Eating habits refer to how and the reason a person eats, what type of meals they consume as well as how they obtain, store and discard their food. Nevertheless, each person is different, and eating habits may differ per person. If you intend to change your eating habits, here are some concepts to help.
Contemplate and Prioritize
The first step is to assess and prioritize what needs to be changed. You can list your current diet, nutrition and anything that might affect your eating habits. Having a solid plan is the initial process to help in changing your eating habits. You need to be aware of the eating habits you need to change and the reason behind. Aside from these, it would also be helpful to figure out why these habits are present in the first place. List down the factors that contribute to why you are making such bad eating habits. Finally, include the necessary plans on how you are going to change these eating habits into more favourable practices.
The next step is to prepare and set a smart goal. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely. In establishing a goal, one must keep this acronym in mind.
- Your goal should be specific such as losing 12 pounds.
- To make it measurable, ensure that you have a means of mapping it. For instance, utilizing a weighing scale can help verify your goal of losing weight.
- Having an achievable and realistic goal is important, it is never healthy for the mind and your body to set goals that are almost impossible to attain. Remember that it is better to set an achievable goal (because it is realistic) and feel good rather than setting something impossible and end up quitting because of it. Our example of achieving dropping 12 pounds is within reach and is realistic, assuming that you have started at a weight that will enable you to do so. Remember to consult with health experts if the resulting weight in your goal is still within a healthy standard.
- A timely goal means that within a particular time, your goal can be achieved. Whether it takes 3 weeks or 3 months or even years, ensure that your goal is achievable. That is why a careful assessment of your present situation is vital to set your goal.
Limit your Food Intake or Frequency
Intake of foods rich in protein aids in managing weight and in attempting for a healthier eating habits. You should eat more protein which is important in boosting your metabolism, which in turn minimizes your appetite. The metabolic rate is equivalent to the number of calories that you burn while resting. Protein also helps in maintaining strong bones, lowering blood pressure, and also aids in increasing muscle mass. It is recommended to eat 1.5-2.5 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight or 0.7-1.1 grams per pound.
Another way to suppress your appetite is the intake of supplements. The best natural appetite suppressants are those made from natural ingredients such as plant extracts. Some appetite suppressants also have a stimulating effect of increasing the user’s energy, making them more active to burn calories. It is, of course, recommended to read the reviews of these supplements and to consult with your health care provider to assess if these supplements are suitable to your current health conditions.
Start with a Healthy Breakfast
Beginning a day with a healthy meal will benefit you throughout the day. If you are not a breakfast-lover, it is better to do it gradually, in small steps. It is also preferable to eat eggs for your breakfast and not cereals because these are mostly loaded with refined carbohydrates and sugar. Eating carbohydrates and sugar will lead to an increase in blood sugar which then leads to cravings for a more high-carb meal. Instead, eat eggs which are high in protein, healthy fats, and various nutrients. If you do not want to eat eggs, you may try whole-grain cereal with low-fat milk, oats, whole wheat toast and fruits.
Do Not Skip Meals
It is better to eat every meal to not overcompensate on the next meal. However eating every meal means to eating healthily and to replace harmful fats, oils, and carbs in your meals.
Modify your eating habits by replacing bad fats and oils with good fats and oils. Some individuals are unaware that they are already eating trans fat and refined vegetable oils. To help, remember to avoid anything that has “hydrogenated” or “partially hydrogenated” on the food label. Consuming so much vegetable oils may lead to an increase in the inflammation and oxidative damage to your body, which leads to a higher risk of cancer and heart disease. It is better to replace them now with saturated or monounsaturated fats such as avocado oil, coconut oil, grass-fed butter, olive oil, and even whole nuts.
Replace bad carbs, including sugar, refined carbs, and modern wheat. Sugar and refined carbs are very low in nutrients and fiber which leads to overeating. Modern wheat is also low in nutrients and especially worse for celiac patients and gluten-sensitive persons. You can replace them with healthier carbs such as fruits, vegetables, potatoes, and sweet potatoes. For healthier grains, it is better to choose oats, rice, and quinoa. You can also choose legumes if you can tolerate it.
Healthy Snack and Lunch
You can eat a healthy lunch by cooking a healthy dinner at home, and then, bring the leftovers for lunch the next day. Although there are fast food establishments that offer healthy food, it is ideal to list down these establishments and create a reminder in your calendar to help you change your eating habits. For healthy snacks, you can always choose fruits such as a piece of banana or apple. You can also eat a handful of nuts or even hard-boiled eggs and even a bag of baby carrots which are all portable to bring at your work or at school.
Avoid Processed Food
Cut out your appetite for eating processed foods and replace them with complete natural food-based meals. You can start clearing your pantry of cereals, flour, pastries, processed foods, soda, and sugars. Start looking for food that has quality ingredients, focus on quality sources of animal foods, and if you can find grass-fed meats, the better. Avoid any food that has artificial ingredients and start eating quality produce. Start reading food labels and practice on how to become familiar with lists of ingredients. You do not need to be paranoid about it; you must learn to read and become aware of everything that you put into your mouth.
Drink Water and Limit Intake of Sweetened Beverages
It is best to eradicate your consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages and fruit juices. Sugar in liquid form is harmful since it can increase the risk of obesity. The human brain does not register the calories of dissolved sugar in the same way that it records calories from other foods, especially when the brain is controlling the energy balance of the body. You will just end up taking more sodas which leads to a higher chance of getting obese.
If you are thirsty, it is best to drink water. Drink water throughout the day and with the practice of drinking water, you will soon lose your taste and longing for the taste of sodas or flavoured beverages.
Meat and Fish for Dinner
Start eating meat or fish plus nutritious vegetables during dinner. Dinner time is the easiest meal to include plenty of vegetables, but you can still combine them with starches like rice or potatoes. Also, try to eat fatty fish at least twice a week to gain some super healthy Omega-3s, or you can supplement your diet with fish oil if you do not eat fatty fish.
Increase your Activity Level
Match your carb intake to your activity levels and metabolic health. Because carbs are a popular and controversial nutrient, your optimal carb intake will depend on yourself. Your carb intake should depend on your activity levels, food culture, metabolic health, and personal preference. An example is a lean and healthy individual who lifts weights weekly should need lots of carbs versus an overweight individual who does not exercise will be needing a low-carb diet.
Changing your eating habits will not be fruitful if you do not exercise. Just start moving and find some activity that you will enjoy and just continue doing it. Aside from preventing diseases, exercise is also very important for your physical and mental health. This is the partner of eating habits because exercising alone without changing your eating habits will not lead to significant weight loss and vice versa. Exercise is also good for your mood, well-being, and also against depression. Find time to exercise by simply walking for just ten minutes.
Adequate Sleep and Reducing Stress
Changing your eating habits should also be combined with proper sleeping habits and avoidance of stress as much as possible. Your sleeping habits will have a significant effect on your health as well as your level of stress. Studies have shown that inadequate sleep is heavily connected to many serious diseases which include obesity. A short amount of sleep is connected to a 55% increased risk of obesity in adults and 89% in children. If you want to improve your sleeping habits, you can do this by avoiding caffeine in the afternoon and evening. You can also try to sleep in a completely dark room and attempt to maintain a consistent sleep schedule.
Changing your eating habits will not be effective if you have chronic stress. Excessive levels of stress will also raise the level of your hormone cortisol which, in turn, can increase your chances of gaining a lot of fat in the abdominal cavity. Anxiety is tough to deal with and if you feel stressed, try to avoid eating processed and unhealthy foods. Since most individuals are overwhelmed with various duties and worries, meditation can be helpful. Practice stress management and find ways that will work as your destresser. Unwind and relax but not on harmful foods that will just alleviate your stress level.
Commitment to your Goal of Changing Eating Habits
Make a commitment to accomplishing your goal. This is a lifelong endeavour because your purpose of changing eating habits can easily be destroyed when there are temptations. You must try to make health and nutrition into a habit. To motivate and keep your commitment, you can subscribe to health blogs or read health-related books. Also remember to be health-conscious for the remainder of your life, if you want to live longer. If you want to look better and lessen the chances of having chronic diseases in your old age, start changing your eating habits now. Improving your eating habits and correcting them will be intimidating at first, but once you start doing it and practice it daily, you will feel good about it.
Change is quite tricky at the beginning. Even more challenging is breaking our attitude and practice with regards to eating. However, the adage slowly but surely is very much applicable to improving eating habits. First, admit and identify the bad eating habits you have before setting a smart goal to accomplish. You can make a mini goal for each week then gradually change the way you eat by replacing unhealthy meals with natural and healthier eats. Start clearing your pantry from processed foods and those unhealthy snacks. Remember to eat every meal to avoid overeating, but also limit your food intake and frequency. Start replacing your usual carbonated or flavoured drinks with water and drink throughout the day. It is also helpful to keep a food and activity diary to note your food intake and the activity you have performed. Do remember that sleep and exercise also help in your route to changing your eating habits. With enough sleep, stress levels are decreased, and your craving for unhealthy foods will be limited. A relaxed body and mind will also push you to exercise, which aids in a healthier eating habits and lifestyle!