You can break your bad eating habits, one step at a time. Here, simple solutions for the 7 most common bad eating habits.
- Make a plan and stick to it. Consuming the same simple, locally grown or organic foods week to week will help prevent you from resorting to last-minute fast-food (and unhealthy) meals. Avoid using treats, such as ice cream or other sweets, as a reward for a hard day.
- Don't munch on the run. Our brains feel gypped if we aren't mindful of the food we're eating. Make a point to eat breakfast and dinner at a table as often as possible. Otherwise, you may end up conditioning yourself to eat anytime, anyplace -- like when you're lying on the couch watching TV.
- Avoid noshing in the car. You can quickly become trained to eat whenever you're behind the wheel. Plus, it's harder to keep track of what you're eating if you're driving and munching.
- Have a healthy snack, like fruits and veggies, 30 minutes before you eat a meal. It can take as long as half an hour for fullness signals to travel from the stomach to the brain. The sooner you start eating, the sooner your belly will get the message to your brain that you've had enough food.
- Downsize your dishes. Unless our plates are full, we tend to feel cheated, like we haven't eaten enough. So use a dessert dish for your entree.
- Bust your eating triggers. If watching your favorite reality show triggers a craving for bowlfuls of your favorite snack, give up eating in front of the TV.
- Exercise, exercise, exercise. It will help you maintain a healthy weight, and it can prevent compulsive eating because, like food, it produces stress relief and a feeling of well-being.
NOTE: If you find yourself lying about how much food you're eating, hiding food, or frequently eating enough to feel uncomfortable, you may need to seek professional help. A good place to start: Overeaters Anonymous (www.oa.org).
Originally published on FitnessMagazine.com, July 2008.