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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- 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.
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