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Thursday, 18 June 2015 13:24

11 Tips To Breaking Bad Eating Habits

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We are creatures of habit. When we repeat mistakes, they get reinforced, becoming bad habits. Breaking bad eating habits isn't easy. By observing your eating habits and establishing reasonable goals, you can turn your unhealthy diet around. Remember that change doesn't happen overnight. Here are 11 tips to help you break bad eating habits.

1) Be consistent.

To build healthy eating habits, avoid roller coaster-type dieting. Don't starve yourself during the week and then indulge on the weekends. In 700 BC the Greek poet Hesiod wrote, "Observe due measure; moderation is best in all things."

2) Drink a glass of water before your meal.

Your stomach is a muscle that can stretch. If you eat a hearty meal followed by a glass of water, your stomach will expand, causing you to eat more at the next meal in order to feel satiated. So drink a large glass of water at the beginning of the meal. This will cause you to feel full sooner, before you pack in more calories.

3) Focus on health/nutrition.

Studies have shown that people who diet to improve their health are more successful at keeping the weight off. Examine your motivation. Are you dieting to be improve your health, or to look good, or (worse) in response to peer pressure? Proper diet is part of a healthy lifestyle.

4) Avoid late-night meals/snacks.

Late-night snacks are the bane of dieters. At night your metabolism is slow. Going to bed on a full stomach is comforting, but will eventually lead to overweight and obesity. After dinner, brush your teeth and remind yourself that "the kitchen is closed." If you must snack, make sure it's healthy food: carrot and celery sticks, a piece of fruit or other low-calorie item.

5) Avoid fast food/junk food.

High-calorie fast foods and sugary sodas are leading causes of obesity. Do you have trouble avoiding the fast-food drive-through on your way to/from work? Prepare healthy snacks to carry with you. Occasional meals out are okay but home-prepared foods are better and healthier.

6) Don't skip breakfast.

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. It gives you energy to meet the day. Skipping breakfast will lead to an energy crash before noon. And you'll be thinking about food all morning. So don't skimp on a healthy breakfast.

7) Get enough sleep.

New studies show that lack of sleep is associated with weight gain. The reasons are not yet clear, but we believe that lack of sleep causes fatigue, which causes you to compensate by eating high-energy, high calorie foods in order to maintain your metabolic equilibrium.

8) Stalk your bad eating habits.

We are creatures of habit. Bad habits, such as the choices you make at the grocery store, are reinforced through repetition. So stalk your bad eating habits like a hunter stalks his prey. When do you typically overeat? What are your triggers? Identifying your bad eating habits and your motivations (both physical and psychological) are the first steps to improving your diet and your health.

9) Serve healthy meals to your family.

When you're dieting, don't go it alone. It is very difficult and discouraging to try to maintain a diet separate from your family. You stare at your salad while everyone else eats fatty comfort food. It's a "recipe for disaster!" So incorporate your family in your healthy eating plan. Start slowly and find healthy, low-calorie foods that everyone in the family will enjoy.

10) Establish realistic goals.

Don't set yourself up for failure. It's better to lose a couple of pounds a month, than to lose a lot of weight quickly and then put it all back on. In order to create the healthy lifestyle you need, start slowly by building a routine you can stick to. It's okay to fall off the wagon occasionally, like family holiday get-togethers. Once you see that bad habits can be overcome, even on a small scale, you will increase your motivation. Positive reinforcement also helps. Reward yourself (with non-food items) for even small successes.

11) Don't give up!

Dieting is not a zero sum game like football, where one team wins and the other loses. The only way you can lose the diet game is by giving up and going back to your old indulgences. Everyone experiences setbacks when striving toward a goal. Stick with the plan, forgive yourself, and get back on the wagon. If your goals are realistic, it is easier to get back on track after a slip. Avoid discouragement.

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