(BlackDoctor.org) — A few too many sodas, a little too much candy…there are just so many temptations that are readily available to destroy just about anyone’s healthy eating goals, right? Well, thankfully, bad eating habits actually can be broken.
Let’s identify common bad eating habits, as well as easy solutions to help you eat better every day:
The Perpetual Snacker
The problem: You may end up overeating. A healthy snack or two between meals is fine. Snacks can keep blood sugar steady as well as allow you to rack up more servings of fruits and vegetables. “It’s when you snack in place of eating real meals that you’re more likely to lose track of how much you’re eating,” says Tara Gidus, R.D., an Orlando, Florida–based spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association. Of course, what you eat matters, too. Typical snack foods (chips, cookies, pretzels) aren’t that nutritious or satisfying, so it’s easy to overdo them.
The solution: To keep your energy up and hunger at bay, allow yourself two snacks a day of 100 to 300 calories each. “Rather than a cookie or a candy bar, opt for something that feels like real food?half of a small sandwich, whole-grain crackers with cheese, a handful of nuts, baby carrots with hummus, or yogurt sprinkled with cereal,” says Gidus. Click here for more low-calorie snacks.
The Mindless Muncher
The problem: Television makes people particularly prone to spaced-out eating. In fact, “folks who eat while watching the tube take in 20 to 60 percent more than if they are focused on their food,” according to Brian Wansink, a professor of marketing at Cornell University and the author of Mindless Eating (Bantam, $11, amazon.com).
The solution: Figure out which situations trigger mindless eating for you, then consciously make an effort to eat only when you’re fully engaged. If you need a few snacks, set limits on what you’ll eat. Dole out a single serving before you sit down on the couch, or delay your snack until you can pay attention. Minimize damage by dipping into low-cal foods, such as cut vegetables, air-popped popcorn, rice crackers, and whole-grain cereal.
The Mood Eater
The problem: It may be soothing in the moment, but feeding your fears and frustrations, instead of confronting them, can lead to a cycle of more bad moods as well as steady weight gain. Many people turn to carbohydrates, in particular, which produce tryptophan, a type of amino acid that is used by the brain to manufacture serotonin. “When the brain makes more serotonin, your mood improves, but only temporarily,” says Judith Wurtman, Ph.D., a coauthor of The Serotonin Power Diet (Rodale Books, $25, amazon.com).
The solution: Stop to think about what’s bothering you before reflexively open the cupboard. Then try a nonfood mood booster, such as taking a walk, seeing a movie, or calling a friend. “If nothing but carbs will do, get the serotonin boost without triggering a binge,” says Gidus. “Opt for a whole-grain treat so at least you get more fiber and less sugar.”
The Weekend Guzzler