Trying to be healthy? There could be some nasty little habits, that you don't even realise you have, that are ruining all your good work! Here are some of the most common culprits...
Trying to lose weight? Have you been trying to eat well, but the pounds just don’t seem to be shifting? Do you think that you’ve clamped down on all your bad diet habits? Well, there could be some nasty habits that you don’t even realise that you have.
It’s so easy to pick up bad diet habits that make healthy eating a constant struggle. We all know the obvious ones to watch out for, but, what about those harmless things we do that have never even occurred to us to be ‘bad diet habits’? It could be a quick ‘healthy’ snack that you always have if you’re hungry, or a myth that your mum told you about healthy eating. But, could one of these ‘harmless’ habits actually be what is ruining all your hard work and effort to be healthy and lose weight?
If you don’t know where to start to try and work out what you’re doing that’s right, and wrong, then fear not! We’re here to bust those nasty diet habits and help you be fully inspired to continuing your healthy living – those naughty little habits won’t know what has hit them!
Click through to see the bad diet habits that you never knew you had…
What’s the habit? Ok, we know that you’re probably aware that having sugar in your hot drinks isn’t the best for your diet. But, we bet you didn’t know this… If you have two sugars in your tea, and drink four cups a day; that works out the same amount of calories as a jam doughnut! Shocking we know (and yes, we’d much prefer the doughnut too!)
How to break it: There’s no easy way around it, cutting the sugar isn’t going to be easy. But start by cutting down slowly until you have half of what you used to and gradually keep going until you no longer need it at all. The key is not trying to do it too quickly! We promise (as sugar-in-tea converts) once you’re used to having no sugar, you’ll never want it in your tea again!
What’s the habit? Checking the fridge every single time you walk into the kitchen might not seem like too much of a damaging habit but you’re tempting your mind with treats and, even if you’re not actually hungry, you might break and eat something. Plus, if you check over and over again, food that you weren’t interested in to start with might start to look appealing and you’ll end up eating something you don’t actually want that much.
How to break it: Get a funny fridge magnet – one that says something like ‘a moment on the hips, a lifetime on the hips’ – that’ll make you really think about whether you need something to eat or not!
What’s the habit? Eating too fast is a bad diet habit that lots of people struggle with. But, wolfing down your dinner will not only leave your body struggling to digest it all, but it will also mean that you’re more likely to overeat. Experts say it takes 20 minutes for your body to register it’s full so if you eat slowly, and allow yourself time to appreciate the food that you’re eating, then you will be more aware when your body becomes full.
How to break it: Count the amount of chews that you do for each bite of food – aim for 15 each. Even if you don’t chew each mouthful 15 times, you’ll become more aware of what you’re eating and it should slow down the speed that you eat, significantly.
What’s the habit? It’s very easy to confuse hunger with thirst, but, this is an easy bad habit to fix…
How to break it: If you think you’re hungry then drink a pint of water slowly. Wait for 20 minutes and if you still feel like you need to eat, then have a little snack. It’s good to get into the habit of drinking a big glass of water before you eat any meal, as it will help you feel full and make you less likely to eat too much.
What’s the habit? The recommended daily intake for salt each day is 6g. But, so many of the foods we eat, now have added sugar and salt that we’re actually eating a lot more than we may think. This means that sprinkling salt over our meals is a luxury that we probably shouldn’t be doing. Plus, it’s very difficult to tell how much salt you have actually poured, unless you get the scales out!
How to break it: Try and cut down on adding salt to everything out of habit. Make sure you taste your food properly first and really think about whether it needs any extra.
What’s the habit? We all know what it’s like, when you’re serving up dinner for the family and you’re starving hungry. Pouring yours and your other half’s dinner out means you can easily end up having about the same amount as him. But, as we all know, the recommended daily calorie intake for women is 2000 calories, and for men it’s 2500 – so, it’s important to not fall into this trap!
How to break it: If you’re unsure of correct portion sizes then invest in a decent pair of electric scales – they’ll really help as you won’t be able to guesstimate things anymore.
What’s the habit? You might think you’ve done very well throughout the day, by having a small bowl of cereal, a light salad for lunch and no snacks. But, when you stop charging around of an evening and realise you feel absolutely ravenous you might just regret that decision (and, ruin all the good work you’ve done throughout the day!)
How to break it: Eating little and often is the best way to combat this problem. Take healthy snacks with you when you’re out and about, like carrot sticks, or peppers chopped up, that you can have at any time. And always keep an emergency snack in your handbag in case you get really hungry and don’t have any other option.
What’s the habit? There’s no doubt that foods like nuts, hummus and some cereal bars, are great to snack on. But, make no mistake, just because they’re good for you, doesn’t mean we can eat as many of them as we want. Foods like avocados and nuts, although packed with ‘good fats’ that the body needs, are not a great option if you’re watching your weight. Snacking on seven walnuts amounts to around 200 calories and a large avocado contains 38g of fat (over half our daily allowance) and 370 calories!
How to break it: If you’re really trying to lose weight, make sure you do your research. The best thing to do if you’re starting out on a new diet is to read the labels and track what you eat. Be wary of portion sizes on nutritional labels, often these are given based on half or quarter packet sizes, whereas you could quite easily eat the whole lot to yourself! If it says a 15g portion, then invest in some electric scales and weigh out a 15g portion so you know exactly what that looks like. Our diet club offers an online food diary service which can really help you keep on track of what you’re eating.
What’s the habit? You’ve been to the gym, been running, or to the pool for a swim – you get home after all your hard work and instead of eating what you normally would throughout the day; you seriously binge out! Well, you did the exercise, so you can eat what you like, right? Wrong. Although exercise is key to being healthy, weight loss is said to comprise of 80% your diet, and 20% exercise.
How to break it: Make sure you have something sensible to eat before you exercise – anything from a banana, to a full bowl of cereal – just be sure not to start your workout hungry. Eating before will mean you’re less likely to gorge when you finish exercising. Also keep a healthy snack at hand to eat when you finish exercising to take away that initial hunger pang too.
What’s the habit? There’s no doubt that a bowl of cereal is a great way to start the day, especially if you are trying to lose weight. But, are you having the recommended amount? Or are you freely pouring into a big bowl, soaking it with milk and eating up lots more calories than you originally thought?
How to break it: Weigh out a portion size so you know the amount that you should be eating each morning. Then, buy yourself a bowl that won’t allow you to be greedy with the amount that you pour.
What’s the habit? OK, we know you know the deal about drinking water – a glass when you wake up, 8 cups a day etc. But drinking water can actually directly help you lose weight. A study has proven that those who drank more water throughout the day, plus before they ate their meal, on average lost 5 pounds more than those who didn’t! Right, get us a glass – sharpish!
How to break it: Download an app! There are fun apps you can get on your phone where you update how much water you have drunk throughout the day.
What’s the habit? If you splash out on a takeaway, then chances are you’re going to want to get your money’s worth. But, you don’t actually need to eat ALL of it!
How to break it: As soon as you get the takeaway in, put half on your plate and assume that that is going to be all you eat – never put the whole amount on your plate and look at it like it’s some kind of challenge to eat as much as possible! Plus, if you only eat half, you can save the other half for a treat tomorrow, or even the next day.
What’s the habit? It’s so easy to fall in the trap of buying a ‘grab bag’ of crisps (or even worse, a sharing bag!). Another common trap to fall in is buying ready meals that seem like they are enough for one person – but, when reading the labels carefully it becomes clear that there is actually enough for two people! You could be eating double the amount of calories you should without even taking a second glance at the nutritional information…
How to break it: Take the extra time to read the labels – even if it says a ’25g portion’ has a certain amount of calories, make sure you re-check the weight of the bag so you’re not eating more than you should be. Once you become more savvy to the easy traps to fall into, you’ll get quicker at spotting them too!
Where to next? – 10 things you didn’t know where stopping you sleeping
– Get fit for free this spring
– Lose a pound a day