Unhealthy eating habits are becoming the norm in a large portion of everyone’s lives, but it is not too late to change! Ditching your unhealthy eating habits takes willpower, discipline and time, but it is absolutely possible if you are willing. To help you get started, here are five unhealthy eating habits you need to stop right now:
1. Snacking When You Are Not Hungry
Nothing is worse than eating when bored. We have all done it, we head to the fridge and open it up, hoping something appetizing will catch our eye. But let’s be real, we end up settling for an opened bag of chips that has been in our pantry for who knows how long.
It is important to listen to your body when it comes to the topic of appetite. You should not indulge in mindless snacking just because you are bored or cannot think of anything better to do at that given moment. Research shows that high-calorie snacking is a major cause of childhood obesity . Childhood obesity often leads to unhealthy and obese adults, which may place you at a higher risk of various chronic and life-threatening diseases.
So, what should you do? It is simple: avoid snacking when you are not hungry. Only eat when your body says it needs nutrients. While it may take some time to get back in touch with your body and its hunger signals, doing so can ensure you do not become a chronic overeater. Make it a rule for yourself: only eating when your body tells you to. We know it is easier said than done, as some people may be using overheating as a coping mechanism, meaning there are some deeper underlying issues. But getting started on a path to a healthier you never hurt anyone.
2. Consuming Too Much Sodium
Most experts recommend a daily sodium intake of 2300mg or less per day, but the average American consumes about 3400mg of sodium each day . While sodium is necessary for regular functions within the body, consuming too much can put you at a higher risk of developing cardiovascular issues, diabetes and chronic kidney disease. In order to fix this unhealthy eating habit, consider reading the labels of the food you eat and switching to more whole foods. Whole foods, like vegetables, fruits and grains, contain zero or low sodium, and are also much better for your health!
3. Selecting Food Options Because You Are Told They Are Healthy
The mainstream fitness and nutrition industry is all about “superfoods”, but not all these foods are as super as they are made out to be. For instance, some leafy vegetables can cause digestive issues for certain individuals due to compounds that help protect the plant from harm in the wild. Labels on food items that claim they are “low-fat,” “light,” or “sugar-free” are not necessarily any better for you either. Many of these food products replace their original fat or sugar contents with other equally unhealthy ingredients. You want to generally become more aware of what you are putting in your body. Avoid buying or eating food based solely on the belief that it is “healthy,” especially if you do not fully understand why. Do your research and read the label first, and then determine if it is a healthy option that you want to include in your diet.
4. Overeating Pre-Packaged Food Choices
In today’s fast-paced society, pre-packaged foods have quickly become the cheapest and easiest meals and snacks to consume. Pre-packaged food choices can be wreaking havoc on your health, with one study showing that ready-made-meals may increase a person’s energy intake and stop them from reaching daily nutritional recommendations . Ideally, cut back on pre-packaged food choices and consume more whole foods. Stick to the 80-20 rule, where you eat healthy and whole foods 80% of the time, but allow yourself to indulge in other types of foods, like pre-packaged food items, 20% of the time. This ensures you can still enjoy some of your favorite foods without over-indulging.
5. Drinking Too Many Sugary and High-Calorie Beverages
Drinking sugary beverages is dangerously easy, causing most to consume too many calories in just liquids alone. Going over your daily recommended calorie intake leads to weight gain, which can put your health at risk. One of the easiest ways to clean up a diet is to ditch the low-nutrient drinks. Instead, replace sodas, energy drinks, sports drinks, coffee, etc. with water or milk. Water keeps you hydrated and milk contains tons of nutrients that your body needs.
Are You Making Any of These Habitual Mistakes?
If you are engaging in any of the above five unhealthy eating habits, please consider ditching them for the sake of your health. In the end, it is fully within your control to decide what would be the best course of action. Remember, your health is priceless, and with better health comes a happier and fuller life.
 Yale School of Medicine. (2010). “Study finds snacking is a major cause of childhood obesity.” medicine.yale.edu, 2 April 2010, https://medicine.yale.edu/news-article/6584/.
 Strom B.L., Yaktine A.L., and Oria M. (2013). “Sodium Intake and Health Outcomes.” ncbi.nlm.nih.gov, 27 August 2013, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK201520/.
 Alkerwi A., Crichton G. E., & Hébert J. R. (2015). “Consumption of ready-made meals and increased risk of obesity.” ncbi.nlm.nih.gov, The British journal of nutrition, 28 January 2015, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4302389/.