As far as food habits go, they’re one of the most crucial aspects of overall health, so it’s important that good ones are made part of your lifestyle from a young age. A lot of this down to how a person is raised in the context of food and portion sizes, but change can almost always be implemented at any stage of a person’s life. Follow these tips for healthy food habits, and you may find it a bit easier when you’re trying to drop those few extra pounds.
Watching what you eat is probably the single most important food habit you can have. Preservatives, pesticides, artificial sweeteners, nitrates and other chemical compounds, and substances like trans fats and monosodium glutamate are all unnecessary. Your diet should be as natural and organic as possible: fresh fruits and vegetables, lean meat and protein, a moderate quantity of whole grains and starches, and a bit of healthy fat for joint and organ lubrication. Junk food comes in many forms ranging from takeaway restaurants to commercially packaged snacks, and is your worst enemy as far as food habits are concerned. Fast food is especially likely to be habit-forming, with dozens of studies linking popular restaurants and addiction.
And as much as you need to watch what you eat, you also have to keep an eye on how much of it you consume. Excessive protein can create an imbalance in the body, causing weight gain and kidney related issues, especially when combined with inadequate hydration. Too many fruits and veggies (there is such a thing) can create a fibre overload in the digestive tract, leading to frequent bowel movements and a drop in nutrient absorption. Consuming more carbohydrates and fat than are required is a quick way to gain weight, especially in the dangerous visceral zone around your vital organs. Again, balance is the key.
All this becomes a lot tougher if you decide to watch a movie or television while you eat. Doing so will distract your mind from the task at hand refuelling the body and cause you to miss when the brain sends out the signal that the stomach has had enough. In fact, avoid doing anything other than eating when you’ve got a meal in front of you. Some light conversation is fine, but the more you concentrate on what’s on your plate, the likelier you are to stick to the appropriate portion size. On a related note, try to eat before you go out so that you aren’t tempted to give in to cravings and temptations. This is especially advisable before a trip to the movie theatre or supermarket, where things are designed to make you want what’s on offer.
The pace at which you eat and what you eat it from are also crucial to forming good food habits. Have you ever opened a bag of chips while reading a book or watching TV, only to realise a few minutes later that you’ve finished most (if not all) of them? Eating straight out of a container or packaging is almost guaranteed to make you exceed the serving size, so always eat a limited portion from a bowl or plate. It is also advisable to avoid wolfing down your food, even if you’re ravenously hungry. Taking your time and chewing well makes you more likely to stick to how much your body needs rather than how much your mind wants.
Don’t eat when you aren’t hungry, and don’t feel compelled to finish what’s on your plate. Allowing or forcing yourself to eat more than you should will not only shoot your caloric intake beyond the ideal level, but it will also form a long-term habit of constantly wanting more. Forming good food habits is not an overnight procedure. It takes time, especially if you are already prone to some of the vices mentioned above. Keep working at it, don’t get discouraged if you face a setback, and remember to exercise discipline. In the meanwhile, keep away from those buffets!