Embracing healthy eating habits and quitting bad ones is one of the most common New Year’s resolutions among people from all over the globe. Even though many men and women manage to make it happen, there are still many people who struggle with it. The reasons for that are multiple, but the majority of them simply don’t have enough time to pay extra attention to their diet. However, their busy schedules and full-time jobs are just an excuse. When there’s a will, there’s a way, which is why you should be very patient and persistent with this journey. After all, those bad habits didn’t happen overnight, right? Of course not, and this is why you should never give up. Here are eleven useful tips on how to break bad eating habits once for good. Just keep on reading, check them out, and get down to business right away!
Stop skipping your meals
Did you know that skipping your meals is one of the worst things you can do when you’re trying to stay healthy? That’s right, so bear it in mind and find ways to make your eating schedule work for you. Small adjustments can make all the difference in finding what works for you. If you can figure out where you are likely to go amiss, you can find solutions that will keep you on track. Work with your ways, not against them.
Many experts say that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but what this actually means is that the first meal of the day is the most important to be considerate of. Think of it this way… you have just fasted for 8 hours. Whatever you wake your digestive system up with should be as kind as possible to your tummy. It’s also where you will get your energy from. So, if you are a coffee (acid / caffeine) and orange juice (acidic / full of sugar) and a bite of toast person, this is a great place to start.
If you’re always in a rush and don’t have time for a healthy breakfast in the morning, you should start with a glass of lemon water, which helps set your system up for the rest of the day. Skip the sugar and caffeine… because… well obviously. Think you can’t live without the pick me up? Consider that you are going to crash hard in a few hours. Try switching out your coffee, even occasionally, for green tea, coffee alternatives like Bambu or Caf-Lib or dark roasted matcha. If you really can’t live without, drink the best quality you can.
Another option is to prepare a healthy breakfast meal in advance. Apart from saving a lot of time, such a meal will also keep you full and give you enough energy for the day. For example, overnight oats are a great way to go. These are extremely tasty and nutritious yet so easy to make. This type of breakfast will also be more than enough to keep you away from unhealthy snacks throughout the day!
Never go grocery shopping hungry
If you’ve ever gone grocery shopping hungry, you definitely know that this seemingly ordinary chore can become a bit ridiculous. Grabbing a few bags of your favorite potato chips suddenly seems like a very good idea. There’s nothing wrong with filling your shopping cart with Ben & Jerry’s most popular flavors, right? Especially when they are on even the teensiest sale? The same goes for all those frozen pizzas and other delicious goodies you’ve been craving for a long time. Well, those are the types of food you’re most likely to gravitate towards when you go grocery shopping hungry!
They are also the foods that you are most likely to prepare when you are busy or tired. These are generally the “toss in oven with zero prep”, high-calorie products rich in unhealthy fats that will undoubtedly be your first choice, which is exactly what you should avoid. Eating a nutritious meal or a high-protein snack before shopping is a great way to go. It’ll satisfy your needs and keep you full until you get home while preventing you from buying unhealthy snacks at the same time!
Photo by Allef Vinicius
Embrace mindful eating
A large number of people tend to eat just for the sake of eating these days. This kind of mindless eating can result in numerous health problems – including obesity – which is why it needs to be taken seriously. We as a culture tend to create “meal times” that fit into our schedules, rather than creating schedules around our health. Tossing dinner into that tiny space between after work and the work you do after work, not good. The idea of a “lunch hour” that we learn in school, often mostly taken up with things other than actually eating, leads to the idea that meals should just be “fit in”. Their importance has been all but erased.
Embracing mindful eating and everything that goes with it is essential. It will teach you the difference between true hunger and other triggers for eating that aren’t related to it. Mindful eating will also help you maintain a healthy weight, enhance your well-being, and teach you to appreciate your food and those you share it with.
Combine your food intake with your physical activity
Of course, combining your new eating habits with physical activity will inevitably bring the best results. If you want to improve your self-image, get rid of bad eating habits, and do something great for yourself – eat mindfully and work out regularly. There is something about our approach to food apres workout. We rarely reach for a soda, this is when water looks really good. You don’t often see athletes grab a donut after a run, your body is primed for heath and is more likely will choose real food. Also, remember that certain supplements created for this mindset will add to the benefit. A quality pre-workout blend will do wonders. It’ll boost your performance and energy levels, which is crucial for a good sweat session!
Don’t let anything distract you while eating
Yes, we know that eating your dinner while watching your favorite TV show is one of your guilty pleasures. It’s the case with thousands of people who love to unwind after a long day at work, but you know what? This is exactly when you’re most likely to eat more than you need to. You have two options here.
If you embrace mindful eating, as mentioned, you will develop a much healthier approach to food. You will learn the real joy of well prepared, healthy real food. Your relationship to what you eat will benefit the choices you make throughout the other periods during the day that you search for sustenance. You will start to think twice before going for the easiest or cheapest, and learn to make better quality choices. The “body as a temple” idea isn’t about arrogance, it’s about realizing that your body is an extraordinary machine worth taking optimum care of. You don’t put cheap gas in a luxury car, why would you treat your body with disrespect?
If you want to enjoy your meal to the max, make sure to turn off your TV and keep your laptop and smartphone out of sight. Instead, set the table, arrange your food beautifully on a plate, and enjoy your meal slowly and with purpose. Try to stay away from books and magazines as well, even though these seem quite harmless, and even a great idea. If it’s great reading you can eat more food than you actually need while engrossed in them!
Alternatively, while you shouldn’t let anything distract you while you’re eating, and you are having a night where you are going to catch up on your favourite Netflix series regardless of how well acquainted you have become with your spinach and broccoli, simply prepare a smaller portion. Be aware of how much you make so that you don’t have to worry about accidentally stuffing yourself.
Stop buying and storing unhealthy snacks
The next tip is very obvious and straightforward, since buying and storing unhealthy snacks is one of the most common paths towards establishing bad eating habits. Of course, the best place to start is your kitchen, so open your cupboards and check out what hides inside. Are there any snacks that are rich in empty calories and unhealthy fats? Sugary drinks and fatty sweet treats? If your answer is ‘yes’, it’s about time you made some important changes in your diet. Firstly, stop buying unhealthy snacks altogether, if possible. And don’t “buy them for the kids”… this is only teaching them the same bad habits.
If you still need those snacks occasionally, store them in the highest cabinet so that they can’t be reached easily and don’t look you right in the face each time you go looking for something to eat. When you really crave those chips, you will remember that they are there. Replace a cookie jar with a bowl of superfoods and sugary drinks with a gorgeous pitcher of cucumber lemon or berry infused water. Trust us, you will start to get snotty about what you put in your body, and that’s not a bad thing. Begin to see low quality foods the way you look at a knockoff handbag. Yeah sure, we know they are there, but when you have the option, which do you choose?
Stock your fridge with fresh fruits and vegetables and you’ll see a huge improvement every time you open it to look for a snack! This won’t be an overnight thing, but don’t give up. You will find yourself starting to make better choices if the opportunity to do so is there.
Photo by Thomas Kelley
Emotional eating should be stopped, too
Emotional eating is probably one of the biggest problems millions of men and women are dealing with daily. Even though many people link it to only ‘bad’ feelings such as sadness or anxiety, the truth is that emotional eating applies to any state and emotion. We tend to learn early on to use food for comfort – it’s the first thing we seek out when we experience both good and bad things in our lives. We associate food with nearly every celebration. We create entire story lines around certain foods and use it to reward others and ourselves.
If you’re finding yourself doing the same, this may be a sign that you’ve learned to be an emotional eater. Feeding your emotions is likely to take a toll on your weight and health – both physical and mental. So, use this to your benefit. Learn to reward yourself with the best options. Take yourself out for a meal at a gorgeous restaurant with great food. Spend time on your meal prep and realize that it’s part of self care. Try not to surround yourself with unhealthy, high-calorie food when you’re having a bad day. And yes, the same goes for some happy moments that instantly make you think about your favorite junk foods (birthday cake anyone?). We aren’t suggesting not doing the cake… we are suggesting getting a smaller cake that is from a bakery that uses organic ingredients. Learn to choose better quality, healthier alternatives instead and you’ll make great progress!
Keeping yourself occupied with a hobby will help you refrain from searching out food out of boredom. It’s actually remarkable how often we will walk to the fridge repeatedly hoping to find excitement there simply because we are uninterested in what we are doing. Having healthy hobbies keeps our brains in top condition and benefits us tenfold as we get older. And yes, if you spend time doing the things you love, being immersed in learning a new skill or even committing to crossing items off your to do list will keep you from heading to the kitchen to find something to occupy yourself.
Bear the food prep calories in mind as well
If you are somebody who needs to watch calorie intake or sugar consumption, there are tiny ways that food can sneak into your body without you knowing. Did you know that food prep calories should also play an important role in your daily calorie intake? Learning to spend more time preparing food for yourself and others can be extremely rewarding and even therapeutic. And we aren’t suggesting that you get caught up in the details to the point of frustration, but if you suddenly find yourself making the best cookies every night, even with organic dark chocolate from Belgium, you should be aware that food prep calorie intake is actually a thing.
That’s right, and this is particularly important if you tend to prepare meals and desserts regularly. Basically, food prep calories are the calories you intake while you’re preparing a certain dish or dessert. Licking the spoon from the peanut butter jar and tasting your signature dish while it’s cooking are just some of the ways to eat extra calories without being aware of it. Don’t let it turn you off of home cooking, this is a case where usually the benefits outweigh the guilty bits by a wide margin. But if calories are a concern, be aware. If you tend to over-taste food during prep, you can chew sugar-free gum to stay away from that.
Stop sneaking your food
Embracing good eating habits is millions of people’s top goal these days. It’s a struggle for many – especially for those who don’t have enough knowledge and willpower to make it happen. Often people often tend to practice healthy eating habits while their family and friends are around but will then sneak food when no one’s looking or around to judge. Once their spouse goes to bed, they will reach for unhealthy foods they wouldn’t eat when someone else is there.
The trick here is to keep yourself occupied AND hydrated. It sounds odd, but often when we are hungry, we are actually deydrated. Our body registers dehydration as hunger first, then thirst. Try developing the habit of drinking something when you start thinking “snack”. Even better, develop the habit of carrying a quality water bottle with you. If you are busy, dropping what you are doing to go in search of a snack can be avoided by having refreshing water at hand. This is a habit that is actually quite easy to pick up, because your brain registers it as making things easier, and the human brain always gravitates toward the easiest option. If you recognize yourself in this behavior, make sure to plan ahead and always have healthy snacks at your disposal. For example, fresh fruits, pre-cut vegetables, nuts, and whole-grain crackers will help. Make it easy to pick the healthy option.
Try not to fall for falsely advertised healthy foods
Even though a lot of companies are doing their best to switch from conventional food production to organic one, there are still brands that falsely advertise their foods as healthy. They use wording and packaging cues such as natural images, leaves, people smiling, a cow in a field of wildflowers etc to suggest a more natural and happy product when in fact they are not even close. Watch for words like “pure”, “natural”, “contains natural flavours” etc. Words that suggest health and organic ingredients, but don’t follow through.
Also be aware of healthIER versions of junk food. For example, there are cookies that are said to be made from non-GMO, all-natural organic ingredients. These may seem like a good choice, but these are highly likely to be high in artificially added sugar, empty calories, and unhealthy fats. The same goes for popular sugar-free soft drinks that have zero calories. These usually feature artificial sweeteners that are used to make these drinks sweeter without adding calories. Needless to say, the health effects of these sweeteners are quite controversial, which is why you should avoid them altogether. Apart from gaining weight, these are also likely to increase your risk of diabetes and cause tooth erosion. That’s the last thing you want in your life, isn’t it? A good rule of thumb? The more processed it is, the worse it is for you. Period.
Photo by Eiliv-Sonas Aceron
Don’t eat straight from the box
Yes, we know that eating straight from the box is extremely handy and practical. You won’t have any additional dishes to wash later on, but did you know that it can be detrimental to your waistline? That’s right, and it’s because portion control is much harder when you’re eating directly from the package. Besides that, the portion of food you’re eating often depends on what you’re eating from. When the physical stopping point is the bottom of the cookie box or the chips bag, it’s highly likely that you’ll eat the entire thing in one sitting. The same is true for any other food, so be sure to always serve it in a bowl or plate. If you tend to buy food in bulk, you can divide it into single-serving containers. Just check the nutrition label to see how much is a serving size and you won’t go wrong!
Drinking your calories is also a problem
Are you one of those people who love to start their day with a big cup of flavored latte? Of course, this type of drink is super tasty and energizing, but it also has very high-calorie content and will boost your sugar and fat intake. Be extremely careful with these drinks and opt for plain coffee instead. Apart from those flavored coffee drinks, you should pay extra attention to juices and sodas, as well. For example, a big soda you’ll drink at lunch and a glass of wine at dinner can hold more calories than some foods and are extremely high in sugar. Checking the nutrition facts for coffee drinks and swapping your soda for infused water at lunchtime will help break this bad habit. In fact, read the first section of this post again and just review that information.