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08 December 2023

The seven sins of bad eating habits


By Carole Holditch

In a world of high-speed internet, automated tellers, fast cars, and fast food, taking the time to maintain healthy eating habits may seem as daunting as finding a VHS movie at the video store.

Eating, an activity that was once a main priority, has become something that we either have to fit into our day, or something we do thoughtlessly and carelessly. Many of the bad eating habits you think will help you shed pounds may actually lead to weight gain. Luckily, funnelling unhealthy eating habits out of your life is easier and takes less time than you think. Stay away from these bad eating habits to get on the fast track to a healthier life, leaner body, and more satisfying eating experience:

1. Skipping breakfast

Why is it bad? As far as ideas go, skipping breakfast is a pretty bad one. Not only does starting the day with a healthy breakfast give you a boost of energy and help clear the fog from your brain, it helps you make healthy eating choices throughout the entire day, as you have already primed your good eating habits first thing in the morning.

Eating breakfast may help you to eat fewer calories later in the day. A given number of calories consumed earlier in the day is more filling than the same number of calories eaten later on, lessening overall calorie consumption.

What to do: You're less likely to make bad eating choices at lunch if you eat properly in the morning, so start the day off with a breakfast of champions. Try a bowl of oatmeal and cup of low fat yogurt, or a poached egg with whole grain toast and fresh fruit.

2. Eating before bed

Why is it bad?
If you're seeking sweet dreams, avoid eating before bedtime. While no conclusive studies prove that eating before bed leads to weight gain, eating too much food, or eating spicy, fatty foods and caffeine one to three hours before bedtime can reduce the quality and length of sleep, making you sluggish and generally not fun to be around the next day.

What to do: If you just can't say no to the munchies before sleeping, snack on some fresh fruit.

3. Bingeing

Why is it bad?
If popular bingeing foods were celery sticks and lettuce leaves, nutritionists wouldn't have such a problem with this form of eating, but unfortunately food binges usually come in the form of fatty snack foods. Gorging yourself on such foods will likely lead to weight gain, dissatisfaction, and a feeling that you lack discipline.

What to do: Eat five to six smaller meals per day, rather than three large ones, which leave the window open for bingeing on snacks between meals. Eating healthy, small meals containing complex carbs and lean protein spaced throughout the day will not only help curb your appetite, they'll also reduce chances of overeating. Small meals will also help burn more calories.

4. Starving yourself

Why is it bad?
Contrary to belief, the body's first reaction to starvation is weight gain via the storage of fat. Why does the body do this? When you don't eat for long periods of time, your body becomes pretty upset that you've been depriving it of food, so when you finally do eat again, your body thinks it needs to store these calories as fat because it doesn't know when the chance to eat will come again.

What to do: If you are starving yourself to lose weight, then it's time to re-evaluate your diet and begin a workout programme or up the intensity of your current gym routine. Make sure your diet is high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and includes lean meats and fish. Try hitting the gym three to five times a week, and vary your routine.

5. Eating while doing something

Why is it bad?
Not only is eating while doing something else a great way to get food all over yourself, it also leads to overeating, and subsequently, weight gain. If you eat while you're watching TV, at your desk at work, or playing a video game, external distractions will lead your body to pay less attention to internal hunger and satiety cues that may be telling you that you're not even hungry, or that you're way too full. Plus, once you begin eating while doing something else, you often can't stop as the act of eating becomes a mechanical movement.

What to do: Try to focus on one thing at a time. Wandering into the kitchen when you're on the phone is a bad idea. If you're eating just to keep your hands and mouth busy, find other distractions that don't involve calories.

6. Eating too fast

Why is it bad?
Life is fast. But start slowing things down at your next meal because eating too quickly isn't doing you favours. Hoovering in your food at warp speed encourages weight gain. It takes about 20 minutes from the time you begin eating for satiety signals to reach your brain, so if you wolf down your meal in five minutes, your brain won't get the chance to tell your body it's full, making you overeat and filling your body with more food and calories than you need.

What to do: Slow down, relax, really chew your food and enjoy the taste. If you're pressed for time at breakfast or lunch, make sure that your meal is small to begin with, so that if you do end up eating fast, it won't be more calories than you need.

7. Not drinking enough water

Why is it bad?
It's no secret that water is necessary for the optimal functioning of all life forms and metabolic functions (including calorie burning), humans included. What's surprising is that not drinking adequate amounts of water throughout the day can actually slow down your metabolism, making weight gain a likely possibility.

What to do: Aim to chug back eight to 10 glasses a day, more if you exercise regularly. It's also a smart move to drink water with your meal rather than juice or soda, which may fill you up faster than water, but contains lots of empty calories.

-The writer is a weight management expert and the founder of Good Habits. Visit www.goodhabitsuae.com


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