Before you read this article until the end, try to remember the reason you started exercising. We know that we should not remind you of the main motives, that is, the triggers of your exercising routine, that is, to lose weight, but we do want to emphasize that one of the reasons was definitely improving your lifestyle and well-being. Also, you definitely wanted to eat whatever you want but not to gain weight. Is this possible? Yes! You can eat delicious food and stay fit and healthy. How? The secret is hidden in the answer to the question How to change bad eating habits.
Unfortunately, some of us start going to the gym hoping that exercising would be a good “alibi” for poor nutrition because it’s so easy, right? In fact, when you are just starting, it seems easier to exercise or add more workouts in a week than to prepare a healthy breakfast. However, this kind of attitude will ruin your overall well-being. You will start feeling even more tired. Your body needs nutrients and a well-balanced and planned diet.
Bad eating habits include eating fast food, addiction to the so-called midnight snacks, starvation, and other habits which are much easier to change than you think (1). Therefore, stay with us and you will learn how to change bad eating habits.
Where will bad eating habits take you?
First of all, we will talk about the symptoms and consequences of a poor diet and bad eating habits. If you do not have a balanced diet and good, smart eating habits, you will most probably feel tired several times a day or during the whole day. You might even feel tired when you wake up, despite sleeping all night. Some people experience problems with their sleeping routine. Some deal with insomnia.
The worst case is if you notice the symptoms and consequences of your skin (1). The skin on your palms might start peeling off and it might become white. Also, your hair may become fragile and dull. Your teeth and nails can suffer too. In general, your overall health condition will show important signals.
As a result, you will start gaining weight. You will probably mess up your metabolism, which is connected to all other systems in your body. Poor eating habits are the main reason why we have excess weight, deal with obesity, and many health problems. That is why it is of the utmost importance to know how to change bad eating habits.
Quality training is not an excuse for bad eating habits
If you are one of those who care about the gym, you must know that quality training will not “undo” all the bad things you have eaten or plan to eat after your training. Training is not a “converter” of junk food into muscle, nor can exercising consume those calories the way you think. Metabolism is very complex, which is why most of these bad foods will be stored again in the form of fat, regardless of training duration or frequency (number of workout sessions per week). In addition, poor eating habits and poor diet will certainly make your training routine much more difficult. You will not have the energy to complete quality workouts and to make complete them in a proper manner. Basically, such training is a real waste of time, money, but also the patience if you exercise with a personal trainer.
And, what then? We know that this kind of information does not sound easy, especially if you are a beginner trying to organize your time, diet, and training, and that the organization of training time alone is a huge success in life. Organizing your diet is certainly a step beyond that and sounds like an impossible mission. That is why we all prefer to learn the lessons the harder way! Listen to this. All you have to do is have some will and imagination when preparing healthier meals. No one is asking you to start exercising and change your diet completely, in one day. If you are not used to having breakfast, drinking sugar-free coffee, or are used to eating sweets and drinking carbonated drinks after lunch, it’s okay, we’re humans. You should adopt good eating habits slowly and get rid of the bad ones at the same time, step by step. As you acquire such healthy habits, you will continue acquiring new ones over time.
The importance of breakfast
Changing your habits is done in small, simple steps. It does take time. You should do it in stages that are acceptable and sustainable for a long period of time and during which there is no abrupt exit from the comfort zone. For example, if you have had a poor, unhealthy diet so far (without any order or plan, eating lots of junk food, etc.), you can start by changing your breakfast routine. Remember that breakfast is the most important meal in a day.
Take a week to prepare your breakfast no matter what your meal plan is. Avoid fried food for breakfast. You definitely do not want to start your day with an increase in bad cholesterol levels! This significantly increases your chances of developing heart disease later in your life. You should consume foods with natural, so-called good fats, such as avocado. Also, you should not drink fruit juices, as they rapidly increase your sugar levels, but eat whole fruits instead (1).
The importance of avoiding starvation
Starvation is another terrible eating habit you must get rid of immediately. It slows down your metabolism (2). This leads to a series of other serious health issues and even disorders. You will experience stomach ache, digestion problems, and might lose appetite completely. On the other hand, some people tend to eat too much during their next meal.
When you do not eat or starve, your body receives signals of danger. It perceives this as a state of lack of food and it responds through a minimized calorie consumption in order to save energy for the days to come. This will not only stop your weight-loss process but might lead to gaining weight too.
A good way to avoid starvation is introducing several small meals in between your breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Unless you like to eat the same meals in the day, healthy snacks have never been a problem, as you can enjoy some natural protein pudding, lean cheese or a protein bar to complement your daily menu.
How to minimize your portions?
There are a few rules important for minimizing your portions. For example, rule No. 1 says that vegetables should cover one half of the plate. Vegetables contain a large amount of water and fiber while being low in calories. This is why it is important during the weight-loss period and changing your bad eating habits. The second rule says that protein is very important. In other words, protein is kind of magical and makes you feel full for a longer period of time. Therefore, eating veggies and protein allows you to minimize your portions as you will get enough energy even with a smaller amount of food. You can find proteins in meat, legumes, boiled eggs, cheese, and fish.
Rule number 3 says you should drink some water one hour before having your meal (2). This is a simple trick to reduce your calorie intake. If you are not really into water then always eat soup or salad before the main course. As a result, you will be eating less food.
Interestingly, the design of your plate is also very important. Surprisingly, there is no need to use smaller plates if you want to lose weight, but you need to take care of the color of the dishes you use. Colors stimulate or reduce the amount of food you will want to eat. However, there is no one plate color that makes people eat less, but the color of the food you eat is also important. There should be a contrast between the color of the food and the color of the plate on which you serve that food. Let’s say, if white carbohydrates are served on a dark plate, you get a great contrast that makes you realize very quickly what your portion is. Without that contrast, you might be eating up to 18 percent more food in a single meal.
Furthermore, you should be focused on the foods you eat if you want to decrease your portions. When you have decided to eat, set the table, sit down and eat. Snacking in front of the TV, and grabbing some food at your desk will lead to eating a lot more than you need to. When you eat quickly, your body does not have time to send you the message that your stomach is already full, which is why you eat more.
Finally, rule number 6 says that you should give yourself room to enjoy. A little bit of chocolate or your favorite dessert will not ruin your whole good eating habit image or your weight loss plan. Fulfill your desires and pamper yourself, as long as it is moderate. Reward yourself for deciding to do something good for your own well-being. You will feel happier, you will be emotionally fulfilled, and you will have no regrets about choosing a healthy lifestyle. conscience. As we lose weight to enjoy life and to be healthy, this will increase your satisfaction. However, if we are out of luck in the process, we can easily start eating too much again. This is why you should be moderate in everything, including restrictions.
Eating quickly is dangerous
How often do you catch yourself eating on the go and hurrying to eat something to make it to your next appointment? Eating while walking usually means eating too fast. It is by no means healthy for your digestion. It takes at least 20 minutes to eat one meal in a regular way that triggers saliva and secretion of the digestive juices (2).
If you eat too fast the signals from your stomach do not tell the brain that you are full and, in most cases, you will eat much more than you should and need. Only 30-60 minutes after a meal can we really be sure whether we are full or not. Therefore, eating quickly is dangerous, as you might choke, obviously, but you also jeopardize your digestive system and might gain too much weight. Take it slow and you will quickly see the benefits of this good eating habit.
The benefits of having a healthy dinner
After the week of adapting to your breakfast plan, while continuing with your newly acquired breakfast habit, devote yourself to planning, preparing, and eating healthy dinners and eating foods that are appropriate for that time of the day. Look for healthy and light dinner recipes, experiment, and try different kinds of meals to learn what you like. No one is forcing you to eat the same dinner or to eat a “salty” dinner if you like to eat natural, healthy sweets at bedtime. There are many healthy and easy dinner recipes that will make your evening routine fun, effortless, and healthy.
How to avoid junk food for lunch?
In the hectic world, we are all trapped in, having a healthy lunch is a challenge. However, it is not impossible. You can replace your junk food of fast food lunch with a healthy, protein, vitamin, and mineral bomb that is not too expensive nor demanding when it comes to preparation (2).
After you get used to eating healthy breakfasts and light dinners, switch to discovering lunch recipes while maintaining the habit of having a quality breakfast and dinner. At lunch, it is very easy to cook a large amount of food and split it into two or three portions and get an extra meal or two from your lunch.
Why is drinking enough water so important?
If you have a bad habit of not drinking enough water, you will quickly lose your energy. If you are feeling exhausted and tired all the time, the problem might be dehydration. Experts warn that even the slightest dehydration leads to a decline in energy that we feel in the form of fatigue. Also, you will easily lose your concentration. Given that our brains are made up of as much as 80 percent fluid, this organ is highly dependent on our intake of water. This means that our concentration drops significantly even at the first signs of dehydration, manifested in the form of a mild sense of thirst, which we often ignore, especially while at work.
Most importantly, if you do not drink enough water, you will constantly feel hunger. A very common thing that occurs to almost everyone who does not drink enough water is replacing their thirst with a strong sense of hunger. This kind of bodily reaction is normal, and you can test it with one glass of water. When you feel the urge to eat some food, before reaching for a snack, drink a full glass of water and wait for 15 to 20 minutes. If it was dehydration, water should kill the false feeling of hunger.
How to stop eating during the night?
Another bad eating habit certainly refers to the midnight snacks. Enjoying sweets and leftovers in the late evening is usually the result of boredom, loneliness, or a way to relieve all the stress that had accumulated during the day. Late meals generally take place in front of the television when the children and other family members are sleeping. This messes up your metabolism and leads to the accumulation of fat, especially on your belly (2).
One way to get rid of this habit or at least make it healthier is to stock up on healthy snacks. Throw out the sweets and replace them with fruit, yogurt, and nuts.
As you can see, the answer to the How to change bad eating habits question is rather complex and it is not a matter of one day, but rather a process. Namely, changing your eating habits is a lifetime task you must embrace. No one changed their habits overnight because it is not about a single meal, but about your diet plan and your behavior, or habits that are repeated every day.
Therefore, if you really want serious changes in your appearance and health, if you want more strength for your everyday tasks, training, and fitness, you must also change your diet and eating habits. Exercising is certainly already one of the quality steps in changing behavior along the way, but it is not the only and final solution, as well as an excuse for poor nutrition, but on the contrary, it should be the first step and a very good reason for changing your eating habits.
The most important habits you should change include eating junk food, starvation, eating during the night, eating large portions of food, and avoiding water, fruits, and veggies. Also, poor choice of food, ingredients, and skipping breakfast are among the greatest enemies of a balanced diet.
Finally, remember one human tip: mistakes happen. Be persistent, remember your goal and try to reach it every day. Just as good training is no excuse for poor nutrition, so is giving up never an option if you have a clearly defined goal. Your final goal should be learning how to change bad eating habits and acquiring new, good ones.
- Sogari G, Velez-Argumedo C, Gómez MI, Mora C. College Students and Eating Habits: A Study Using An Ecological Model for Healthy Behavior. Nutrients. 2018 Nov 23;10(12):1823. doi: 10.3390/nu10121823. PMID: 30477101; PMCID: PMC6315356. Found online on: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6315356/
- Powell HS, Greenberg DL. Screening for unhealthy diet and exercise habits: The electronic health record and a healthier population. Prev Med Rep. 2019 Feb 8;14:100816. doi: 10.1016/j.pmedr.2019.01.020. PMID: 30815334; PMCID: PMC6377403. Found online on: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6377403/