Bad eating habits can be a vicious circle. For someone whose relationship with food is conflictual, bad eating habits can take a toll on their life. Healthy people eat because they’re hungry, they take great pleasure in the activity, and stop eating as soon as they’re full. But let’s face it, most people don’t range in this category.
A lot of people (me included, sadly), overeat themselves into a food coma more often that they’d like to admit. They eat because they’re bored, they eat because they’re sad, they eat because that’s the only way they can feel better without facing what’s wrong with their lives (basically, they eat their feelings, as we say).
Breaking bad eating habits can be a long, hard path, but it is definitely worth it. Your relationship with food doesn’t just define your eating schedule, and how skinny or how fat you are; it defines your life, because that’s how important food is to human beings.
According to research, breaking a habit can take as long as 254 days, but don’t worry, the average is actually 66 days. For this, you of course need motivation, discipline, and good circumstances.
For example, you can’t expect yourself to have healthy snacks if all what you have at home is junk food that’s the “circumstances” part.
So, because we care about you, and want you to be the healthiest version of yourself, we’re sharing with you these tips that will help you break your bad eating habits.
If you snack a lot, here’s what to do
If you’re a little bit like me, then you can’t watch a movie or binge-watch your favorite Netflix show without downing a whole pack of chips, cookies, chocolate, of all of those at the same time (happens when you're a hardcore snacker).
The thing is, when you snack while watching TV or scrolling down time-consuming apps like Facebook or Instagram (or looking up your next date on Tinder, i don't judge), you are not focused on your meal.
This means that you end up looking track of just how much food you are really consuming. So, my first advice would be not to eat while doing another activity that takes most of your focus away. But, if you can't do that, then try to snack on healthier food.
Instead of having another pack of chips, ice-cream, or cookies, snack on something better for your body and mind such as olives, nuts, dried fruits etc...Those can be just as tasty as a candy bar, better for your health, and even more filling.
If you eat when you’re bored
Boredom munching is the worst kind of munching, because you expect food to save you from your life. I would know, I used to boredom-eat a lot, and it’s definitely taken a toll on my body.
Boredom eating is dangerous because your mind tricks you into thinking that you’re hungry, while you’re merely bored. Here are two tips that personally helped me get over my boredom eating syndrome (that's not its real name, i just invented it):
- If I feel bored and know that I’m going to end up eating something unhealthy, I drink water or green tea instead. This one has helped a lot, and well, now I’m never dehydrated.
- If I feel like eating something but I’m not sure if I’m hungry or just bored, I wait ten minutes. If it persists, then it’s hunger and I need to eat. If not, then good for me, because it was just boredom. Normally, hunger that comes from boredom fades after ten minutes or so, so just be patient.
If you’d rather eat your feelings than address them
Sometimes, we like being immature (I know I do), and instead of going through our feelings and understand them, we prefer eating them.
This is known as emotional eating, and can happen when you're sad, depressed, anxious, nervous, bored, or stressed. when you do this, not only do you deny your emotions, you also hurt your body, gain more weight, and just make yourself overall more miserable.
One tip to get over this is to use a non-food mood booster:
go out, take a walk, talk to a friend, watch an episode of your favorite show, or read a chapter of a book. There are so many things that can help you feel better without making you gain weight or lose shape.
If you only eat junk food
We all love junk food, that’s a fact. The human brain is programmed to love anything that’s fat or sweet, because it is a quick source of energy for your body. Basically, your brain is sabotaging itself and we can do nothing about it if we keep complaining.
Take action and just stop buying junk food.
As a freelance writer and digital nomad, I don’t have an office, and mostly work wherever I’m staying (be it home, a hotel room, an apartment I’m renting, or a coworking space/hostel).
I used to buy all kinds of junk food, because I can be weak (and dumb) sometimes. I had a sedentary style of life. Sure, I travelled a lot and worked from everywhere, but that meant staying in the whole day and only moving when I needed to go to the bathroom or to grab a quick snack (now that i'm writing this, it sounds like prison).
I gained 10 KG in a few months, and that’s when I decided that I was too young and way too full of life to become a couch potato.
The first thing I did was planning my groceries list: once I had a list, I was less tempted to buy junk food while in the supermarket. Of course, I didn’t ban all junk food, I need my fix from time to time, but instead of making it a habit, I turned it into an exception.
Once I had started eating more healthily, I started feeling more energy and went back to my workout routine. Hell, I even picked up Yoga!
And you know what? It worked. I don’t eat as much junk food as I did anymore, I’m more energetic, happier, less stressed, and most importantly, I am healthier.
If your diet needs a fix
You know what they say: ''breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dine like a pauper''.And they’re not wrong, research has shown that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, which is why you should have all kinds of nutrients in it, from lipids to carbohydrates to vitamins.
On the other side, dinner should be lighter, and eaten 3 hours before going to sleep. A healthy dinner should contain greens, lean proteins (like turkey breast for example), protein,whole grains etc...
If you don’t know where to start, here are some simple recipes to get you inspired.
In the end
Remember, breaking a habit takes time, so don’t expect to wake up one day craving brocolis instead of a chocolate bar without making some effort.
Also, know that a healthy diet should never feel like a punishment for gaining weight, but a new way of life. You can always have a candy bar or some cookies, just do like the French: have a taste of everything, but eat moderately.
I mean, one or two parts of pizza won’t hurt you *wink wink*.