I was guilty of all unhealthy eating habits at one point of my life. I think we are one of the most advanced nations in the world, but our unhealthy eating habits lead us to obesity and sickness with skyrocketing health care cost. One of the major problems we face is that fast food and unhealthy groceries tend to be cheaper than quality foods. Education is really a vital step to tell the public to make the right choices when buying foods. Below is a list of all unhealthy eating habits exposed and what solutions you have to get around that pit fall.
Fast Food – We want it snappy and satisfying
We are a super power nation with a super fast food addiction. Americans eat more fast food than ever before. We especially love it if we can eat it while on the go. Unfortunately most fast foods are highly processed, deep-fried and loaded with fat and sodium.
Healthy Alternatives: Use common sense when it comes to ordering fast food. If you have to go to a McDonald’s or Burger King go for the salads. Nowadays most fast food chains offering grilled meats as a well as healthier dishes. Subway and Blimpie are one of the fast food chains offering healthy alternatives with fewer calories. Also when ordering fast food keep it small, and don’t over-size it. Tip: if it doesn’t say grilled it’s probably deep-fried and loaded with calories.
Sugary foods – We want it sweet
Americans eat more than 128 lb of sugar per year, which is 5 oz of sugar or 10 tbsp per day. Try eating that amount per day, you probably couldn’t. However, it is easily consumed in a soda or energy drink. The truth is we are eating too much sugar. We add sugar to our coffees, tea, cereals, dessert and beverages. As soon as we get up we crave sweets, whether it’s in the form of cereals, sweet coffee, danish, muffins just to name a few. Sugar is the main reason for obesity, diabetes and cancer in the world. The amount of obese children has doubled since 1970.
Very often we don’t make the connection that we are eating sugary foods as the ones listed below. However consuming these type of foods and beverages are not healthy over a long time.
Candy bars, sugary candies, lollipops, gummy bears, certain cereals,
Shelf stable bakery items such pound cake, muffins, Danish
Juices with 10% fruit, sodas, diet sodas, energy drinks, chocolate milk,
Eat products with reduced sugar content.
Drink water instead of soda. I know it’s boring, but it’s exactly what our body wants.
Choose coffee instead of cappuccino.
Sodium – We want it salty
Salt is the number one killer ingredient that is responsible for high blood pressure, kidney diseases and heart diseases. Every third person in America suffers under some form of high blood pressure. The fact is – food taste better with salt – and we don’t like bland foods. No one does, however salt intake can be reduced significantly by just eating smaller portions. Below is an example of salty foods:
Cold cuts, cured and smoked foods,
Canned vegetables and soups
Frozen meals, frozen chicken
Fast Food, French fries, pasta sauce, pizza,
Cereals, waffles, cake mix , bread, bagels
Vegetable juice, salad dressings, ketchup, etc
Healthy Alternatives: You might realize that most of the above named foods are processed in some kind of way. Cutting down on portion size helps to keep the salt intake under control. If canned and frozen meals can’t be avoided buy low sodium meals. The best way to eat healthier food is simply to cook at home with fresh ingredients such as produce, fresh meat, fish and eggs.
Snacking – We snack our Life away
We all love a snack ones in a while (me included). We eat snacks because our brain wants us to. It makes us feel good. I know it’s fun to open a bag of chips here and there. And that’s fine, but moderation is key here.
Late Night Snacking I’m guilty of this too. I love my few pieces of dark chocolate after dinner. However, for many of us a beer and some potato chips and we are in heaven. Well you might actually find your way to heaven, hell or the ER by keeping up with these unhealthy eating habits. The calories of late night snacking are being stored as fat since the body has no chance to digest them properly. While we sleep our digestive system is on a low drive and therefore doesn’t work efficiently.
Healthy Alternatives: A handful of peanuts, almonds or walnuts do the trick. Mix them with dried cranberries or raisins and you have a delicious sweet salty and healthy snack. Try making your own potato chips. Slice them very thin, add some olive oil and season with a little salt, paprika, fresh rosemary and garlic. Place them on a baking tray and bake until golden brown and crispy. That way you cut out the majority of salt, fat and additives. You can even make chips from coconut, green plantains or sweet potatoes.
Fat – We want it fat
Bacon, butter and cream bring it on. From BLT’s to bacon and eggs to à la Vodka sauce it’s a must have on most diner menus. Almost 18 lbs of bacon is consumed per person in America. From bacon bits to bacon chocolate bars, bacon is in. You like ice cream? Me too. The average American eats 5.6 gallons of ice cream per year. That’s a lot isn’t?
There are plenty of fat reduced foods offered in supermarkets. However, no one says you can’t have your bacon and eggs just have it in moderation.
Big Portions – Super-size it please!!
We want it all and more. Over sized portions are very common and actually the norm. Just go to a diner and have breakfast, lunch or dinner. Look at the plates, what do you see? A big mountain of food, with absolutely no regards to calories, fat or carbohydrates. Since 1980 the average portion served in a restaurant has almost doubled. Lots of my friends eat ice cream out of the pint. Guess what they always finish it.
Eating food out of a container such as ice cream or chips out of the bag gives our brain the impression we must finish all. Serving desserts and snacks in a smaller bowl does the trick.
When dining out tell the waiter you would like to have a smaller portion. I love to order an appetizer as a starter and a second appetizer as my main course. That way I don’t over eat. I also use smaller plates at home, the portions look bigger when they are not.
We eat too fast – We love to gobble it down.
By the time we finish eating our meal we have consumed 20-30% more calories than we should have. It takes our brain about 15 minutes to realize that we are full. We grew up with this competitive mentality that someone could take or eat away our food.
Healthy Alternatives: Make a serious effort to eat slower. It’s called mindful eating. You’ll be surprised how much more you would enjoy your meals. Look at your food as it would be your last meal. Wouldn’t you enjoy and feast on it. I would. I know it’s easier said than done, but it works. Studies have confirmed that slower eating habits will reduce calorie intake significantly.
Skipping Meals – We claim we don’t have time.
Did you know that most of us gain weight by skipping meals? Because the next meal is a huge one. Starving your body slows down your metabolism.
Healthy Alternatives: Prepare your food in advance, so when you have a moment grab it and eat it. Your breakfast can be prepared the night before. Even your lunch can be heated in the micro wave. There should be no excuse. However, for those of us who actually have no time what so ever. I’m sorry for you, lucky you – there is still the good old granola bar or an apple.
Not getting enough Fibers
Many of us don’t get enough fibers in our diet. We prioritize everything in our busy life, but getting enough fibers is not always on that list. When I walk through the bread isle in the supermarket I realize that white bread is always sold out before whole wheat bread. There are no fibers in white bread therefore giving you no incentives to eat it. Yes it may taste good to some people, but it has no health benefits at all.
Fibers are a vital part of our diet. It has many health benefits, but most importantly keeps our digestive system intact. Getting enough fibers will prevent constipation and keeps the colon clean. They may also lower cholesterol levels, prevent diabetes and keep your weight in check. That’s a lot chew on, literally. Because foods high in fibers must be chewed on like apples, vegetables, whole grain bread etc.
So skip the white bread and choose whole wheat or multi-grain bread instead. Eat a fruit or two every day and include a healthy portion of vegetables with your meals and you should be good. Don’t forget to include a few nuts her and there and have an oatmeal once in a while. Check out my blueberry oatmeal with vanilla soy milk recipe. Drink enough water so the fibers can absorb it, which in turn gives you a smooth bowel movement.
It really comes down to mindful eating. Moderation is key here. Check the ingredient labels before buying food and beverages and make an intelligent decision whether it’s worth to buy. In this sense I leave you with a few health tips to chew on. Spread the word if you don’t mind…
I would love to hear your comments.
What are your experiences with unhealthy eating habits. Tell us about it.
Did you skip meals?
Do you eat a lot of fast food?
Do you like to gobble down your food?
What is your stand on creamy or fatty foods? Do you care?
What about salt and sugar? Does it matter to you how much you eat of it?
Are you struggling to eat enough fibers? You’re not alone? Share your experience.
Do you know of any other unhealthy eating habits? Let me know.