It's no surprise that Americans have a lot of unhealthy eating habits. In fact over 71% of our population is overweight or obese. This can lead to major health concerns such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, and more. But with infinite amounts of high-calorie, highly-processed foods available to us at all hours of the day, (which are super addictive, quite convenient, and usually inexpensive), it can be easy to fall into bad eating habits that don't support our health and wellness. The solution? Replacing your bad eating habits with new ones! Out with the old and in with the new.
Common Poor Eating Habits
Drinking Sugar-Laden Beverages
America loves soda or "pop," and all kinds of sweetened beverages like sugary coffee drinks, sweet tea and so on. However, sugary drinks typically have little nutritional value and spike your blood sugar, which can lead to an unwanted energy crash hours later.
Relying On Poor-Quality Convenience Foods
We have more fast food restaurants and gas stations loaded with highly-processed junk than we do grocery stores. While these convenience foods are quick and easy, they're loaded with calories and incredibly processed and don't fuel your body with the nutrients it craves. These foods do more harm than good.
Not Knowing The Difference Between Healthy and Unhealthy Food
Another problem is that the majority of us don’t know the difference between healthy and unhealthy food. For example, if a food is labeled "low fat" or "low sugar" it doesn’t actually mean it’s good for you. Many fall into the food labeling trap of buying these foods, simply from assuming they’re being healthy.
Eating Sweets and Processed Foods
Do you find that you treat yourself to high-sugar/high-fat foods like pastries, ice cream, donuts etc., very often? Well, it's easy to do, as these food feel good to eat in the moment, but ultimate have major repercussions on our health, especially when consumed frequently. When you start to treat yourself to cookies, and cake every day, it can leave you feeling dependent on these processed foods, creating a vicious cycle of wanting more and more.
Eating While Distracted
It's important to know what to eat but also to know how to eat. Most of us eat while looking at our phones, or watching the T.V. But, when we eat while distracted, we don't chew slowly and really taste our food. This makes it easy to eat too much without realizing when we're satisfied and have had enough. Ever downed an entire bag of chips while watching the T.V. not even to have noticed you ate a whole bag by yourself? Yep, us too. It's easy to do if you aren't paying attention.
The Healthy Habit Solutions
Incorporate More Plain Beverages Into Your Diet
While sweet beverages can be tasty, as a rule of thumb, it's best to think of sweet drinks like sweet treats that you enjoy every so often. Replace your sugary-drink habit with more plain beverages such as water, sparkling water, black coffee and tea. Give it a couple of weeks, as your taste buds will change, and your body will adjust to more stable energy levels!
Meal Prep & Choose Healthier Convenience Meals
Step 1: Meal prep. On Sunday, try to plan out your meals for the week and see what you can cook ahead of time in bulk. Some people like to cook their healthy meals all at once, and keep them in the fridge or freezer. This will help you eat healthier when you are stressed and crunched for time.
Step 2: Choose healthier convenience food options. We understand how hard it can be to eat well, especially when you are busy. This is why we created Chef Soraya, to make a convenience meal that's made from real food, instead of other processed options available on the market today. Let Chef Soraya take care of a meal in your day!
Focus On Real Food
Step 1: Try to eat food as close to it's whole food form as possible. For instance, if you can choose between real strawberries and a strawberry fruit strip, try to choose the real strawberries.
Step 2: Make produce a priority. Fruits and vegetables are full of vitamins and minerals that help keep your body healthy! Their fiber also helps you feel fuller for longer. Shop for produce before you hit the middle isles in the grocery store and choose produce you enjoy eating!
Step 3: Skip foods that contain ingredients you can't pronounce. Odds are, if a food item contains an ingredient that sounds crazy, it's not good for you. Look for real ingredients on food labels.
Treat Yourself Every Once In a While
Step 1: Forgive yourself for liking and wanting to eat treats. Whether it's a savory or sweet treat, everyone has their "thing" that they can go a little crazy with. Especially when we are stressed, it can be easy to want really palatable foods. Give yourself some compassion.
Step 2: Try to use the idea of delaying treats rather than denying them completely. This will help to reduce the restrict-binge cycle that diet mentality can create. There's a healthy balance for everything!
Step 3: Have a healthy "treat" everyday. Try to replace your daily treat fix with fruit and nuts, yogurt and honey, peanut butter with dates, etc.
Step 4: Create a designated day of the week or special occasions when you will allow yourself to enjoy a treat with friends or family. This will help you think of treats as treats, again, something you have every so often.
Take Away Electronics at Mealtime
Step 1: Commit to one meal a day that you can set aside time to simply eat without any electronic distractions.
Step 2: As strange as it might feel, chew each bite 30 times before swallowing. This will make you slow down, really taste what you are eating, and help you gauge when you are full.
Step 3: Once you've practice this habit or more mindful eating for at least a couple of weeks, try to implement this healthy habit into your other meals and snacks through out the day!
Food For Thought
Before you start changing your eating habits, look at your mindset and understand your "why." Why do you want to change you eating habits? Do your current eating habits leave you feeling tired and groggy? Do they weigh you down mentally, physically, or emotionally? It's important to know why you desire to change poor habits (with anything in life), as your "why" will help you stay on track and feel motivated to look at new eating habits as a choice instead of an obligation. It's also important to be kind to yourself. All changes take patience, consistency and time. So, practice saying positive affirmations to yourself such as “I am choosing to eat this because I care about my health,” rather than “I have to eat this because I need to lose weight.” You've got this!