Some of your daily habits may be hindering your health or weight loss goals. Little things you do throughout the day can either propel you forward or take you back a step, and either way, they add up over time. Consider the following 5 bad habits to determine whether a few easy changes will help you get back on track.
1. Skipping Breakfast
You might think that skipping breakfast would help you cut calories, but the research says that eating breakfast can better help you lose weight. Breakfast eaters tend to weigh less and are more successful at losing weight—and keeping it off—than those who skip the meal. What’s more, people who typically eat breakfast also get more fiber, calcium, vitamins A and C, riboflavin, zinc and iron—and less fat and dietary cholesterol. Perhaps it’s because they often eat cereal, which is fortified with vitamins and minerals, and fruit, which is naturally nutrient-rich. Eating breakfast doesn’t have to be the first thing you do each day. Just make sure that when you do eat, your meal is something that will sustain you for a few hours—it should include some fiber and protein.
2. Having Too Much Junk Food
An addiction to junk food is just something that gets harder and harder to avoid as people get older. With less and less time on your hands, it’s easier to get a hold of food that’s really bad for you as opposed to something healthy. Fast food, vending machines and microwave meals can satisfy your hunger pangs, but they are also filled with foods high in calories and sodium that can lead to health complications like heart disease and too much “bad” cholesterol, also known as HDL cholesterol.
3. Nighttime Eating
Diet folklore suggests that eating at night is almost never a good idea if you want to lose weight. Although many experts say this old adage is pure myth, a new animal study backs up the idea that it’s not only what you eat but also when you eat that counts. After dinner, teach yourself to think of the kitchen as being closed for the night, and brush your teeth — you’ll want to eat less with a newly cleaned mouth. If you’re still truly hungry, reach for something small like a piece of fruit.
4. Emotional Eating
The habit of reaching for food due to boredom, anxiety, anger, or even happiness is by far the number one obstacle many people face when trying to lose weight. We’re practically taught from birth to connect food and feelings. We bond over food, bring it to grieving loved ones, use it to celebrate, or turn to it as a way to stuff down uncomfortable feelings. It’s a pattern that’s socially accepted (even encouraged) and it’s challenging to overcome. But it’s not impossible. Instead of a fad diet, consider making this your New Year’s resolution—while you can’t break the pattern overnight, this change may be the most important and impactful for weight loss success.
5. Letting Yourself “Starve”
This habit goes along with planning meals. If you know you are going to be away for a long time, or have a busy work day, bring some food with you. When we let ourselves go too long without eating, we are more likely to choose unhealthy foods – and overeat too much of them. Avoid this by eating something small about every 3-4 hours. This will help stabilize blood sugar and prevent blood sugar swings.
Ideally, you should pair a healthy carbohydrate, like a piece of fruit or some vegetables, with a lean protein source to keep blood sugar levels stable. Adding in a moderate amount of heart-healthy fats, like a small handful of nuts or ¼ avocado, with a protein and carbohydrate will also help keep hunger levels down.