5 Ways to Break Bad Eating Habits
Now’s the time to eliminate habits that no longer serve you
Is it time for a food habit check? You just ate a bowl of chocolate ice cream late at night and now you’re mentally beating yourself up about it. Experts say lack of discipline may not be the only culprit, that bad eating habits may be what’s weighing you down. If you find yourself unexplainably repeating poor food decisions, it’s time to reevaluate your routines. Check out these five tips for taking back control of your eating and wellness.
1. Bad Habit: Making poor food choices
Solution: Change your view
People frequently people eat what’s right in front of them. Food sitting at eye level in the front of the refrigerator or pantry gets chosen more often than items in the back or stored in drawers. The same goes for food that’s sitting out on the counter—it’s the first to go. Use this knowledge to strategically position healthy food choices and minimize visual contact with treats and temptations. Keep a basket of fresh fruit on the counter. Also, store healthy diet options such as Greek yogurt, low-fat cottage cheese and ready-to-eat vegetables at eye-level in the refrigerator. And lastly, when it comes to trigger foods, embrace the idea of: out of sight, out of mind.
2. Bad Habit: Eating huge portions
Solution: Stay hydrated and plan your mealtimes
If you eat too much at one time, you risk storing many of those calories as fat. Overeating and eating large portions is often the result of being over-hungry, so avoid temptation with well-spaced meals and snacks. Other expert tips for losing weight by reducing your food intake at mealtime include using a smaller plate, chewing more and staying hydrated so you don’t mistake thirst for hunger.
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3. Bad Habit: Trying to quit temptations cold turkey
Solution: Reduce your dependence on trigger foods
Research shows that abstinence is rarely the solution for quitting tempting foods. Renouncing sugar completely for a month can lead to a binge in the near future. Instead, make small manageable reductions. If you’re currently drinking three regular sodas a day, reduce your intake to two sodas for a while, and reduce again when that becomes manageable. Weaning yourself from your trigger foods and temptations is more moderate and achievable.
4. Bad Habit: Relying on energy bars and shakes
Solution: Plan fresh meals and snacks
While packaged protein bars and shakes are convenient, consuming too many of them can stall or reverse your weight loss efforts. Many of today’s popular “healthy” bars and snacks have 300+ calories and are loaded with sodium and preservatives. If your lifestyle demands these quick meal replacements, look for options that are low in calories and sugar and contain as few ingredients as possible. Better yet, choose a fresh whole food snack such as a banana or handful of raw nuts. For a quick meal at work, look for packaged versions of soup and oatmeal that are healthy and easy. Plan ahead by putting snacks and on-the-go meals together for the whole week on Sunday.
5. Bad Habit: Beating yourself up about mistakes
Solution: Let go of perfectionism and stay positive
Don’t punish yourself when you feel you’ve made a mistake or are moving backward. Negative self-talk can undermine your confidence and your weight loss efforts. When you feel you’ve slipped up or failed, acknowledge that you tried and resolve to do better. Expect that you’ll make errors as you try to lose weight and give yourself permission to be human. Afterall, individual slip-ups can’t undermine your overall progress over time unless you let them—the key is to keep moving forward.
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