Do you have a healthy relationship with food? Do you know the difference between good and bad food habits?

We all know there are adverse consequences to unhealthy eating habits, whether it’s excess weight gain or weight loss, increased risk of heart disease/stroke or developing an eating disorder such as anorexia/bulimia. For multitudes of people, it seems a constant battle to develop a healthy relationship with food.

Fortunately, this article will highlight some of the top good and bad food habits and teach you the importance of healthy food habits. For those of you who are seeking ways to stop emotional eating and binge eating junk food or any other bad food habits, read on to learn how you can be liberated from the captive hold of unhealthy food and break bad food habits today!

Potatoes, chips, crisps, processed food, traffic light food

Unhealthy eating habits

1. Emotional eating: Also known as comfort eating, this is where we eat for reasons other than hunger. Whether it’s in response to a stressful day at work, boredom or as a reward, we’re all guilty of eating our feelings away every now and again. As a result, we often end up eating more than we need to in an attempt to comfort ourselves.

2. Mindless eating: In a world where we eat our foods on the go, or in front of a screen, be it your laptop, phone or TV, there’s no denying that we are neglecting to give the correct attention to our food. Mindless eating often manifests itself in certain scenarios, such as picking at that large popcorn you bought in the cinema, eating fistfuls of crisps from the share size packet at home or nibbling on bar food on a night out.

Pringles, crisps, snacks, share food

3. Eating too fast: Scoffing food down is a common bad food habit exercised by many people, whether you’re in a rush for a meeting, eating on the go or simply not taking adequate time to properly chew your food. Research has demonstrated correlations between eating fast and obesity along with the potential future onset of metabolic syndrome (a cluster of conditions that can occur together and manifest in the development of diabetes, heart disease and stroke). Separate studies have concluded that people who eat till full and eat fast were 3 times more likely to be overweight, compared to people who ate slowly.

4. Constant snacking: Let’s face it, if it’s there, you’ll probably eat it. Common food culprits include share packs of sweets, boxes of biscuits and party foods to nibble on. Often people won’t stop snacking until they’ve completely demolished the food. What’s worth noting is that it doesn’t matter if you eat a couple of sweets now and a couple of sweets later or if you eat all the sweets in one sitting, it will still equate to the same amount of calories at the end of the day.

Chocolate tray, heart chocolates, binge eating, snacking

5. Not eating a balanced diet: The effect of eating junk food and a diet rich in processed food, saturated fat, salt and sugar is increasingly prevalent. Failure to achieve a balanced diet can lead to numerous diseases, such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer and obesity. Not to mention the mounting evidence supporting links between poor nutrition and mental health issues.

Traffic light, red amber green food, healthy and unhealthy eating habits

Healthy eating habits

1. Getting adequate quality sleep: Observational studies have suggested a link between inadequate sleep and incremental consumption of calorie-dense foods, ultimately leading to weight gain. It could be attributed to the hunger-regulating hormones, ghrelin and leptin, being affected by inadequate sleep. Inadequate sleep encourages poor decision-making and comfort eating, meaning that people reach for a bag of crisps or whatever their comfort food of choice is.

For someone achieving 7.5 hours sleep a night, an extra 30-60 minutes sleep isn’t likely to aid weight loss. However, in a study of males and females in Tokyo who increased their sleep from 4-5 hours a night to 7 hours, positive results in terms of weight loss were observed. Additionally, when we are sleeping, we’re not eating (unless some of you have a nocturnal sleep-related eating disorder). In contrast, lack of sleep means being awake more hours during the day, and as such, the feeding window of opportunity extends.

2. Eating adequate quantity and quality food: It can be difficult to gauge how much food you should be eating, especially when foods that seem healthy are in fact laced with hidden calories due to the way they are manufactured/cooked. Evidence has demonstrated that consumption of surplus calories shortens the lifespan of people. Various formulas and calculators now exist which allow you to enumerate the amount of macronutrients and calories required for weight loss, maintenance or lean gains. Risks associated with under-eating include tiredness, malnutrition, weakened immune system, increase risk of bone fractures, constipation and depression.

Additionally, with people adopting flexible food plans such as IIFYM (if it fits your macros), it can be tempting to modify your food consumption to facilitate junk food while still abiding by your target protein, fats and carbohydrates. By following a healthy food plan and including pre-planned comfort foods can help you stop craving unhealthy food and achieve a balance between eating nutritious foods and foods for the soul.

3. Consume more natural unprocessed food: It’s hypothesised that eating processed food may kill more people prematurely than cigarettes will. Research also suggests that the effects of processed food on health can include an increased risk of developing a stroke by 7-fold! Due to the excessive presence of sugar, salt and fat in processed foods, they are considered highly addictive foods. Increasing consumption of natural foods can help you stop craving unhealthy food.

Strawberry bowl, unprocessed food, strawberries, fruit bowl

4. Quit following fad diets: Fad diets have a history of exploding onto the weight loss market and endorse unrealistic weight loss goals in short periods of time. Some of the most bizarre and unhealthiest diets included:

  • Baby food diet: substitute 2-3 proper meals for baby food a day
  • Cigarette diet: light up instead of eating up.
  • Chewing diet: chew your food until it is essentially pureed, then spit out the remaining food

Common examples of current diets (which are probably on the healthier side) include the Atkins diet, 5:2, keto and paleo diets. There are some unhealthy diets that work. After all, any programme that achieves a calorie deficit is likely to achieve weight reduction, however, whether that method is healthy or even sustainable is to be questioned. Not only are such diets often unhealthy, they can also lead to malnutrition, development of eating disorders and preoccupation with food.

5. Get adequate hydration: Not only is adequate hydration fundamental to general health and well-being, it also plays a key role in regulating food cravings, aids weight loss, helps boost energy levels and helps improve our mood. For athletes, adequate hydration can prevent performance decline, fatigue and heat stress associated with dehydration.

Hydration, water, water bottle

Healthy eating tips

  • Fortunately, there’s an almost bulletproof technique to break the unhealthy food habits listed above, take a moment to read ways to stop emotional eating – could mindful eating revolutionise your life? There’s also a fun exercise in it for you!
  • If you are someone prone to snacking, then try adopting measures such as removing unhealthy snacks from your home or work and replacing snacks with healthier alternatives, such as fruit, popcorn and nuts.
  • Research shows that people on average consume 92% of the food served to them. Avoid overeating and mindless eating by serving the correct portions in a smaller plate or taller glass. If you’re looking for some kitchen gadgets and aids to help you achieve correct portion sizes, check out food portion control for weight loss and bulking – tips & gadgets which also has details on this almost cheat-proof healthy portion plate. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.
  • Chewing your food up to 20 times has evidenced a positive decline (as much as a 10% reduction) in calories eaten. In one study on females provided with a large plate of pasta, participants who chewed their food 20 times consumed 579 calories compared with people who chewed fast who consumed 649 calories.
  • Consume adequate amounts of protein, healthy fats and complex carbohydrates and opt for unprocessed options where possible. Seek the advice of a dietitian or medical professional if you need assistance structuring your diet and developing a healthy relationship with food.
  • Having daily hydration targets is a great way to keep track and ensure you are consuming enough liquid throughout the day. Also, consider prioritising healthy liquid sources to achieve adequate hydration, e.g. opting for water as opposed to fizzy drinks. This article offers information on adequate hydration and also debunks some common myths surrounding various beverages: Importance of hydration: how much water should I drink?
  • Avoid binge eating junk food by following these cheat meals – 5 golden rules.

Summary

  • The consequences of unhealthy eating habits can be minimised by giving adequate time and thought to your food
  • Hydration is key to develop a healthy relationship with food
  • Good healthy eating habits also includes adopting good sleep hygiene practices
  • Eating a balanced diet in the correct quantities can reduce the risk of developing life-changing diseases

What’s the most bizarre fad diet you’ve tried or heard of? Do you follow any of the above good or bad food habits? Comment down below with your thoughts/opinions.

Sources

EverydayHealth.com. 2020. 9 Bad Eating Habits And How To Break Them | Everyday Health. [online] Available at: https://www.everydayhealth.com/diet-and-nutrition-pictures/bad-eating-habits-and-how-to-break-them.aspx [Accessed 29 March 2020].

Fuhrman, J., 2018. The Hidden Dangers of Fast and Processed Food. American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine, 12(5), pp.375-381.

Geliebter, A. and Aversa, A., 2003. Emotional eating in overweight, normal weight, and underweight individuals. Eating Behaviors, 3(4), pp.341-347.

Mann, D., 2013. Is Lack Of Sleep Causing You To Gain Weight?. [online] WebMD. Available at: https://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/features/lack-of-sleep-weight-gain#1 [Accessed 29 March 2020].

Maruyama, K., et al., 2008. The joint impact on being overweight of self reported behaviours of eating quickly and eating until full : cross sectional survey. BMJ, 337(oct21 2), pp.a2002-a2002.

Orenstein, B., 2011. 11 Crazy Diet Fads – Diet And Nutrition Center – Everyday Health. [online] EverydayHealth.com. Available at: https://www.everydayhealth.com/diet-and-nutrition-pictures/crazy-diet-fads.aspx [Accessed 29 March 2020].

Sampson, S., 2019. 9 Signs And Symptoms You’re Not Eating Enough. [online] Medicalnewstoday.com. Available at: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/322157 [Accessed 29 March 2020].

Spritzler, F., 2017. 8 Fad Diets That Actually Work. [online] Healthline. Available at: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/8-fad-diets-that-work#section4 [Accessed 29 March 2020].

Yamaji, T., Mikami, S., Kobatake, H., Kobayashi, K., Tanaka, H. and Tanaka, K., 2018. DOES EATING FAST CAUSE OBESITY AND METABOLIC SYNDROME?. Journal of the American College of Cardiology, 71(11), p.A1846.

Categories: Blogs

20 Comments

Haley · 30/03/2020 at 7:52 PM

Yes! I’m so happy to finally find a post about healthy eating and NOT following fad diets. My sister-in-law constantly goes on and off diets and always ends up disappointed and feeling defeated. None of the diets she does are things she can keep up over long periods of time, and I have tried and tried to tell her to make smaller changes. Drinking more water, eating less processed food and sugar, and many of the points you made will help her so much more in the long run. Thanks!

    Sharon · 30/03/2020 at 8:21 PM

    Hello,

    Delighted the post could be of help! I have heard that story far too many times, and don’t get me started on people going on detox diets! That’s solid advice you’ve offered her, perhaps the mindful eating might be of value to her? Fingers crossed anyway!

    Sharon

Chris · 30/03/2020 at 7:59 PM

Thanks for the tips! Mindless eating is one that I have to watch, especially given the current times when there is not much else to do. I’ve heard that you should never eat or snack with a screen (TV, phone, etc) because it almost always turns into mindless snacking even when you’re not really hungry. Thanks again for the great tips!

    Sharon · 30/03/2020 at 8:22 PM

    Hello,

    I completely relate with that, it’s so easy to just start flicking through your phone or watch TV instead of giving your meal the correct attention.

    Glad it could be of assistance!

    Sharon

Justin · 31/03/2020 at 11:12 PM

Great tips on healthy eating! I have been trying several things to lose some weight without going on a fad diet.
I have had success by closely watching the amount of food I eat, eat until I am content and not until I am feeling full.
The quality of the food eaten plays a large role as well, processed foods and drinks along with snacks are not going to be helpful.
I have learned to drink more water, and especially when the urge to snack hits, drink a glass or two of water.
You have written about several tips I already use! I encourage others to follow your advice because it works!!

    Sharon · 01/04/2020 at 7:28 PM

    Hi Justin,

    That’s certainly a solid technique to follow, I bet that takes lots of self-discipline. Yes absolutely, often people suggest distracting yourself with something for 20 minutes or having a coffee and if you’re still feeling the urge to eat, then do.

    Keep up the good work!
    Sharon

Willow · 01/04/2020 at 12:51 AM

One of the best tips for me, although not so easy, is to not buy unhealthy food. If I don’t have it in the house, I won’t eat it. The best thing I can do to not purchase the unhealthy food in the first place is to not go to the store hungry.

I also try to stick with organic food whenever I can. I’m a picky eater, and not really into specific diets, but I went on an all organic diet last year to clean out my system, and I lost 5 pounds over a two-week period. The only thing that stops me from staying on an all-organic diet is the that everything organic is so much more expensive.

The suggestion to drink more water is always a good idea. Most of us could benefit from drinking more.

    Sharon · 01/04/2020 at 7:38 PM

    Hello,

    I completely agree, also that voice in your head tempting you to buy something and then lying to yourself saying you won’t eat the whole pack – it’s a viscous circle. An organic diet is really admirable/desirable; I’ve considered the idea of sowing my own vegetable or berries, but there’s a bit of maintenance in that.

    That is true, I’ve an article on hydration that you may find valuable https://foodsandfit.com/importance-of-hydration-how-much-water-should-i-drink/

    Best wishes,
    Sharon

John · 01/04/2020 at 1:53 AM

I think that I am guilty of all of the bad eating habits. Especially when I am watching something on Netflix at the end of a long day. And even when I am doing things on my laptop. Guilty as charged. Your article reminded me of the importance of eating real, healthy food. I appreciate that.

Thanks!

    Sharon · 01/04/2020 at 7:43 PM

    Hi John,

    Yes, I think we all are, especially when we’re not paying attention or if we’re eating from a share pack as opposed to a single pack of crisps etc. I’m sure if you follow the tips in the article, you can conquer those habits!

    Let me know if you need any help!

    Best wishes,
    Sharon

Johan · 01/04/2020 at 3:01 AM

I definitely have been guilty of some of those bad eating habits.

I previously drove around a lot for work commitments, I would buy a packet of candy with good intentions of making it last, but ‘mindless eating’ came into play and they were gone before I knew it.

Another bad habit of mine was ‘emotional eating’ when I was bored, I could even feel full and still eat for something to do.

Now I am glad to say that I am able to limit both of these habits, I’m still a work in progress, and always on the lookout for more insights into healthy eating.

    Sharon · 01/04/2020 at 7:48 PM

    Hi John,

    I’d like to say that I have the willpower to stop snacking on sweets, like you say – snacks you buy for the car. But unfortunately I don’t, and I end up having to throw them in the back seat out of reach! I’m delighted to hear that, I’m sure you don’t have to feel guilt as a result and probably feel better overall!

    Thanks for sharing,
    Sharon

Rob · 01/04/2020 at 3:31 AM

Hi Sharon. Of the top 5 unhealthy eating habits, I’m only guilty of the first 5. Ugh!!!! I go in spurts of eating healthy for a few months then falling off completely. But I know my problem and wonder if you have any suggestions. It’s just plain simpler and a lot cheaper to eat junk food. I wish there was a way to make healthy eating the easiest choice. I guess it comes from education and change of mindset. Thanks for getting me thinking … again!

    Sharon · 01/04/2020 at 7:55 PM

    Hi Rob,

    That’s unfortunate! I hope you’re also guilty of some of the healthy ones though! I couldn’t recommend the mindful eating approach enough, along with only buying healthy foods and having the odd treat, whether you enjoy having a chocolate bar every day or a takeaway every week. Just something to keep the motivation levels up! If you follow the tips in the article, you’re bound to see an improvement.

    Hope this helps,
    Sharon

Brian · 01/04/2020 at 5:39 AM

Hi Sharon, great article and exactly what I needed to think about. I am totally guilty of the first 4 of 5 Unhealthy eating habits. I was amazed to learn that sleep affects weight loss. It makes sense though. As I am getting older I am trying to be more aware of my eating habits. It’s tough but I have to do it. Thankfully, I rarely ever eat out. I will be following to learn more in the future!

    Sharon · 01/04/2020 at 8:00 PM

    Hi Brian,

    I’m sure you’re not alone there, I hope you’re guilty of at least some of the top 5 good habits too! It sure does make sense, and I bet if you track your sleep and compare it with your eating habits, you might notice a correlation between poor eating and poor sleep.

    Great to hear, best of luck with that. You know where I am if you need some help!

    Sharon

Maite · 01/04/2020 at 7:17 AM

Hello Sharon and everyone,
Thank you for sharing your healthy and unhealthy eating tips. I know that eating disorders can also be a big issue not just for the person suffering but also for the rest of the family as it is forcing us to accept many unhealthy behaviors.
That is why we all need to be more conscious about learning and practicing Mindfully eating habits at home and outside.
Meanwhile, let’s all be home safe and be mindful of everything to better manage our health through this virus’s difficulties. Maite

    Sharon · 01/04/2020 at 8:07 PM

    Hi Maite,

    That is so true, unfortunately it’s only getting worse, so I hope such articles such as this help educate people on how they can address such issues. That’s it, I’ms sure people are stress eating as a result of the turbulent environment we’re currently encountering!

    Sharon

Vinayak · 19/04/2020 at 4:26 PM

This is something I can totally relate with. At some point of time I have indulged myself in almost all of these habits. Whether its Emotional eating, fast eating, continuous snacking and what not.

Good thing is that I came back on track sooner than later. Your suggestions are spot on. We should definitely follow these habits especially chewing 20 times. It makes a huge difference on our digestion.
Looking forward to read more such informative content.

Thanks!

    Sharon · 20/04/2020 at 5:39 PM

    Hi Vinayak,

    I can completely empathise with you on that, it’s such a viscous circle, especially if you overeat, start feeling guilt as a result, try to compensate by cutting calories and then the cycle repeats again!

    I’m glad you’re stint off the bandwagon didn’t last too long, it can be such a frustrating experience! Hopefully these tips will aid you towards a more mindful approach to eating!

    Sharon

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