Nobody is a saint when it comes to eating right, not even a Nutritionist. But the saying often goes: It’s not just what you’re eating, it’s how you eat, too. Here are five common unhealthy eating habits and how you can kick them now.
Wolfing down food in record time not only can lead to indigestion, but means you’re not chewing your food properly – the first (and critical) step is digestion. Countless studies have shown that sufficient chewing results in more favourable levels of appetite-regulating hormones that tell your brain when you’ve had enough. To slow down your eating, chew every bite a minimum of 10 times – or whatever it takes to really grind it into mush. Bonus. You may even end up eating less.
Sorry folks, but noshing straight out of box or packet is not a very mindful practice. Get in the habit of portioning out snacks and placing them on a plate (even if it’s a single cracker). Not only does this put a defined end to the snack, but gives you a better sense of exactly what and how much you’re eating.
Multi-tasking is efficient in today’s busy world, but not when it comes to eating habits. An interesting study published in the Journal of Clinical Nutrition categorised eaters into ‘attentive’ and ‘distracted’ groups, and found that the distracted lot ate more in one sitting, plus found it harder to recall the amount of food consumed. If you constantly eat lunch at your desk or dinner while watching Netflix, challenge yourself to eat without distractions—and your waistline may thank you.
Skipping any meal not only wreaks havoc on energy levels, but can also mean you compensate by overeating at later times of the day. If you’re keen on salads make sure they contain some protein (think chickpeas, boiled eggs, tuna, salmon) and quality carbs (sweet potato, quinoa, brown lentils) – a combination which helps you feel fuller for longer and less likely to snack mindlessly later. I’m not talking large portions, just fist size portions – enough to satisfy, but not bog you down.
Just because Gwyneth Paltrow or Beyonce eats that way, doesn’t mean it works for you, too. Instead of following the latest celebrity-driven diet trend that doesn’t fit your lifestyle, focus on simple strategies that you can realistically live with. Likewise, being fixated on eating nothing but ‘clean’ or ‘pure’ – a term known as ‘orthorexia’ can spiral into more unhealthy habits later down the track. Eventually, the innocent obsession with healthy eating can crowd out other activities and interests, impair relationships, and become physically taxing. Learn that food is important, however is only one small aspect of life.