In a world of high speed Internet, automated tellers, fast cars, and fast food, taking the time to maintain healthy eating habits may seem as daunting as finding a VHS movie at the video store. ating, an activity that was once a main priority, has become something that we either have to fit into our day, or something we do thoughtlessly and carelessly, not paying all that much attention to what we put into our bodies.


Furthermore, many of the bad eating habits you think will help you shed pounds may actually lead to weight gain. Lucky for you, you don’t have to resort to a prehistoric lifestyle to break your bad eating habits; funneling unhealthy eating habits out of your life is easier and takes less time than you think.


Stay away from these bad eating habits to get on the fast track to a healthier life, leaner body, and more satisfying eating experience:


1- Skipping breakfast


Why is it bad?

As far as ideas go, skipping breakfast is a pretty bad one. Not only does starting the day with a healthy breakfast give you a boost of energy and help clear the fog out of your brain, it also helps you make healthy eating choices throughout the entire day, as you already primed your good eating habits first thing in the morning.


Eating breakfast may also help you to eat fewer calories later in the day. A study at the University of Texas at El Paso found that a given number of calories consumed earlier in the day is more filling than the same number of calories eaten later on, lessening overall calorie consumption.


What to do:

You’re less likely to make bad eating choices at lunch if you eat properly in the morning, so start the day off with a breakfast of champions. Try a bowl of oatmeal and cup of low fat yogurt, or a poached egg with whole grain toast and fresh fruit.


2- Eating before bed


Why is it bad?

If you’re seeking sweet dreams, avoid eating before bedtime. While no conclusive studies prove that eating before bed leads to weight gain, eating too much food, or eating spicy foods, fatty foods and caffeine one to three hours before bedtime can reduce the quality and length of your sleep, making you fatigued, sluggish and generally not fun to be around the next day. Eating fatty foods before bed will slow down the emptying of the stomach, exacerbating indigestion, while spicy foods can lead to heartburn and indigestion.


What to do:

If you just can’t say no to the rumbling in your stomach before sleeping, snack on some fresh fruit to avoid feeling like someone’s blowing up a small country in your stomach while you sleep.


Stop eating in front of the TV…


3- Binging


Why is it bad?

Maybe if popular binging foods were celery sticks and lettuce leaves, nutritionists wouldn’t have such a problem with this form of eating, but unfortunately food binges usually come in the form of fatty snack foods like chips, pizza or cookies. Gorging yourself on said foods will likely lead to weight gain, dissatisfaction, and a feeling that you lack discipline.


What to do:

Eat five to six smaller meals per day, rather than three large ones, which leave the window open for binging on snacks between meals. Eating healthy, small meals containing complex carbs and lean protein spaced throughout the day will not only help curb your appetite, they’ll also reduce your chances of overeating. Consuming five or six small meals will also help you burn more calories throughout the day, since your metabolism will be constantly running high.


4- Starving yourself


Why is it bad?

Contrary to what you may think, the body’s first reaction to starvation is weight gain via the storage of fat. Why does the body do this? Well, when you don’t eat for long periods of time, your body becomes pretty upset that you’ve been depriving it of food, so when you finally do eat again, your body thinks it needs to store these calories as fat because it doesn’t know when the chance to eat will come again. And then, the fat remains with you.


What to do:

If your intentions in regards to starving yourself are to lose weight, then it’s time to reevaluate your diet and begin a workout program or up the intensity of your current gym routine. Make sure your diet is high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and includes lean meats and fish. Try hitting the gym three to five times a week, and make sure to vary your workout routine. The best way to lose fat is through a healthy diet and regular exercise, not through depriving your body of the calories and nutrients it needs to function.


5- Eating while doing something else


Why is it bad?

Not only is eating while doing something else a great way to get food all over yourself, it also tends to lead to overeating, and subsequently, weight gain. If you eat while you’re watching TV, talking on the phone, or playing a video game, these external distractions will lead your body to pay less attention to internal hunger and satiety cues that may be telling you that you’re not even hungry, or that you’re way too full. Plus, once you begin eating while doing something else, you often can’t stop, since the act of eating becomes a thoughtless, mechanical movement that could just go on and on.


What to do:

Try to focus on one thing at a time. Wandering into the kitchen when you’re on the phone is a bad idea. If you’re eating just to keep your hands and mouth busy, find other distractions that don’t involve calories. Start chewing gum, take up guitar playing, or busy your hands by giving your girlfriend a neck massage.


Slow down dude, it’s not a race…


6- Eating too fast


Why is it bad?

Life is fast. Do you really want yours to pass you by? Didn’t think so. Start slowing things down at your next meal because eating too quickly isn’t doing you favors. Hoovering in your food at warp speed will not only make you look like you just walked out of the Neolithic ages, it also encourages weight gain. It takes about 20 minutes from the time you begin eating for satiety signals to reach your brain, so if you wolf down your meal in 5.6 minutes, your brain won’t get the chance to tell your body that it’s full, making you overeat and filling your body with more food and calories than you need.


What to do: 

Slow down, relax, really chew your food and enjoy the taste of what you’re eating. This allows your brain to realize that you’re eating, so it can signal to your body that you’re full. If you’re pressed for time at breakfast or lunch, make sure that your meal is small to begin with, so that even if you do end up eating fast, it won’t be more calories than you need.


7- Not drinking enough water


Why is it bad?

It’s no secret that water is necessary for the optimal functioning of all life forms, humans included. What’s surprising is that not drinking adequate amounts of water throughout the day can actually slow down your metabolism, making weight gain a likely possibility, since water is necessary for all metabolic functions, including calorie burning.


What to do:

Unless you’re wandering around the Sahara, water should be readily available to you, and you should drink lots of it. Aim to chug back eight to 10 glasses a day, and more if you exercise regularly. It’s also a smart move to drink water with your meal rather than juice or soda, which may fill you up faster than water, but contains lots of empty calories. And chances are, these empty calories will leave you feeling hungry 30 minutes later.


8- Not eating enough fruits & vegetables


Why is it bad?

Fruit- and vegetable-flavored foods do not count as a serving of fruits or vegetables. This means that fruit candy, apple granola bars, corn nuts, and guacamole chips don’t count towards the five to 10 servings of fruits and vegetables you should be eating every day.


What to do:

Since the only way to give your body the vitamins and minerals it needs is by consuming actual fruits and vegetables. And, in case you thought you could get away without eating the whole carrot or apple, one medium-sized vegetable or fruit, one cup of salad, and half a cup of canned fruit or vegetables all count as one serving.


9- Grocery shopping when you’re hungry


Why is it bad?

While this isn’t a bad eating habit per se, it’s a bad habit that can lead to unhealthy food choices. When you’re hungry, even your girlfriend’s soy burgers that you’ve been making fun of all week look appetizing. So what makes you think you can walk into a grocery store full of tempting sweet and salty snack foods on an empty, growling stomach and come out with sensible purchases? 


What to do:

Eat before you go. Grocery shopping on an empty stomach will only lead to impulse purchases of jumbo-sized chocolate bars, grape soda and party mixes, none of which will make a very satisfying breakfast, lunch or dinner. Grab an apple, a handful of nuts or a quick sandwich before heading to the store and you’re bound to return home with foods that will actually count towards a balanced meal.


Be Smart, Eat Smart

Unlike our hairier ancestors, modern life now requires that we have a full-time job other than just foraging for food. But eliminating bad eating habits can still be a viable option for humans today. Simple meal planning and incorporating healthy snacks can make a world of difference in your diet. Stay lean, increase your energy levels and really relish the act of eating.

Be inspired! Be enlightened!! Be motivated!!!


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