Nearly all of us have certain eating habits that risk hindering our efforts to eat healthy, be active and feel happy. While it may seem like it should be easy to stop a bad habit, it can be very difficult – especially if we don’t understand where, or why the habit started.
Are you an emotional eater or a late-night snacker? We look at some of the most common bad eating habits and how you can take back control.
Needing to eat until you’re “full”
If you don’t consider a meal over until you feel sick and struggle to stand, your idea of being full and satisfied probably means eating a lot more than you actually need.
Despite what you may be used to, dinnertime can be over before you feel you have to unbutton your jeans. Retrain your brain to feel satisfied with less by planning smaller meals, more often. For example, breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, dinner, snack. Learn to appreciate the tastes of the food, rather than mindlessly eating. When you know the next time you are scheduled to eat, you are less likely to gorge yourself. “The key is to never starve and never stuff.”
Overeating when you’re alone
If you tend to fall off the wagon when you’re on your own, you may not be treating your time spent eating as a mealtime. Sit at a table with no distractions and focus on your food instead of standing while eating, or eating while sitting in front of the TV or scrolling on your phone. It can be very easy to lose touch with your appetite if you’re doing something else at the same time. Make your mealtimes special – sit back, relax and lay the table nicely.
While we know that breakfast is a great way to kick-start the metabolism and cut cravings throughout the day, it can be difficult if you’re not hungry in the morning. Try eating a banana before your morning coffee, or prepare a small breakfast you can eat later in the day when hunger strikes. Forcing breakfast isn’t always the option, but being prepared will allow you to nourish your body when you need to.
If you are able to make wise decisions throughout the day, but as soon as you get home you raid the cupboard, you may be training your body to get hungry at night. If you’re busy during the day, you may be eating less than you need to because you simply do not hear the signs. But as soon as you slow down in the evening, you hear (and feel) the signs very clearly.
Try to focus on getting your three meals in at reasonable times of the day, but also being prepared with snacks. Eating every three hours can help prevent hunger and cravings later on. If you really need a snack after dinner, try to balance it by choosing fruit, healthy fats or protein. This may include apple and peanut butter, carrots and houmous or a banana and a handful of nuts.