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Unhealthy Eating Habits and How to Counter Them

The food we eat undoubtedly impacts our overall physical condition. Poor diet and unhealthy eating habits can lead to chronic health conditions such as high blood pressure, lower back and joint pain, and high cholesterol levels. A recent study found that one in five deaths globally is associated with poor diet. This is a lamentable statistic given the wealth of information available that allows the population to create healthier eating choices.

woman holding an apple and bitten donut
Image source: Pexels

Achieving a healthy body requires a solid commitment to overcome bad lifestyle habits you’ve developed over time. Consciously making better food choices helps you keep your health in check, avoid developing diseases, and achieve your fitness goals. That being said, here are three unhealthy eating habits you should start changing today:

Eating sugary cereals for breakfast

Breakfast cereals are often found in the crossfire between added sugar and refined grains. Apart from being calorie-dense, they also contain minimal to no nutrients. Despite being a convenient and quick breakfast choice for people on the go, chances are, your cereal is closer to dessert than breakfast. Most boxed cereals in the market are frosted or coated and contain almost 20 grams of sugar for every 100-gram serving. In addition, most cereal brands come in super-size snack packages that make you subconsciously eat larger servings.

While it’s essential to have sugar in your diet, consuming too much can lead to cardiometabolic diseases such as diabetes and stroke, which is why it’s much better to eat healthier whole grains such as oatmeal or whole wheat bread in the morning to fill you up for longer. If you want a quicker option, prepare overnight oats or chia pudding the night before and top with greek yogurt, fruits, and nuts in the morning. Doing this is a much better way to keep you fuller for longer while adding more nutrients to your breakfast.

Relying solely on calorie counting

Calorie counting is one of the many strategies to help with weight loss. The process behind it is simple—you lose weight when you eat fewer calories than what you burn in a day through physical and metabolic activities. Although calorie counting can be a good tool to track the food you consume, it does not capture the quality of your nutrition. It also does not do much to curb unhealthy eating habits.

Nutrition is infinitely complex, with many potential strategies. One such strategy is food tracking, which science shows is still the best way to approach weight loss programs. A sustainable weight loss strategy emphasizes making healthier choices and eating more nutritious foods, and you can do so by tracking the food you intake and analyzing its nutritional value. You can also create a weekly grocery list that considers all the macro- and micronutrients your body needs to stay fit. Likewise, having an individually-tailored fitness program could help map out a daily meal strategy that allows you to improve your food choices and minimize unhealthy cravings.

Eating ultra-processed food

Most packaged food and snacks in the market are laden with salt, refined sugar, additives, and preservatives that can harm your body. Americans have sacrificed their health for convenience and speed through pre-prepared meals, mass-produced bread, sodas, and sweetened beverages. Consuming these highly-processed food items on a daily basis increases one’s risk of colorectal cancer, the third leading cause of death in adults in the United States.

Reducing your intake or eliminating these foods from your diet is one of the most effective ways to improve your health. Healthy snacks such as fresh fruit, mixed nuts, edamame, and hummus can help keep cravings for junk food at bay. Trading sugary beverages for water is also an excellent way to fill you up and reduce your intake of processed foods. Practice mindful eating by making simple swaps such as removing hotdogs and ham from your grocery list and adding less processed varieties of meat, such as fresh chicken, salmon, or turkey.

Change isn’t always easy, especially when it comes to long-established diet habits. Fortunately, changing these three habits can help you build a healthier nutritional foundation, deal with your cravings, and keep you in control of your diet and lifestyle.

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