You probably have a few bad eating habits that make it hard to stick to a healthy diet. Maybe it’s rushing out the door some mornings without breakfast, or munching on chips while watching TV. These small, but sneaky habits add up over time and can cause you to gain weight. The good news is that you can change these unhealthy habits and replace them with healthier ones.
Overcoming a bad habit begins with being aware of the problem. You can start by keeping a food and beverage diary for a few days. Then go back and review it. It may reveal your triggers or prompts for unhealthy eating, such as the vending machine at work or a craving after a stressful day. You also might discover that you tend to eat when you aren’t actually hungry or if you are tired, stressed out or bored.
Identifying your cues or triggers for eating can help you avoid them and keep you on track. For example, if you find yourself eating out of boredom, try to take a walk or talk to a friend rather than going for food. If you always reach for a bag of chips, try replacing them with hummus and veggies or fresh fruit. Lastly, if you are a stress eater, try to find an automatic response that doesn’t involve food such as chewing on a gum, chugging a glass of water or taking a quick walk around the block.
Once you know what your bad eating habits are, you can begin to address them. For instance, if you usually eat alone when you’re working, make a plan to sit down with a coworker for lunch one day each week. Or, if you often eat fast, try to slow down your meals and savor the flavors.
In addition, try to eliminate unhealthy snacks from your home or workplace. And, if you do need to buy some processed snacks at work, choose those that are lower in calories and sugar than the ones that are on the snack bar.
Finally, consider eating at a table instead of your desk or in front of the TV while you’re eating. Eating in front of a screen can cause you to overeat because you don’t realize how much you’re eating. Also, when you eat at your desk, you tend to eat faster and more than you should. This can lead to overeating and gaining weight. Instead, eat your meal in the break room or at a restaurant. You can also eat at your desk, but if you do, try to put the laptop away or turn off your phone. Then savor your food and stop eating when you’re full. This will allow your brain to catch up with your stomach. Eating slowly helps you feel full and eat less. This also helps with portion control.