Bad eating habits can easily go unnoticed. This is because most people who lead busy lives are on automatic when it comes to shopping for groceries, planning meals and eating. The trick to identifying bad eating habits is paying close attention to food choices, keeping a food journal and being mindful of portion sizes.
Make Healthy Food Choices
Nutritionists often notice after working with a client that his or her diet consists of the same 20 or 30 foods over and over again. These food choices may even be healthy ones, but what stands out is the repetition. Eating pasta with sauce every other day, making rice and chicken because it’s quick and easy, or eating a bagel with cream cheese every morning because it’s handy are just a few examples.
Think about which foods you tend to choose and why. For example, you may be eating vegetables every day, but find that you always choose lettuce or spinach. Consider expanding the list of foods from which you choose. The next time you’re at the grocery store, you might want to buy broccoli, asparagus or kale. The more colorful your food is, the healthier it is, so pay attention to the variety of vegetables in many different colors such as carrots, sweet potatoes, red peppers and other colorful vegetables. The wider your food selection is on a regular basis, the greater nutrition your body will receive.
Keep a Food Journal
To make it easier to identify bad eating habits, keep a food journal. You might realize that you’re drinking too much coffee or sugary drinks. Maybe you’re not meeting the recommended daily allowance for fruits and vegetables, or you might notice that you have virtually no fish in your diet.
Keeping a food journal will make it clear very quickly if you’re eating the same foods over and over again. It will also help you to clue into any overconsumption of calories. This is especially helpful for people who eat when they’re not hungry. Documenting your food intake will also help you get to the core of any emotional issues behind overeating.
Control Portion Sizes
Bad eating habits can consist of eating the wrong foods or eating when you’re not hungry. Portion size is an integral part of this. You may find when you examine your diet that you’re eating nutritious foods but are still gaining weight. The culprit in this case, along with lack of exercise, is generally eating large portions.
To control your meal portions, try to limit distractions when eating. Eating in front of the television or while doing other things can make it easy to overeat. Decide on a portion size before sitting down to eat. Serve yourself on a small plate and avoid returning for seconds. Also be careful not to eat potato chips straight from the bag or cookies directly from the box. This practice can make it easy to eat more than you originally intended.