Out with the Bad

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Break these seven bad nutritional habits for a healthier, leaner you in 2019 Sometimes, even the best-laid diet plans fail. Why? Because we can’t break that sneaky eating habit, which we think is harmless, but is, in fact, wreaking havoc on our diet. Then, the next thing you know, that ‘harmless’ habit has made you gain a few kilos instead of losing… or made you lose weight when you are trying to gain. The worst thing is that you might not even recognise the culprit. Here is a guide to help you identify exactly where you are going wrong in your diet and how to fix it for a healthier you in 2016.

1.      Keeping Unhealthy Food Around

Almost all of us are guilty of keeping snacks in our fridges, office desks and cars for that pick-me up energy boost. But it is so hard to stick to a healthy diet when temptation is staring right at you. In a study, office workers were transparent and opaque containers. Those with transparent containers helped themselves to 71% more candy as compared to those with opaque containers.

THE FIX: Only keep healthy snacks around, such as hummus, carrot and cucumber strips, yoghurt, popcorn or nuts. Don’t stock your fridge with soda, potato chips, cookies, chocolate or other high-calorie snacks that you can’t resist.

2.      Skipping Breakfast

Do you know that breakfast is the most important meal of the day? A good breakfast gives you the energy you need to power your body to start the day and helps curb cravings later in the day. Eating a poor breakfast, or none at all, will leave you feeling sluggish, slow your metabolism, lead to overeating later on and ultimately, lead to weight gain. A study on Chinese schoolchildren found that those who skipped breakfast gained significant weight over a two-year period as compared to those who ate in the morning. With many tasks demanding your attention in the morning, you might find yourself skipping this meal.

THE FIX: Stock up on healthy breakfast foods that you can consume on the run, such as cereal, fruit, yoghurt, smoothies, or healthy sandwiches. Never miss a breakfast again.

3.      Emotional Eating

You eat to heal heartbreaks, you eat to celebrate when you are happy, and you eat when you have a bad day at work. This is clearly not a good diet strategy! It is even worse when you opt for high fat, sugary, high-calorific food for your emotional bingeing. Research shows that emotional eating can be a big stumbling block to weight loss.

THE FIX: It is time to find a new healthy stress-busting activity. We highly recommend taking up physical activities like a leisurely stroll in your neighbourhood. You can also try talking to a friend, taking up a new hobby or any other activity that keeps you away from food.

4.      Mindless Eating

Do you eat when you are bored just so that you have something to do? Stop, eating is not a recreational activity! Mindless eating watching TV, working on an office report, or watching sports can make you consume more calories than you realise. It is even worse when you are eating straight from the packet or from a large bowl. Cornell University food psychologist Brian Wansink found that moviegoers given stale (yes, stale!) popcorn still ate 45% more than those given smaller containers holding the same amount of fresh popcorn.

THE FIX: Avoid mindless snacking when you can and eat from smaller containers when you can’t avoid it. Make sure to snack on healthy options such as oil-free popcorn, apple slices, or nuts.

5.      Night-Time Noshing

Do you raid the fridge at night for snacks? Although some experts say that it doesn’t matter when you eat, a new animal study backs up the idea that night-time eating can lead to weight gain. Researchers at North-western University found that mice fed on high-fat foods during the day (when it is time for nocturnal mammals like them to be sleeping) gained more weight than those fed at night.

THE FIX: Have dinner before 7:00 PM and keep off the kitchen. If you get hungry, allow yourself a simple fruit or nut snack. Brush your teeth; you won’t want to eat after cleaning your teeth for the night.

6.      Eating Fast Food

We all know that junk food is the devil. Indulging in even a little junk food can spiral into binge eating because of cravings. Research has found that junk food is very addictive, much like heroin and cocaine! The quick energy fix from fast food brings feelings of happiness and wellbeing, and later gives you a low that leaves you craving for more fast food.

THE FIX: It might not be easy to go cold turkey on fast food. A good solution is to gradually wean yourself off junk food. Order smaller portions of your favourite fast food have a cheat day and keep healthy snacks around you for when the cravings strike.

7.      Eating Too Fast

Food is meant to be savoured, not wolfed down. When you ingest your food too quickly, you are likely to overeat because you are not giving your brain the time to catch up with your tummy. Typically, your brain needs 15-20 minutes after you start eating to communicate satiety. Eating slowly will also allow you to chew your food well, preventing stomach upset.

THE FIX: Put your cutlery down between bites, take smaller bites and chew every bite thoroughly before swallowing. Drinking water throughout your meal will also slow your pace.

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