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The Real Reason Breaking Bad Habits is SO Hard

Struggling to eat better? You’re not alone. As someone who used to weigh about 40 pounds more than I do today, I can tell you first hand that eating healthy is not always easy. And science tells us that it’s not entirely our fault.

In a world where food (especially the unhealthy and highly processed kind) is so readily available, it can be tough to change your unhealthy eating habits. But what really makes eating healthy SO hard? Why don’t our bodies crave the stuff that’s good for us?

The answer is complicated, yet simple-they do, sort of. Our taste buds have been genetically engineered to crave high-calorie, high-fat foods (that we used to need for energy-hunting, gathering, exploring the continent, etc), and now we’ve created food that tastes even better than nature’s, which makes lettuce a hard sell when compared to a juicy burger.

The bad news: Processed and fast foods can truly be addicting. A 2010 study published in Nature Neuroscience found that when rats were regularly fed fast food, their brain chemistry changed-and not for the better. The rats became obese and lost the ability to determine when they were hungry (they would eat fatty foods even when administered electric shocks). They actually refused to eat when put on a healthy diet. And more research shows that food can be just as addictive as drugs.

The good news: This “addiction” goes both ways, and you can slowly start to change your tastes and become “addicted” to healthier foods if you start eating them enough. That’s what food psychologist Marcia Pelchat found when she gave test subjects a low-fat, vanilla-flavored drink (described as ‘not very yummy’) every day for two weeks. After consuming it so often, most people started to crave the drink, despite its ‘chalky’ taste. The point: Even if vegetables taste terrible to you now, the more you eat them regularly, the more you’ll start to enjoy them.

It’s important to remember that creating new habits (both good and bad) takes time. It’s safe to assume that you’ll have a hard time sticking with your healthy diet if you go from regularly eating french fries to strictly salads in one day. Gradual, small changes are what really worked for me (and many of my clients). Start with simple swaps like replacing your daily afternoon candy bar or dessert with healthier sweet snack (here are 20 yummy options to try). Then, move on to tackle another piece of your diet puzzle-like your soda habit.

By reframing an all-or-nothing approach in favor of small, realistic changes, you’ll be more likely to break the binge-diet cycle for good. It’s perfectly fine to enjoy a little pizza or chocolate now and then, but you may find that eating healthy most of the time is not only possible, it’s enjoyable!

Jessica Smith is a certified wellness coach, fitness expert, and personal trainer. The star of numerous exercise DVDs and the creator of the 10 Pounds DOWN series, she has more than 10 years of experience in the health and fitness industry.

  • By Jessica Smith

There’s an intriguing psychological reason it’s so hard to stick to a diet

Yelp When was the last time you were caught choosing a decadent dessert over a healthy snack despite previously promising yourself to eat healthier?

Chances are you’re not alone. And some new research reveals what’s going on in the brain when you opt for the cake instead of the fruit platter.

When people see a thing that reminds them of something that was rewarding in the past — like a slice of chocolate cake — the part of their brains linked with pleasure may be flooded with the brain chemical dopamine, even if they’re not paying attention to it, according to a study published Thursday in the journal Current Biology.

The findings could explain why it’s so hard to stick to a diet.

Even when you’ve decided not to eat junk food anymore, your brain is still rewarding you for past bad behavior, Brian Anderson, a neuroscientist at Johns Hopkins University and one of the study’s authors, told Business Insider.

“When you have a difficult time getting your mind off something that was rewarding in the past but you don’t want to do anymore, you can’t help but pay attention,” he said.

The brain remembers past rewards

Previous research has shown that when we have a rewarding experience such as eating a piece of cake or having sex, our brains are flooded with the brain chemical dopamine. But the reason we continue to experience these rewards even when we’re not consciously seeking out the thing that causes them has been a mystery.

Brian Anderson/Johns Hopkins University To find out, Anderson and his colleagues recruited 20 people for a brain-scanning study. They had to perform two tasks while having their brains scanned in a PET machine, which measures brain activity using a radioactive chemical injected into their blood.

In the first task, the volunteers had to find colored shapes on a screen. They were paid $1.50 for finding red objects and $0.25 for finding green ones.

In the second task, the participants had to do the same thing, except they were no longer paid for finding shapes of a particular color.

Here’s the surprising part: Even when they were no longer being paid for finding the shapes, the participants automatically focused on red objects when they appeared, and the brain scans revealed a release in dopamine in a region at the base of the brain called the ventral striatum, which is known to be involved in experiencing rewarding things.

They were also slower to find shapes of other colors, perhaps because they were distracted by the red ones, the researchers theorized.

What the findings showed was that a previously rewarding experience (finding red shapes) was still linked with the brain’s release of feel-good chemicals, even when the person no longer expected a reward from the behavior.

While the experiments involved a fairly abstract paradigm with shapes on a computer screen, we may be able to extrapolate the findings to real-world scenarios, such as trying to stick to a diet, Anderson said. When you see a donut, for example, your brain may already start releasing dopamine because of your previous experience of a delicious donut, even though you may not even be thinking about eating one.

Of course, self-control “is a complicated process, and many things contribute to your inability to overcome a desire to do that’s not good for you,” he said.

How to resist temptation

So given this knowledge of how our brains work, what can we do to resist temptation?

Anderson suggests two strategies:

  1. Avoid situations in which you know you’re going to encounter the temptation, such as going to a donut shop.
  2. Reward yourself for doing things you want to keep doing, like letting yourself watch your favorite TV show after going to the gym.

But when it comes to self-control, not all of us are created equal. And the strength of the reward signal in your brain can predict how much you struggle to avoid paying attention to it, Anderson said.

In a small previous study of people with drug addiction, he has found that addicts may be more strongly affected by temptations of any kind, not just drugs. When he and his colleagues gave 17 opioid addicts and 17 healthy people the same color-finding task as the one in the new study, the addicts were much slower than the healthy volunteers to recognize the colors that weren’t rewarded with money. The addicts also scored higher on a test designed to measure their impulsivity.

These findings suggest that addiction may be part of a much broader problem in how the brain makes decisions, which is something the researchers plan to look into in the future.

A recent report by the National Obesity Forum stated that official advice about low-fat diets is wrong. As ever, there’s now heated debate over how valid/accurate this claim is. But let’s step back a moment and ask a revealing question: why do official government dietary guidelines even exist? Why are they necessary?

From an entirely logical position, eating food fulfils several requirements. It provides the energy to do things, helps us build up stores of energy for when needed, and provides the materials required to build and maintain our bodies. Therefore, the human body requires a regular intake of nutrients, vitamins and calories to maintain day-to-day functioning. As a result, the human body has developed an intricate digestive system to monitor and regulate our food intake.

The digestive system is quite cool. It has a sophisticated nervous system that can operate pretty much independently, so is often regarded as separate from the main one, leading some to describe it as a “second brain”, there to encourage, monitor and process the consumption and digestion of food. It also utilises hormones, namely leptin and ghrelin, which decrease and increase appetite respectively depending on how much food the body has/needs. It’s a painstakingly complex and precise system that’s evolved over aeons to make sure we eat what and when we need to, and get the most out of our food.

However, at some point the human brain got involved, then everything went to hell. This is why we can now be presented with foodstuffs we’re repeatedly told are unhealthy, even dangerous, and say “Thanks. Extra chilli sauce on mine, please”.

Spicy food is another example of our brains being weird when it comes to food. “What’s in this? A chemical that literally causes pain? Great, love that”.

A craving for pain-inducing food is just one way our brains make a corned-beef hash of our eating behaviours. Despite the fact that the digestive system has clearly evolved to handle what we eat, the brain can (and regularly does) override it, for at-best-questionable reasons. Think of it as a manager, promoted above their ability level but unaware of this, constantly overruling more competent subordinates when it comes to important tasks.

The most important meal of the day. Every day. Perhaps 3 times a day. Or more. Photograph: Alamy

For example, binge eating is bad for us, but there’s evidence to suggest that our brains have evolved to encourage it. It makes a certain logical sense; if you’re a creature that lives in the wild, where food is often scarce, discovering a source of high-calorie or fatty foodstuffs, things that provide abundant metabolic energy, having a tendency to consume as much of it as possible and add it to your bodily stores regardless of when and what you last ate would be a survival advantage.

However, these days finding food isn’t a problem for your typical first-world human; we can literally summon it at the touch of a button. The more fundamental systems in our brain haven’t quite figured this out yet though (evolution takes a long time, apps do not), so the instinct to eat as much as we can of a thing we like remains, despite it being a bad idea overall.

This ties into the fact that while the hypothalamus tries to do a sensible job of regulating appetite and intake based on calorific requirements, consuming high-calorie foods induces pleasure via the reward pathways, giving us a strong preference for these things regardless of whether we need them.

This positive association with certain foods can be so potent that the brain overrules the stomach when it’s telling us we’ve eaten enough. You’ve probably experienced this yourself. You’ve sat groaning after a big meal where you ate almost an entire cow or enough spaghetti to choke a blue whale, meaning your stomach has stretched and released signals saying “no more”. Then the waiter offers to show you the dessert menu, and you say “sure”.

Why? You felt incredibly full just seconds earlier, you couldn’t possibly need any more calories. Nonetheless, the mere possibility of ice cream or cake means your brain rides roughshod over all the digestive system recommendations and tells us we’re able to carry on eating. Because it wants the nice thing.

The opposite is also true. You can eat something every day, it can be your favourite food for years, but if you eat it and feel sick just once, even if it’s just a coincidence, then your brain declares it off-limits from then on. The disgust response is an extremely powerful evolved mechanism, and the brain takes no chances when it comes to something that it thinks has made us ill, hence even the mere thought of eating that thing causes us to feel nauseous, despite our long history of eating it with no problems.

Even if you’re full, you can still eat dessert. All desserts are composed entirely of dark matter so don’t have any calories or interact with our bodies in any way. Photograph: Alamy

Habits are another problem. The brain is good at habit forming, especially with food, hence the common term “eating habits”. This is why it can be very hard to stop eating unhealthily. I used to grab a snack from the nearby shop on my walk to work every morning, until my expanding waistline suggested I should perhaps stop. But even now, I still feel weird hunger pangs whenever I pass that shop, even if I’ve just eaten. The brain learns to expect food at certain times, and prompts us when we don’t supply it. Ergo, it takes more willpower than you think to cut down on snacks.

The timing and rhythms of the brain also have a constant effect on appetite, hence we reliably get hungry at certain times, and people with health concerns that affect sleep patterns (e.g. Depression) often experience weight gain.

Memory also plays a part. An ingenious study by the University of Bristol involving an elaborate soup-pumping setup showed that it’s what people remember eating rather than what they actually ate that affects how soon they get hungry again. I’ve also heard report of amnesia patients constantly complaining of hunger, despite having only just eaten; even though they did, they can’t remember eating, so the brain decides it’s still hungry. Despite all the detailed info supplied by the digestive system, it’s the brain that gets the final say on when and what we eat. And it’s often wrong.

If you’re still dubious about the level of control the brain has over the digestive system, consider the fact that eating disorders like anorexia exist. Never mind the whys and hows or responsibilities, that they exist at all is incredible. Our brains can overrule our digestive system to the extent that it’s genuinely life threatening, defeating survival instincts that have evolved over millions of years.

It’s not all one way of course; apparently the stomach and digestive system can directly affect the functioning of the brain too, influencing mood and behaviour. So basically our diet is controlled by two separate systems which are meant to work together but can’t seem to agree on anything. It’s obviously a very stressful arrangement.

And what do we do when we’re stressed? EAT! And so the cycle continues.

This article is adapted from a section in Dean Burnett’s debut book The Idiot Brain, all about the flaws and failings of the typical brain. Dean Burnett will be discussing this with Robin Ince at the Guardian Live event in London on June 2nd.

The Healthy Eating Struggles I ALWAYS Hear About & What To Do About Them

I love love love getting emails from the LSF community. It helps me figure out what to give you more of, and I also get to see what you guys just aren’t feeling. BUT the #1 reason I love getting emails from you guys is that I get to learn SO much about all of you. It’s amazing to see the unique ways each one of you is facing your struggles and dealing with them head on.

In reading all of your stories, there are some clear themes – things that a whole bunch of you are all dealing with – and while I love responding individually, I want to provide a place for you guys to connect with each other and the whole LSF community to get some extra support. So write a comment! Share the post on Facebook! I’m writing this post because so many of you are on the same page…let’s take advantage of the amazing community we have.

So what IS the #1 nutrition struggle I hear about?

(Drumroll) ?

Snacking on junk food.

And man, do I understand how hard that one can be! Even people who don’t identify as emotional eaters will get to the end of a long day and just crave a quick hit of sugar or a crunchy, salty snack. This can be SO frustrating: you put so much effort in all day – you nail it with a healthy breakfast, you brought your salad to work and skipped lunch out with your coworkers, you even made it to the gym after a stressful workday – and then…you finish off a whole bag of Doritos. Two steps forward, one step back.

The first thing I want to say before ANYTHING else (hear me on this one!), finishing off a bag of Doritos is NOT the end of the world. You’re on a fitness journey and indulging in junk food doesn’t change that. In fact, guilt is one of the biggest problems with junk food: if you hate yourself for caving in and eating a handful of Doritos, then a lot of the time, the discouragement will make you completely give up.

That’s when you get to “OMG I just ate a whole family sized bag alone.” Even if you have a healthy portion of a sugary desert every single day, that is a more psychologically healthy place to be in than constantly stressing about food and then having a full meltdown when you “mess up”!

But not all junk food snacking is created equal. And if you want to address your junk food habit, the first step is figuring out why you can’t say no. Here are the four most common types of people that struggle with junk food holding them back.

1. The Sleepy Snacker

Guess what the number one source of fuel for your brain is. Straight-up glucose, ladies – aka, simple sugars. The white breads, the sugary sodas, the double fudge brownies. All forms of carbohydrate eventually break down into glucose, but when you’re tired, your brain wants the quickest fix of simple sugars, so it goes for the ones that are ready to be used for fast fuel!

Have you ever gotten a candy craving while focusing really hard on a project for school or work? It’s because your brain needs some quick energy to keep firing. But just because your brain says it wants candy does not mean you *have* to get candy.

TIPS for you:

Before you go for the gummy bears, try to eat a slice of whole wheat toast with almond butter. Healthy fats are an incredible way to fuel your body and stop cravings. Give it 15 minutes. If you still want gummy worms, have them! But try to give your body another form of fuel to get through the craving.

My other go-to when trying to avoid sleepy snacking, a 5 minute LSF workout. Sometimes it’s all you need to get back on track and train yourself to recognize the difference between real hunger and crazy cravings.

2. The Stress Eater

Eating snacks we love releases dopamine (the happy hormone) in our brains! So when you’re stressed out and just looking for a little relief, it makes perfect sense that you would go for your favorite childhood snack or your favorite comfort food. Unfortunately, if you are trying to change your lifestyle to be more healthy, eating that food will ultimately stress you out even more. You’ll feel like you “failed,” so you get more anxiety, so you eat another cupcake to feel better, and the cycle continues.

First of all, strive to stop the cycle of guilt as SOON as you feel it. It really will come back to bite you, and it will make your journey so much harder. Second, are there any healthier snacks that bring you those same feelings as comfort food?

TIPS for you:

Sometimes, a simple swap can help: if Doritos are your weakness, give some nacho cheese flavored cashews a chance. The healthy fats will help curb your cravings and keep you full.

Take a bubble bath!! It’s hard to eat mindlessly when you’re trying to relax in the tub, and it might just bring your stress levels down enough that you take the time to make a truly nourishing meal for yourself

3. The Busy Bee by Day / Snack Monster by Night

This girl is the one who runs around all day long, forgetting to eat entire meals, who then gets home and eats everything in the pantry. If this is you, your problem is that you aren’t eating enough! This sounds kinda backwards, right? Certainly, portion sizes in this country are WAY too big. However, guess when your willpower is the weakest…when you’re starving!

I know results will seem to come faster if you deprive yourself of food (and many of us are good at skipping meals during our busy days) but when you get home to relax for the night, your body is going to try and get the nutrition it needs.

You’ll notice you crave salt when your dehydrated, sugar when you’re brain didn’t get enough carbs, chocolate or meat when you’re iron deficient. It’s actually really cool and I give you tips for this in the LSF Plan too! But the point is: EAT THROUGHOUT THE DAY! If you are well-nourished, the decision to grab a healthy snack will be so much easier than if you get home ravenously hungry.

TIPS for you:

Schedule snacks, and pack them in advance.

Drink a glass of water. If you were too busy to eat, you were probably too busy to stay hydrated. Then, focus on being mindful and slowing down a bit as you snack.

4. The Peer-Pressured Indulger

You sit down to catch up on the Bachelor, and your friend hands you a giant class of wine and some buttery popcorn. Or your mom made chocolate chip cookies! Or, your boyfriend picked up chicken nuggets on the way home and you LOVE those chicken nuggets. I get it! Life is happening and food is a huge part of our social relationships.

That’s a great thing. In my opinion, the best time to give yourself a break is when you’re having fun with others. But again, if you have it in your head that this is the only “good” food you’ll get for a week, that’s a recipe for overeating.

Moderation is a principle you truly have to believe in: you are ALLOWED to eat whatever you want whenever you want it, but you want to feel your best. And you won’t feel your best trying to workout with 8 cookies in your stomach.

Tips for you:

HAVE the cookie! No guilt. If you feel the freedom to indulge in moderation, you will stop at one or two, instead of 10.

Volunteer to bring the snacks yourself. Then, you can bring a healthy batch of no bake brownies or some organic air-popped popcorn. Everyone wins!

You’re not alone, babe.

Please know, there are many reasons why junk food might be a struggle for you, but these are some of the most common reasons people relay to me. We all hear so many messages about food on a daily basis, so it can be really hard to enjoy eating, and this community you have in Team LSF is here to support you. All of us have struggles.

Above all, do NOT fixate on perfection. The more you keep tally of your tiny mistakes, the more shame you will attach to food! The heart behind all of this is that you girls would truly be able to live without guilt when you have a sweet treat or miss a workout.

Once you feel how amazing it is to get regular exercise and eat nourishing foods, you won’t sweat the small stuff as much. You will naturally crowd out the foods that make you feel worse, and gravitate toward real nutrition. My Guiltless Nutrition Guide is full of these types of recipes: food that lets you enjoy food and enjoy your life, while also helping you look and feel your best.

Get recipes like these guiltless fudgsicles!
✨Guiltless Nutrition Lifestyle + Recipe Book for 15% Off! ✨
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For those of your struggling with junk food, I hope these tips help you live with just a little more freedom around food! What you eat cannot change a single thing about who you ARE. Live guiltless, my loves.

How to Make Eating Right Feel Like Less of a Struggle

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Eating healthy can feel overwhelming and complicated and challenging.

Low carb, organic, whole grains, gluten free, vegan, Paleo, low fat, keto, and eating for your body type… all the options can make your head spin! You want something that’s going to work, and you want it yesterday.

The reality: Putting in the work to eat well requires a least a little bit of effort. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to health; what might work great for some won’t work for the next person. If some of the following healthy-eating struggles sound familiar, you’re not alone. We’ll help you sort through the issues so you can find an individualized approach that works for you.

7 Common Struggles On the Road to Eating Healthy

You’re not sure how to eat healthy.

If you didn’t grow up eating a balanced diet with healthy foods, figuring out which foods are healthy and how to cook them can feel like a major roadblock.

You’re not alone. When you start eating healthy, it’s normal to be concerned about whether or not food will taste good, how to cook it, or even what to buy at the grocery or order off the restaurant menu. Ease yourself in. Consider trying one new food a week or making just one or two healthy recipes your first few weeks. You may also want to start watching cooking shows or consider consulting with a registered dietitian to build your food confidence.

Eating healthy is more expensive.

You may have said or heard these comments before: “Fresh fruits and veggies go bad so fast. Eating organic drains the pocket book. It all just seems so expensive.”

If you can’t afford to buy all-organic produce, that’s totally OK. Be selective about the ones you can shell out more for; the clean/dirty produce list can help guide you to discover what produce you should prioritize purchasing to suit you and your family’s preferences. If you can’t afford to buy organic at all, the clean/dirty produce list can help as well because at least you can make the majority of your non-organic produce purchases from the clean list.

Buying in-season produce can also help you save money, and it tastes better. Frozen fruits and veggies can also be easier on the wallet, are just as healthy as fresh (they’re flash frozen at their peak of ripeness) and can help you cut down on food waste. Instead of crushed ice or cubes, use frozen fruit in smoothies. Instead of wilting raw spinach or kale leaves into soups, use boxes of frozen spinach or chopped frozen kale. You’re cooking the greens for a longer amount of time anyway, so you don’t need the fresh-from-the-garden taste of raw greens.

I’ll admit, I will buy a lot of healthy convenience items, such as pre-chopped veggies and energy bars… and while I may be paying a few more dollars at the check out line, this helps me to actually use the veggies before they go bad, and it saves time in the prep department. But, this is something I prioritize in my budget, as I have a toddler and not a lot of time to spend on food prep.

You hate grocery shopping.

Some people legitimately hate going to the grocery store. But good news… there’s an app for that. With the growing number of grocery delivery services — even Amazon has jumped on this gravy train with Prime Now — you can order on your phone or computer and schedule your groceries to be delivered at a time that’s convenient for you. And there is evidence that shows preordering food may actually help you eat healthier.

Unhealthy food marketing is inescapable.

Scroll through Pinterest and you’ll see double stuffed cookie dough pie and slutty brownie bars swirled with marshmallows, all tempting us to feel like we need chocolate. We all know where the office candy jar is and where to find the box of donuts or cookies or birthday cake.

Be the change you want to see. Provide a healthier solution and bring in a batch of homemade (and healthy… shhh, don’t advertise this, and see if anybody notices) Flourless Brownie Muffins for the next birthday celebration, or Baked Pumpkin Donuts With Maple Glaze to that next early morning meeting, or if you don’t have time to whip up homemade snacks, stash these in your desk so that when your stomach growls, you won’t head to the candy jar or vending machine.

You feel like you don’t have the time to eat healthy.

Eating healthy might seem like it takes more time than running through the drive-thru. However, taking just one or two hours to meal prep on the weekend will save you rushing around to figure out breakfast, lunch, or dinner all week! Three cheers for less stress, right?

You’re afraid of trying a recipe that might fail.

So you find a new recipe you want to try and then you cook it. Maybe you enjoy it, but all the kids (and the husband) turn up their noses. And you get a whole bunch of whining and complaining. It’s tempting to want to throw in the towel and go back to the usual recipes you know they will enjoy.

But stay the course! Try cooking foods in different ways. So you don’t like raw onions… well, try them caramelized. Don’t like steamed broccoli? Try roasting it. The cooking method can greatly alter the taste of foods. Hint: All veggies taste better roasted.

You have FOMO.

The fear of missing out can be strong when all-or-nothing thinking creeps in, and you focus on what you sacrifice to eat healthy (instead of what you gain).

But, eating well doesn’t mean you have to be perfect — that’s nonsense. Even those who eat healthy most of the time have their cheat meals. That’s why OpenFit supports a 80-20 strategy. There’s no missing out when you allow yourself to enjoy everything in moderation.

Yes, you can still eat cheeseburgers and brownies, just not every day!

Tell us your other struggles below and we will use them to come up with another article full of helpful tips!

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I’m trying to eat healthily but I’m struggling to stick to it. Are there any diet plans that could help keep me on track?

As you are probably all too aware there are literally hundreds of different diet plans out there. From Paleo to the 5:2 they offer different approaches to both weight loss and becoming a healthier person. Go online and you’ll even find tests designed to find out which regime will work best for you. The simple fact of the matter is there is no definitive right or wrong diet plan for you. And what is also important to remember is there is no ‘quick fix’.

We’d suggest that a balanced diet with plenty of fruit and veg, fibre and vitamins and minerals, along with lean protein and ‘good’ fats, is essential if you want to stick to healthy eating. So check that any diet plan you choose is providing these. When looking at the best diet plan for you ask yourself this simple question: Have I the time and the motivation to stick to it? If you regularly feel hungry, and as a result are tempted to eat unhealthy snacks, it’s likely your current attempts at healthy eating aren’t providing all the nutrients you need.

Remember, being healthy doesn’t necessarily mean small portions. So, if you want to be healthier, get fitter and watch your weight you have to work at it – it all about getting into a routine and learning good habits. Actions like keeping alcohol down to the minimum and fitting exercise into your weekly routine play a key role too.

The risks of poor nutrition

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7 Signs Your Body Says You’re Not Eating Enough

Stress, busy schedules, illnesses, grief, and the hustle and bustle of everyday life can take a toll on our appetites and the way our bodies regulate hunger, which often leads to us not eating enough.

We don’t talk enough about both sides of the spectrum when it comes to nutrition, our appetites, and our weight. There are more articles than I could ever count on “how to lose 5 pounds”, “weight loss,” and more, but the media fails to share the other side of someone else’s story, which may be the challenge to gain weight healthfully or increase appetite, no matter what the cause or reason.

While high cortisol levels can cause over-eating, corticotropin-releasing hormones produced in response to stress can suppress appetite. (1) This may lead to skipped meals and undereating due to stress or decreased appetite. Not eating enough food and depriving your body of important nutrients can manifest in ways that wreak havoc on your metabolism and hormones, both of which may take longer to notice if you’ve been consistently undereating for your body type.

Let’s dive in and take a look at the not-so-subtle signs that your body may not be getting enough vital protein, carbohydrates, and fat, and what you can do to increase your food intake with a balanced diet.

Signs You Are Not Eating Enough

1. Low Energy

If you’ve been feeling straight up exhausted for several weeks regardless of how much you snooze or the quality of your sleep, it might be time to re-evaluate your diet. Energy looks like a lot of things, and our philosophy at NS doesn’t exactly equate energy with calorie counting. However, it’s undeniable that one of the most common dangers of not eating enough calories is low energy levels.

According to the USDA dietary guidelines, women should consume between 1,600-2,400 calories daily and men should get between 2,000-3,000. Again, keep in mind that these are just guidelines, so if you lead a very active lifestyle and exercise frequently, you may need to consume more calories than average.

You also want to be mindful of the quality, not the quantity of the calories you’re consuming. Fueling your body with quality protein, complex carbohydrates, and healthy fats will help you increase energy levels by revving up your metabolism. In fact, research shows that consuming a fiber-rich diet can prevent obesity and metabolic syndrome and promote beneficial bacteria in the gut. (2)

2. Dizziness

Dizziness can be one of the first physical signs of not eating enough. When you’re not eating enough food, your blood sugar levels can plummet and make you feel dizzy or faint. Dizziness can also be a sign you’re dehydrated, so drink plenty of water throughout the day, or mix things up with a smoothie, unsweetened iced tea or a fruit-infused sparkling water.

For a quick snack boost, eat something with carbohydrates and protein, like a banana with some almond butter, a handful of berries and nuts, or veggie sticks with some hummus. This combination of carbohydrates and protein will help increase your blood sugar levels to help boost your energy. However, if the dizziness persists after making these changes to your nutrition and your lifestyle, chat with your dietitian or doctor to rule out possible issues.

3. Poor Cognition and Productivity (i.e. Brain Fog)

Ever have moments of forgetfulness and “where did I put my keys?” That happens to us all, but frequent brain fog could be your body’s way of telling you to check in with how you’re nourishing yourself (i.e. food)! Brain fog can be a sign of several health challenges, but it’s also one of the key symptoms of not eating enough throughout the day. Postponing lunches or interrupting your normal meal times to attend meetings or take calls delays the energy your body needs to keep going. So if that 3 p.m. lull hits hard and you realize you haven’t had lunch, that’s your cue to head to the kitchen or grab a snack.

Again, it’s best to fill up on foods with quality nutrients. If you didn’t get to pack lunch, skip the fast food and prepared frozen meals and go for a hearty salad with plenty of fresh veggies, sweet potatoes, avocado, grilled chicken or protein of your choice, and a tasty dressing. Foods rich in B-vitamins, omega-3 fatty acids, folate, and antioxidants can help boost brain function and prevent cognitive decline. (3) Bye brain fog.

4. Hair Loss and Brittle Nails

This may come as a surprise to you, but if you’re not eating enough food or getting enough nutrients, the highest priority organs will take the lead in getting those nutrients, such as your brain, heart, etc., rather than your hair, skin, and nails. That’s why you may notice your physical appearance takes a hit when your body doesn’t get the nutrients it needs. Hair, skin, and nail health is so closely tied to what you eat along with how many minerals, healthy fats, protein, and overall nutrients your body is absorbing.

It’s normal to lose between 50-100 strands of hair every day, but if you’re losing more locks than usual and your nails seem to break easier, you may want to focus on nourishing your hair and nails from the inside out.

Start by eating foods that help produce more keratin, the protein that strengthens your hair and nails. Spinach, beans, oatmeal, salmon, eggs, and berries are all excellent sources of hair- and nail-loving nutrients. Protein, biotin, iron, vitamin B12, omega-3 fatty acids, in particular, are the best nutrients for helping you maintain the thickness, luster, and growth of your crop.

Want more healthy hair tips? Check out my guide to strong, healthy hair.

5. Irritable Mood

Hangry is a real emotion! If you’re battling a busy day and had to rush out the door without breakfast, your blood sugar and your mood can take a dip. Studies show that low glucose levels can cause aggression and violent behavior. (4) So when you haven’t had anything to eat, irritability may be one of the first noticeable side effects of not eating enough calories. In addition to feeling off your game or having a moody attitude, hunger can also cause headaches, migraine, lightheadedness, and nausea.

The best way to prevent hanger is to eat regular meals and healthy snacks, if you need to, during the day. Enjoying normal meal times will help keep your blood sugar stable, so you stay on track with your positive mood, good energy, and feeling like your best self versus the moody, irritable version.

6. Feeling Chilly

Got the chills, like all the time? It could be a sign that you need a coat or more skin on your bones. You need to consume a certain number of calories to keep your body warm while performing other bodily functions.

If you’re not eating enough, you’re probably not able to efficiently carry out thermogenesis, which is a process that helps your body generate heat. Some research suggests that people who follow a restrictive diet have lower body temperatures than those who don’t. (5)

Women who are also underweight or have low body fat might develop “downy” hair (also known as lanugo) as a way for your body to cope with heat loss. When your body doesn’t have enough body fat to heat itself up, it can grow lanugo to help trap heat. It’s common in people with anorexia nervosa or people who are extremely thin.

7. Thirsty

Making sure you eat enough is one way you can manage your hydration levels because many of the electrolytes you get in food affect thirst, including sodium, potassium, and magnesium. If you still feel thirsty after chugging down a glass of water, it’s a red flag that you may not be consuming enough calories. Sometimes, your body can also mistake thirst for hunger and misguide you away from the water bottle. Just remember to avoid sugary energy and sports drinks, sodas, fruit juices, and sweetened coffee and teas.

8. Amenorrhea

Amenorrhea is the scientific term for missing your period. Women may miss their periods for a variety of reasons, including pregnancy, changes in diet, and stress. Sometimes certain medications you take, including contraception, can affect your cycle too. Specific health conditions like hypothyroidism and polycystic ovarian syndrome can also affect your hormone levels and therefore your period.

Amenorrhea can also happen if you don’t eat enough and have low body fat or are underweight — about 10 percent under “normal” weight which is different for each of us. Being underweight can stop ovulation and cause abnormal changes in your hormones, which is why some women with disordered eating habits or women who are high performing athletes may often miss their periods. In some cases, their bodies also aren’t getting enough nutrients to carry out normal bodily functions.

The female athlete triad is basically an interrelated cycle which includes low energy intake, amenorrhea, and low bone density. This is most often seen in athletes who are trying to maintain a certain level of “leanness” for a particular sport like figure skating, ballet, gymnastics, etc.

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Above all and the biggest take home with this article is to be aware and in tune with yourself and your body’s ability to show you signs that something may not feel right or as great as it could be. If you need any help at all, that’s what your doctors and dietitians are for! They geek out about helping you come up with a plan for adding more nourishing, energy and nutrient-dense foods into your life to restore your health.

6 Steps to Fix Bad Eating Habits

Here are 6 steps to help you get rid of your old, unhealthy habits and create healthier ones:

1. Take Baby Steps. Making small changes in your diet and lifestyle can improve your health as well as trim your waistline. Some suggestions from the experts:

  • Start each day with a nutritious breakfast.
  • Get 8 hours of sleep each night, as fatigue can lead to overeating.
  • Eat your meals seated at a table, without distractions.
  • Eat more meals with your partner or family.
  • Teach yourself to eat when you’re really hungry and stop when you’re comfortably full.
  • Reduce your portion sizes by 20%, or give up second helpings.
  • Try lower-fat dairy products.
  • Make sandwiches with whole-grain bread and spread them with mustard instead of mayo.
  • Switch to cafe au lait, using strong coffee and hot skim milk instead of cream.
  • Eat a nutritious meal or snack every few hours.
  • Use nonstick pans and cooking spray instead of oil to reduce the fat in recipes.
  • Try different cooking methods, such as grilling, roasting, baking, or poaching.
  • Drink more water and fewer sugary drinks.
  • Eat smaller portions of calorie-dense foods (like casseroles and pizza) and larger portions of water-rich foods (like broth-based soups, salads, and veggies).
  • Flavor your foods with herbs, vinegars, mustards, or lemon instead of fatty sauces.
  • Limit alcohol to 1-2 drinks per day.

2. Become More Mindful. One of the first steps toward conquering bad eating habits is paying more attention to what you’re eating and drinking. “Read food labels, become familiar with lists of ingredients, and start to take notice of everything you put into your mouth,” says Gans. Once you become more aware of what you’re eating, you’ll start to realize how you need to improve your diet. Some people benefit by keeping food diaries.

3. Make a Plan; Be Specific. How are you going to start eating more fruit, having breakfast every day, or getting to the gym more often? Spell out your options. For example: Plan to take a piece of fruit to work every day for snacks, stock up on cereal and fruit for quick breakfasts, and go to the gym on the way to work three times a week. “To say ‘I am going to work out more,’ won’t help you,” says Gans. “What will help is thinking about when and how you can fit it into your lifestyle.”

Improving Your Eating Habits

When it comes to eating, we have strong habits. Some are good (“I always eat breakfast”), and some are not so good (“I always clean my plate”). Although many of our eating habits were established during childhood, it doesn’t mean it’s too late to change them.

Making sudden, radical changes to eating habits such as eating nothing but cabbage soup, can lead to short term weight loss. However, such radical changes are neither healthy nor a good idea, and won’t be successful in the long run. Permanently improving your eating habits requires a thoughtful approach in which you Reflect, Replace, and Reinforce.

  • REFLECT on all of your specific eating habits, both bad and good; and, your common triggers for unhealthy eating.
  • REPLACE your unhealthy eating habits with healthier ones.
  • REINFORCE your new, healthier eating habits.

Reflect:

  1. Create a list of your eating habits. Keep a food diary for a few days. Write down everything you eat and the time of day you eat it. This will help you uncover your habits. For example, you might discover that you always seek a sweet snack to get you through the mid-afternoon energy slump. Use this diary pdf icon to help. It’s good to note how you were feeling when you decided to eat, especially if you were eating when not hungry. Were you tired? Stressed out?
  2. Highlight the habits on your list that may be leading you to overeat. Common eating habits that can lead to weight gain are:
    • Eating too fast
    • Always cleaning your plate
    • Eating when not hungry
    • Eating while standing up (may lead to eating mindlessly or too quickly)
    • Always eating dessert
    • Skipping meals (or maybe just breakfast)
  3. Look at the unhealthy eating habits you’ve highlighted. Be sure you’ve identified all the triggers that cause you to engage in those habits. Identify a few you’d like to work on improving first. Don’t forget to pat yourself on the back for the things you’re doing right. Maybe you usually eat fruit for dessert, or you drink low-fat or fat-free milk. These are good habits! Recognizing your successes will help encourage you to make more changes.
  4. Create a list of “cues” by reviewing your food diary to become more aware of when and where you’re “triggered” to eat for reasons other than hunger. Note how you are typically feeling at those times. Often an environmental “cue”, or a particular emotional state, is what encourages eating for non-hunger reasons.
  5. Common triggers for eating when not hungry are:
    • Opening up the cabinet and seeing your favorite snack food.
    • Sitting at home watching television.
    • Before or after a stressful meeting or situation at work.
    • Coming home after work and having no idea what’s for dinner.
    • Having someone offer you a dish they made “just for you!”
    • Walking past a candy dish on the counter.
    • Sitting in the break room beside the vending machine.
    • Seeing a plate of doughnuts at the morning staff meeting.
    • Swinging through your favorite drive-through every morning.
    • Feeling bored or tired and thinking food might offer a pick-me-up.
  6. Circle the “cues” on your list that you face on a daily or weekly basis. While the Thanksgiving holiday may be a trigger to overeat, for now focus on cues you face more often. Eventually you want a plan for as many eating cues as you can.
  7. Ask yourself these questions for each “cue” you’ve circled:
    • Is there anything I can do to avoid the cue or situation? This option works best for cues that don’t involve others. For example, could you choose a different route to work to avoid stopping at a fast food restaurant on the way? Is there another place in the break room where you can sit so you’re not next to the vending machine?
    • For things I can’t avoid, can I do something differently that would be healthier? Obviously, you can’t avoid all situations that trigger your unhealthy eating habits, like staff meetings at work. In these situations, evaluate your options. Could you suggest or bring healthier snacks or beverages? Could you offer to take notes to distract your attention? Could you sit farther away from the food so it won’t be as easy to grab something? Could you plan ahead and eat a healthy snack before the meeting?

Replace:

  1. Replace unhealthy habits with new, healthy ones. For example, in reflecting upon your eating habits, you may realize that you eat too fast when you eat alone. So, make a commitment to share a lunch each week with a colleague, or have a neighbor over for dinner one night a week. Another strategy is to put your fork down between bites. Also, minimize distractions, such as watching the news while you eat. Such distractions keep you from paying attention to how quickly and how much you’re eating.
  2. Eat more slowly. If you eat too quickly, you may “clean your plate” instead of paying attention to whether your hunger is satisfied.
  3. Eat only when you’re truly hungry instead of when you are tired, anxious, or feeling an emotion besides hunger. If you find yourself eating when you are experiencing an emotion besides hunger, such as boredom or anxiety, try to find a non-eating activity to do instead. You may find a quick walk or phone call with a friend helps you feel better.
  4. Plan meals ahead of time to ensure that you eat a healthy well-balanced meal.

Reinforce:

Reinforce your new, healthy habits and be patient with yourself. Habits take time to develop. It doesn’t happen overnight. When you do find yourself engaging in an unhealthy habit, stop as quickly as possible and ask yourself: Why do I do this? When did I start doing this? What changes do I need to make? Be careful not to berate yourself or think that one mistake “blows” a whole day’s worth of healthy habits. You can do it! It just takes one day at a time!

Do you know what foods are unhealthy? When examining your diet, it can be difficult to determine what foods are healthy or not.

The most common unhealthy foods include highly-processed items “such as fast foods and snack foods,” says Vilma Andari, M.S. “Highly-processed foods tend to be low in nutrients (vitamins, minerals and antioxidants) and high on empty calories due to the content of refined flours, sodium and sugar.”

Examples of processed foods include:

  • Chips
  • Cookies
  • Cakes
  • Sugar cereals

What makes food unhealthy?

“The preparation method and the types of ingredients the food contains make it unhealthy,” says Andari. “Sodium, sugar and fat (saturated fat and trans-fat) are key ingredients one should always monitor when eating out and shopping at the grocery store. The American Heart Association recommends keeping the consumption of saturated fat to less than 7 percent and the consumption of trans-fat to less than 1 percent of an individual’s daily calories.”

Avoid sodium, added sugar

According to the American Heart Association’s 2013 heart disease prevention guidelines, women are smart to shy away from eating foods that contain high levels of sodium and added sugar.

For optimal heart health, the American Heart Association recommends you consume:

  • No more than 1,500 milligrams of sodium per day.
  • No more than 6 teaspoons or 100 calories of sugar a day for women.

Unfortunately, the average American eats more than double their recommended sodium and sugar intake, consuming 3,600 milligrams of sodium and 22 teaspoons of sugar daily.

How to avoid unhealthy food

Andari offers several pieces of advice for how to stay away from food that is bad for you:

  1. Choose processed foods carefully.
  2. Avoid sodium from the six most common salty foods (bread and rolls; cold cuts and cured meats; pizza; burritos and tacos; soup; sandwiches).
  3. Read food labels and stay away from items that have sugar added, excess sodium and fat.
  4. Plan ahead and prepare healthy snacks and meals at home made from whole, fresh foods.
  5. Choose lean meats with less than 10 percent fat.
  6. Don’t skip meals (this can contribute to snacking on unhealthy foods when hungry).

When I talk to people about the importance of whole, nourishing foods, I speak from experience. When I was 18, I struck out on my own for the first time, and that’s when I started to indulge in junk foods. Chocolate with dairy, refined white sugar, fast foods, fried chicken, pizza, cakes, cookies, gummy bears—I ate anything that I felt like eating. And I quickly became addicted, which led to the familiar ups and downs of eating unhealthy foods.

You might know the cycle—eating sugar gives you that wonderful rush, but then you come crashing down and you try to escape the “low” by eating even more processed foods. This vicious cycle usually develops into an extremely poor relationship with food.

Five years of unhealthy eating landed me in the hospital with a lump the size of a golf ball sticking out of my neck and a diagnosis of stage 1 cancer in my lymphatic system. My immune system was weakened, I was also diagnosed with chronic fatigue, and my blood work turned up Epstein-Barr virus and warning signs of leukemia. But even though I knew sugar was destroying my health, all I could think about was my next fix.

I had to break this vicious cycle once and for all to restore my health, but the thought of giving up ice cream, burgers, tacos, and chocolate for the rest of my life was almost too much to bear. There must be a way, I thought, to enjoy these indulgences in a more nourishing way without sacrificing flavor. And that’s when I started creating recipes filled with nutrients like protein, vitamin E, and antioxidants to replace my favorite processed foods.

During my healing process, every time an impulse popped up, I thought, “Okay, how can I fulfill this craving in a healthful way?” And then I would make, say, a chocolate-peanut butter cup using real cacao powder and maple syrup instead of reaching for a Reese’s cup.

Using this swap-out system, along with juicing six times per day, I was cancer-free in three months. The tumor completely dissolved, I’m still cancer-free to this day, and my relationship with food has completely transformed. And if I can do it, you can do it too.

Making the Change to Whole Foods

When someone is struggling to get healthier, I suggest two things. First, commit to having a glass of fresh juice every single day. This will take care of the basic nutrition your body needs to energize and stay in the healthy zone.

Secondly, ask yourself, “What is my biggest obstacle in terms of food?” What do you eat that you know isn’t good for you, but you just can’t resist the urge? It could be anything from chocolate to cheese to chips. Once you determine the culprit, seek out healthier upgrades.

The best way do this is to make homemade, healthier versions of your favorite foods. If that seems too daunting, go to the health food store and buy organic, non-GMO alternatives. This simple act can help you get over the guilt associated with eating junk and put your mind and body at ease. From there, it’s a process of continuing to refine your eating habits. If you’re already eating the cleanest cheese possible, for instance, but still find that it’s a weakness, look at how many times a week you eat it, and commit to cut back. If you indulge in cheese four times a week, make two times a week your goal. This way, you aren’t cutting yourself off completely, but you are taking control of your food—instead of letting your food control you.

Using this upgrade system, I shed all the excess weight that I had gained from processed foods and refined sugars, healed my body, and transformed my relationship with food.

7 Tips for Changing Bad Eating Habits

To start your journey to an upgraded diet, focus on these seven simple ideas.

  1. Get proper nutrition every single day—that will decrease your cravings for the bad stuff.
  2. Make it a habit to eat nutrient-rich foods, even on days you don’t feel like it. Our bodies need real food to survive and thrive. It’s common for human beings to sabotage their eating and not take care of themselves properly. My rule is that no matter how stressful my day is, I take care of my nutritional needs with a juice, smoothie, or salad—even if I don’t feel like it. The body always responds well to nutrition.
  3. Fresh juice is one of the quickest ways to add nutrition into your body. Juice infuses a high dose of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients straight into the bloodstream. It’s a powerful way to instantly get cellular nutrition. Try a green juice made with kale, spinach, cucumber, ginger, green apple, and lemon. It’s the best dose of energy ever.
  4. Keep in mind that there are always healthier, natural alternatives to the bad stuff. Instead of heading to the drive-thru, try making a grass-fed beef burger and French fries with avocado oil. In my books, I call this the “upgrade system.” When we upgrade our choices, we upgrade our health.
  5. Remember that no matter what health issue you may be dealing with right now, it is possible to heal. When I was suffering from food addictions, I never believed I could be healthy until it happened. And there are many, many stories like mine, so there is hope.
  6. Cut out the “four usual suspects” that cause health issues. These are gluten, refined sugar, dairy, and genetically modified ingredients (GMOs). Just one week without these health-sapping substances can make a huge difference. Don’t feel like you can do all four at once? Start with one and grow from there. The benefits are worth it.
  7. Eat local, seasonal, and organic when possible. The best option is to grow your own fruits, vegetables, and herbs if you can.

Did You Know?

Fresh juice is one ofthe quickest ways to infuse nutrition into your body.

The ultimate goal is to live the healthiest, most vibrant life possible. And that starts with making healthier choices every single day. Because every day is a new opportunity to heal.

Liana’s Top Supplements

Here are the nutrients that I take daily:

  • Bentonite Clay
  • Colloidal silver (Sovereign Silver)
  • Astragalus
  • Ashwagandha

Whole Foods Shopping List & Recipe Guide

Here are some of the foods I keep on hand at all times, plus two of my favorite recipes to try, excerpted from 10-Minute Recipes.

  • Almond butter
  • Almond flour
  • Cacao powder and cacao butter
  • Coconut oil
  • Honey
  • Maple syrup
  • Organic chocolate chips
  • Organic peanut butter
  • Organic vanilla
  • Sea salt
  • Tigernut flour

View our these nutrient-rich recipes:

  • Superfood Kale Salad
  • Beet Juice

Can You Change a Bad Eating Habit?

Why don’t people change their bad habits if all it takes is just a little will power?

Could the vampires of ‘True Blood’ fame really forsake their bad eating habits so to speak?

Well, just like for vampires, it’s a pretty complex issue – so first, what is a bad eating habit?

Bad eating habits are formed when we choose to eat things or quantities of food on a regular basis that we know will damage our health. Bad habits that are practiced regularly have staying power because they are ingrained in our subconscious, meaning we do them without “being completely aware” or using the conscious mind. The bad habit becomes the norm and it feels as if it is an unshakeable part of your lifestyle.

If you want to change on-going bad eating habits, then you have to change what goes on consciously and subconsciously. Having will power may work a few times, but eventually your subconscious gets the better of you and that’s one of many reasons why diets fail. Start by changing one of the notions you have about food, something you might think is an “ultimate” truth.

Let’s say you view yourself as a junk food lover. Is that true or do you just think it since junk food has always been a quick, reliable meal for a busy person on the run? Start by thinking you’re a person who loves a fast, convenient meal and maybe you won’t hit the first burger joint you see at lunch time and opt for a healthier choice, say soup and a homemade sandwich!

Another way to break a bad habit is to break the cycle or number of times you do it. Most self-help experts say that it takes 28 days to change a bad habit, so if you are able to stop that bad behavior for just 28 days, your subconscious automatically adopts the change.

Changing your environment is another extremely helpful tool on your quest to break bad eating habits. Stocking your fridge with the right foods, staying away from neighborhoods or areas that sell fast food, having healthy nibbles ready for your next snack attack, or even packing fruits and veggies for long car trips, can help you to realize that hunger can be sufficiently satisfied with healthy foods your body needs.

My Own Bad Eating Habits

During my teens and early 20’s, I had text book bad eating habits:
1. Eating too fast
2. Eating fast food on a regular basis
3. Eating desserts and candy every single day

How I Changed Them

1. Eating too fast is something I learned at the family dinner table. I broke the cycle or frequency of this habit by finding ways to slow down. Biologically, there are sensors in your stomach that tell the brain when it’s filled. If you eat too fast those sensors don’t have time to tell your mind that you are full and you end up overeating.

I figured out that if I put my fork down in between bites, engaged in the dinner conversation, or took small sips of water between bites, I would eat a lot slower, enjoy my food more, and not feel completely stuffed at the end of a meal. I still grapple with this bad eating habit, especially if I’m hungry before dining out. Having a small, light, low-cal snack like carrot, celery, or red pepper sticks, is the perfect solution. They won’t fill me up and spoil my dinner, but they are enough to keep my ravenous hunger in check.

2. Eating fast food on a regular basis. Changing my food environment was the best thing I ever did. I learned to cook fast, simple meals at home, on a regular basis, focusing on dishes that I craved. I was hooked when I figured out that my own cooking tasted a lot better than fast food and my waistline started shrinking. I also started packing lunch or dinner for long car trips, flights, and weekend getaways, to rid myself of travel indigestion!

3. Eating desserts and candy every single day. I used the 28-day method, without even knowing it. I made a pact with myself to stop the sweets for one month only, just too see what would happen. After one month, my sugar cravings had decreased dramatically – so I didn’t crave the candy anymore. I was shocked to learn that I shrank one whole dress size – who knew that an extra candy bar over the months could add that much to my waist?

Back To The Old Habit?

What happens if you make a mistake and return to the bad habit? It happens to everyone. If you’ve found yourself back to the old habit, the first step is to not judge yourself. Adding stress or feeling guilty about it will only add more pressure to the situation. Get right back to your healthy routine, as soon as you can. Don’t give yourself an excuse to quit. If you’re shooting for 28 days, start over with a fresh 28 day cycle.

Another way to fight the urge of the bad habit is to make happy associations with the new healthy habit. Let’s say you’re hooked on chocolate, eating a 240 calorie candy bar every day and you want to break that habit. You could always have a handful of fresh berries, or some other sweet fruit as your treat instead. After a few days your body and mind adjust to the substitution – just make sure that you are making the healthiest substution possible while keeping portion size in mind.

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Healthy Eating: Changing Your Eating Habits

How can you change your eating habits?

To eat a healthy diet, you may need to make some changes. Remember that you can change your eating habits a little bit at a time. Small changes are easier to make and can lead to better health.

Here are some ways to make healthy changes in your eating habits:

  • Keep more fruits, low-fat dairy products (low-fat milk and low-fat yogurt), vegetables, and whole-grain foods at home and at work. Focus on adding healthy food to your diet, rather than just taking unhealthy foods away.
  • Try to eat a family meal every day at the kitchen or dining table. This will help you focus on eating healthy meals.
  • Buy a healthy-recipe book, and cook for yourself. Chew gum when you cook so you won’t be tempted to snack on the ingredients.
  • Pack a healthy lunch and snacks for work. This lets you have more control over what you eat.
  • Put your snacks on a plate instead of eating from the package. This helps you control how much you eat.
  • Don’t skip or delay meals, and be sure to schedule your snacks. If you ignore your feelings of hunger, you may end up eating too much or choosing an unhealthy snack. If you often feel too hungry, it can cause you to focus a lot on food.
  • Eat your meals with others when you can. Relax and enjoy your meals, and don’t eat too fast. Try to make healthy eating a pleasure, not a chore.
  • Drink water instead of high-sugar drinks (including high-sugar juice drinks).

Why is it so hard to stick to a diet?

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