for non-edible enjoyment, such as a night at the cinema or those shoes you’ve had your eye on.

Massive portion sizes

Did you know that in the last 50 years, the size of the average dinner plate has increased in diameter by around 3 inches?  We are eating a lot more food than what is required and this is a major contributing factor to the obesity problem of the first world.

A bigger plate demands more food and causes us to eat more.  If your goal is to eat less, use smaller plates to reduce your portion sizes.

Mindless eating

Mindless eating can happen at any time – when you’re snacking, eating dinner or even munching on the go.  If you are not focused on your meal, then you are at risk of overeating.

Eating too quickly is an unhealthy habit because by the time your brain has registered that you’re full, you’ve already overeaten.  The TV is a huge distraction and eating meals on the couch can cause your brain to associate the Simpsons with food and trigger cravings.

A way to tackle both of these habits is to eat dinner at the dining table.  This will allow you to be more aware of what and how much you’re eating, and how satiated you are during and after the meal.  To slow down your eating pace, put your cutlery down after each mouthful and chew your food thoroughly.  These simple changes can lead to eating less food, which will in turn lead to a leaner waistline.

Raiding the fridge late at night

Late night snacking is the perfect way to exceed your calorie allowance for the day.  Just as your body is down gearing for sleep, you load it up with ice cream, pecan pie and leftover pizza.  Your sleep may be disrupted as your body digests the food and because you’re generally quite inactive during the night, the energy has nowhere else to go but into storage.

A great way to combat this habit is to brush your teeth after dinner – you’ll be less inclined to munch with a minty fresh mouth.  Also, try to keep yourself occupied with captivating activities so you don’t feel the need to visit the kitchen.  If you truly are hungry, stick to some nuts or a small portion of cheese.