Eating is a necessary task that offers a multitude of health benefits. But bad eating habits can wreak havoc on your weight and overall health. The problem is that some bad habits are so sneaky, you may not even realize they’re hurting your diet. For example, dashing out the door some mornings without breakfast or munching on chips while watching TV can quickly add up to extra pounds and a lack of energy. Poor diet and eating habits can also increase the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease and tooth decay.
The good news is that you can change these habits by practicing mindfulness while you eat. “Slowing down your food and noticing how your body feels when you eat is a key component of healthy eating,” says psychologist and registered dietitian Danielle Heller, founder of Noom, a psychology-based behavioural change platform.
You’ll also want to identify the eating cues that trigger you to eat unhealthy foods, such as the vending machine in your workplace or the pile of doughnuts in your break room. Circle the eating cues you face regularly, and try to come up with a plan to avoid them.
Another way to help you improve your diet is to start a food diary. But don’t use it to track calories and carbohydrates; instead, focus on writing down the reasons why you ate certain things. This can help you pinpoint the root causes of your bad habits.
You might be an impulsive eater or someone who tends to eat in stressful or emotional conditions. Eating on impulse can lead to overeating, which in turn leads to excessive weight gain and increased risk of heart disease and diabetes. In addition, eating in emotional states can also lead to a poor diet.
People with this habit eat too much when they’re stressed or depressed, which can result in depression and fatigue. They’re also more likely to eat processed, high-sugar or high-fat foods. This can lead to weight gain and heart disease, as well as other mental health problems.
Another type of bad eating habit is gulping down your meals. This doesn’t give your brain a chance to signal fullness, which can result in overeating. According to a study by Cornell University food psychologist Brian Wansink, moviegoers who consumed popcorn out of large bowls or plates ate 45 percent more than those who snacked from small containers.
To fix this, eat from smaller plates and a bowl and eat in a quiet space where you can concentrate on the taste, texture, color and smell of your food. It’s also a good idea to stop eating while watching TV or reading, as these activities can distract you from feeling fully satisfied with your meal.