The foods you eat are necessary for various bodily functions. Without foods for a long period of time will put the body in a shutdown mode. However, bodily functions do not only rely on the number of foods but on the quality of foods. Not eating the right kind of foods have a drastic effect on the body. Unhealthy eating habits can affect the metabolic processes leading to a variety of health conditions. Without proper nourishment, the body could be undernourished, overweight, and certain conditions could appear like diabetes, arthritis, and heart diseases.
The effects of foods in the body
The body relies on the foods you eat. The nutrients in the food are foods for the cells. Without the necessary nutrients, cells won’t be able to perform their functions. Growth, development, and maintenance of the body rely on the food’s nutrients. If the cells are deprived of nutrients, metabolic processes will slow down or even stop. However, cell nutrition does not solely rely on calories or grams. It goes beyond that. Which is why it is important to focus not only on the number of foods but on the quality of foods. It is not enough to eat more. What matters the most if you eat nutritious foods. (1)
Food, disease, and their connection
Many diseases, especially in highly developed countries have something to do with someone’s diet. It is not about food deprivation, but more of nutrient deprivation. People in highly developed countries are living a fast-paced life. Everything is instant including their foods. Certain disease conditions are now attributed to various biological dysfunctions such as diabetes mellitus type 2, obesity, cardiac-related diseases, stroke, and some types of cancer. These conditions were previously linked with a single gene mutation. However, further studies revealed that these conditions are partly related to diet.
Hence, it is important to pay particular attention to what you eat. If you have been overweight, underweight, or suffering from conditions like diabetes, cardiac-related diseases, stroke, and the likes, you need to think of ways on how to change eating habits. Who knows maybe it is all you need to win back your health. Medicines are important but they can only do so much. What matters the most is you take proactive steps to lead a healthy lifestyle and it all begins with changing your eating habits. As the line goes, “you are what you eat.” (2)
20 recommended ways to change eating habits
Keep your kitchen clean
Being in a cluttered kitchen will make you eat more and the craving will be more in the unhealthy stuff such as instant foods. On the other hand, people with a clean kitchen choose healthy snacks like fruits and vegetables. It does not only apply in the kitchen but in any spaces where chaos thrives such as in the unorganized office and workplace. You can change your eating habits by keeping things organized and in order, be it in the kitchen, office, workplace, or bedroom. By doing so, you will be able to avoid unnecessary snacking. (4)
Hide the foods you crave
You tend to eat more if foods are readily accessible. It is easy to snack on chips and chocolates if they are just within reach. One of the ways on how to change eating habits is to make sure you hide the things you crave. Ditch the candies, chips, and chocolates on your countertops. Ditch that soda in your fridge. If you can’t see them, you will not be tempted to eat them. Get rid of junk foods. Well, they are not really junk because they are loaded with salt and calories. But keep in mind that too much salt can damage the kidneys and too many calories lead to obesity. The goal here is to stay away from foods that may sabotage your health.
Focus on produce
How to change eating habits the most effective way is to reorganize your pantry. Store healthy foods in your pantry such as fresh produce. You can put a fruit bowl and every time you feel hungry, snack on them. If you are looking for something salty, you can eat egg rolls. They are a healthier snack when compared with chips and sweets. (5)
Limit your intake of foods when binge-watching your favorite TV series
If you are a couch potato chances are you also love to binge eat. You are so engrossed with the show that you lose track of what you eat and how much you eat. The soda, pizza, chips, and fries you eat while watching TV can lead to excessive weight gain.
Change the size of your plate
Here’s the catch – If you put foods on a bigger plate, the food looks smaller. Chances are, you are going to put a lot of food leading to overeating. On the flip side, a smaller plate makes small food portions appear bigger. It tricks your mind that you are consuming a large portion of calories. By changing the size of your plate, you will be able to cut down the food serving and consumption by up to 22%.
Use a smaller glass
You will be tempted to drink more than you should if you are going to drink using a bigger glass. Soft drinks, juices, and other drinks containing a high amount of sugar can all lead to unnecessary weight gain. So, you have to use a smaller glass to unconsciously limit your intake. Use bigger glasses only if you are drinking water.
Create a meal plan
One of the effective ways on how to change eating habits is by creating a meal plan. By planning your meal, you will gain optimal control over your food intake and health as a whole.
Have eating rituals
Bad eating habits are usually a result of living in a non-patterned environment. They say that life is boring if you live the same way every day. Well, this is not the case when it comes to food intake. If you have eating rituals or patterns, you will be able to safeguard not only your weight but your overall well-being. Eating rituals are mindful eating. Eating patterns include eating a full meal during the day and less at night. As the line of the famous American author and nutritionist, Adelle Davis, “Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper. (6)
Find your motivation
You will be enticed to stick to changing your eating habits if you are motivated. One of the motivations to stick to healthy eating habits is for better health. Other reasons include preparation for a big event such as a wedding, class reunions, beach vacation, and the likes. Many people have motivations but once they cross it the determination to eat healthily and lose weight stops.
Staying fit and achieving better health should be enough motivation to keep you going. After all, we only have one body and it is high time to pay attention to what your body is telling you. If you feel something is wrong with your body, then it is time to watch what you eat. Be mindful of your eating behavior. Change your eating habits if you must and you will surely live a healthy life.
Develop the habit of cooking at home
Dining out may cause you to eat more than usual. After all, restaurant foods are designed that way – they stimulate your appetite and senses so that you will eat more. To keep your appetite in check, you should develop the habit of cooking meals at home. You’ll be able to choose the ingredients, control what you eat, and keep track of the calories. (3)
Have ample time for sleep
Spending a late night watching TV or working late at night may lead to unnecessary food craving. Those who are sleep deprived are prone to craving foods we think would give us energy. You can cut unnecessary food cravings by sleeping at least seven hours a day.
Make it a habit to add frozen vegetables
Vegetables are good for your health, especially greens and leafy ones. Always add greens to your diet such as a healthy salad for meals and fruits for snacks. It may be quite difficult, especially for people who are not used to eating vegetables. But if you really want to cut bad eating habits, then you have to train yourself to eat veggies. By doing so, you are not only changing bad eating habits, but you are also doing something good for your health.
Use healthy sugar substitutes
A lot of people have a sweet tooth. Sweets are tempting and if you want to learn how to change eating habits, the first thing to do is to cut down on sweets. However, it does not necessarily mean you won’t be eating sweet foods anymore. All you have to do is to find a healthy substitute for sugar. Instead of using refined sugar as sweetener, you can use stevia or coco sugar. If you are fond of drinking coffee, you should ditch the creamer and substitute it with unsweetened almond milk. You will achieve the same level of taste but with less sugar and calories. (10)
Ditch frying and switch to steaming
Frying adds a different kind of aroma and flavor to the meat. However, frying may add unhealthy stuff to the meat, especially if you are going to use palm or vegetable oil for frying. Instead of frying meat why not switch to steaming? It is a healthier way of cooking your foods.
Switch from processed to whole foods
Processed foods have too much salt, sugar, and calories in it. Instead of eating highly processed foods, why not switch to whole foods? They may have calories but are packed with nutritional values. Examples are beans, whole grains, and fruits.
Drink enough water
Water is life. It is important for your health and well-being. Water can safeguard your health. It aids in weight loss by increasing the number of calories you burn. Drinking water before a meal can reduce your appetite, which could lessen your calorie intake. Those who drink enough water consume fewer calories than those who don’t drink much water. To help change your eating habits, you should make it a point to carry a bottle of water with you. If you find plain water boring, you might want to consider adding lemon wedges, cucumber, and mint.
Do not skip breakfast
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Your breakfast should be loaded with calories and protein to give you ample energy to get going through the day. If you are dieting, the more you need to eat breakfast so as to avoid unnecessary snacking throughout the day. Your power breakfast should include eggs, oatmeal, granola, fruits, and whole-grain bread. (9)
Replace chips with yogurt
Snacking should be avoided if you are taking proactive steps on how to change eating habits. If you can’t avoid snacking, then at least replace unhealthy snacks with healthy ones such as replacing chips and fries with yogurt. According to Harvard University, yogurt is one of the top weight loss promoting foods. It is rich in protein, low in carbs, and high in probiotics, which is perfect for people who are trying to lose weight.
Eat at a slow pace
How soon you finish your food can significantly affect the number of foods you eat and the likelihood of gaining weight. In fact, those who eat at a fast pace are more likely to gain weight than slow eaters. How much you eat and what kind of food you eat is determined by your hormones. They send a signal to the brain whenever they are full or hungry. However, it would take some time for the brain to receive such signals.
If you eat at a slow pace, you are giving your brain the time it needs to perceive the signal – indicating that you are already full. So, eating at a slow pace can greatly reduce the number of calories you consume every meal. Every time you eat, you have to chew slowly and savor every bite. By doing so, you can avoid eating too much and prevent excessive weight gain. (8)
Increase your protein intake
One of the important parts of changing eating habits is to include protein in your day to day diet. Protein is the king of nutrients because of its superpower. It can have a direct impact on your hunger and satiety hormones. Of all macronutrients, protein is the most filling. You can dramatically reduce your calorie intake by increasing protein in your diet. It plays an important role in retaining muscle mass.
More so, it increases the rate of metabolism, which is perfect for people who are trying to lose weight. Those who are trying to lose weight are highly encouraged to increase their protein intake so that fat loss will be replaced by lean muscles thereby preventing skin sagging. The ideal sources of proteins are lean meat, eggs, beans and nuts, dairy products, and peanut butter. (7)
How to change eating habits?
This is a question that got a lot of answers. As the famous saying goes, old habits are hard to break. Well, this is true to everything including eating habits. True enough, it is really difficult to change the ways you are accustomed to doing. Overhauling your diet all at once is difficult. It would be a perfect recipe for disaster. Changing eating habits takes time. It takes baby steps, motivation, and determination. Do not be too harsh on yourself. Even the smallest changes matter.
Consistency is one of the secrets to successfully changing your eating habits. You can change your diet even in the smallest way possible because small consistent steps are signs of progress. If you are having a hard time changing your eating habits, then you might want to consider asking help from nutritionists or dietitians.
The foods you eat can greatly affect not only your health but life as a whole. Switching to healthy eating habits can help you achieve optimum health and prevent various forms of diseases, especially the dreadful ones like hypertension, diabetes mellitus type 2, cardiac-related diseases, stroke, and some types of cancer. You are what you eat and so it is a must to develop a healthy eating habit.