The top 10 bad food habits and how to break them

The top 10 bad food habits and how to break them

The 10 top bad food habits and mistakes  
  1. Too many sugary treats! 
  2. Barely eating during the day but eating a lot in the evening 
  3. Hidden sugar consumption 
  4. Over-eating “diet” or “low fat” foods 
  5. Consuming too much artificial sweetener 
  6. Drinking extra calories 
  7. Not drinking enough water 
  8. Avoiding fat 
  9. Too little protein 
  10. Not eating your veges 


Bad Food Habit #1: Too many sugary treats! 

Jam on your toast, a muffin for morning tea, lollies or soft drink post-lunch, choccy after dinner, a teaspoon of sweetener in your tea… phew, that’s a lot of immune-crushing, nutrient-leaching, wrinkle-creating SUGAR! This addictive little beastie is your body’s worst enemy. Recent studies show that at least 40% of the sugar we put in our bodies is immediately stored as fat. Therefore, lay off the white stuff to see immediate results. The good news? After only five days of eliminating sugar your body stops craving it almost entirely, so suffer through those first few days, and you’ll be a new person. 


Bad Food Habit #2: Barely eating during the day but eating a lot in the evening 

Barely eating during the day and eating a lot in the evening is one of the biggest mistakes you can make. Our metabolism is fired up during the day, ready to help with energy needs. The body needs to transport more energy to muscles and organs during the day when they are needed more, however at night the metabolism lowers and this energy is stored instead (yep, you guessed it, as fat). Eating this way will also affect sleep for you because your body has to work to digest food as you’re resting. So, if either weight loss, or better sleep and more energy are essential to you, it’s best to eat during the day and restrict eating a few hours (ideally 2-3) before going to bed. 


Bad Food Habit #3: Hidden sugar consumption 

Usually, when someone thinks of consuming sugar, they think of adding sugar to coffee, drinking soda, or eating lollies and chocolate. However, avoidable sugar is in a lot of other everyday items, such as gum, sauces (like tomato sauce and sweet chilli sauce), jams, salad dressing, fruit juices, cereal, energy and breakfast bars, low-fat milk, packaged foods, dried fruit, ‘health’ treats and so much more. If you are eating any of these items or other packaged foods with more than one ingredient, make sure you check the sugar content. As a guide, if per 100g an item has 15g or more of sugar, that’s pretty high. If it contains around 10g, that’s not too bad. If it has less than 5g, that’s pretty great! 


Bad Food Habit #4: Over-eating “diet” or “low fat” foods 

Just because a product is meant for dieting or has the words “diet” or “low fat” on the label, doesn’t mean it’s a great food to eat, or that over-consumption of it is OK. Remember, these are still packaged, fake foods and are not likely to have much nutrition. Neither are they likely to truly satisfy you. Research shows that if a product is advertised as “low calorie”, “diet”, or “low fat”, consumers are likely to eat up to three times as much as they would the regular version. If you enjoy these things occasionally, great, but if you regularly eat low fat/diet foods, kick them to the curb. The full-fat version is better for you and won’t leave you craving more. 


Bad Food Habit #5: Consuming too much artificial sweetener 

OK so Coke’s off limits, but your daily Coke Zero is OK, right? It has no calories, and it sorts out that post-lunch sugar craving, so you figure it must be a better option than chocolate, or that sweet cup of tea? Actually, no. Artificial sweeteners can interfere with your metabolism and hormones and will only fuel your carb cravings. Recent studies have found that artificial sweeteners can lead to weight gain! So put that nasty sugar-free treat down and if you’re looking for a sweet drink, grab a freshly squeezed veggie juice with beetroot, which is a sweet veggie and also helps with liver detoxification. 


Bad Food Habit #6: Drinking extra calories 

When we eat a big meal, our body knows it’s being fed, and we eat less at the next meal. But that doesn’t happen when we drink high-calorie beverages, which are estimated to add about 235 extra (empty) calories a day to our diets, at a bare minimum! Our bodies don’t seem to register liquid calories the way they do solid calories. So even after guzzling a jumbo-size soda at the movies, we don’t eat less when it’s time to eat again. Coffee, fruit drinks, sodas, energy drinks and alcohol are some of the biggest calorie traps. Alcohol is actually doubly so because drinking relaxes our willpower. Have a few cocktails and suddenly having that slice of cheesecake seems like a pretty good idea. If you must have coffee, drink it black with a dash of honey. Really can’t give up soft drink? Instead of your afternoon coke, choose soda water and add just a bit of fruit juice for all the fizz and less of the nasties. Love alcohol? Choose red wine and sip on one glass (slowly) all night, sipping on water in between mouthfuls.  


Bad Food Habit #7: Not drinking enough water 

If you aren’t drinking at least 1.5L of water each day (and ideally more than 2L), it’s likely your body is super dehydrated, leading to poor performance, less mental clarity and mixed appetite signals, let alone tired skin. The next time you feel hungry, try taking a big, long drink of water and you may even find that’s all your body was craving. The hormones in our intestines, which tell us we’re hungry, are very similar to the hormones that let us know we’re thirsty, so humans are not very good at distinguishing hunger from thirst. This is why we typically reach for food when we should be drinking up instead – hunger pangs can sometimes be your body screaming for a little extra H2O. Also, when we’re not well hydrated, our metabolism drags because water is a crucial part of the calorie burning process, as well as the detoxification process. So, you’ll burn more calories and feel fresher too! 


Bad Food Habit #8: Avoiding fat 

You believe fat will make you fat, so you shun it in every form. Science and countless studies have proven that good fats are our friend, but many people still see it as public enemy number one in their battle to stay lean. Good fats lower cholesterol, aid vitamin absorption, assist digestion, boost your immune system, help to shift stubborn fat from the body and regulate the metabolism. And since the body will start to call on fat once its carbohydrate stores are empty, dietary fat gains new importance. Know the difference between the fats that are right for you (monounsaturated, polyunsaturated, and omega-3s) and the ones that can harm your health (some saturated and all trans fats). Include good fats by adding them to the naturally low-fat foods you already eat – use olive oil on top of your salad greens, eat avocado with mustard as a snack, smear almond or other nut butter on apples or celery stalks, and stir-fry your veggies in rapeseed oil and eat oily fish. Note that some oils turn into trans-fat when you cook with them (e.g., olive oil) so best to add them after you cook or use oils like grapeseed or coconut oil. 


Bad Food Habit #9: Too little protein 

When we crave foods, we always seem to crave carbohydrate-rich foods, rather than theirhigh protein counterparts but if you want to be successful with weight loss, you must take in enough protein. Protein is the nutrient that is going to help maintain your lean body mass and keep your metabolism humming along. Great sources of protein are fish, beef, lamb, chicken or turkey breast, eggs, nuts, as well as some organic dairy products like full-fat yoghurt, or cottage cheese. 


Bad Food Habit #10: Not eating your veges 

If you’re not eating veggies with most of your meals per day, you’re in trouble! Make sure you’re getting a variety of colourful veg in every single day. We mean it! Veges at breakfast might sound like a stretch, but its easy to add veges to a smoothie mix, and when reducing grains & starches, a vege-filled omelette or frittata makes for the perfect nourishing start to the day. Healthy vege and lean protein is the ultimate combo! 


Ready to break those bad-food habits? 

Set up a food diary for a week. All you need to do is to note down everything you eat each day and how you feel after eating it. Once you’ve been keeping a food diary for a week it’s time to bring those pages out and read them.  This objective view of your unconscious eating habits might come as a surprise, but with knowledge comes power to identify problem areas and make changes.  

Remember if you’re trying to lose weight your goal should be to reach a healthy, comfortable size and maintain it, not drastic weight loss. This requires systematic lifestyle changes, so make sure you apply your newfound knowledge not just now, but ongoing.


By Chief Nutrition

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