The worst food habits and how to beat them

Kim Hookem-Smith
Yahoo Lifestyle
18 January 2013


Bad food habits are easy to fall into but as many of us work hard to stick to complicated diet plans or even just a healthy eating programme, these unconscious food routines that might be causing us to fail.

Try ditching these four common food habits and watch the pounds fall off.

Cramming in the carbs

Carb-rich foods such as rice, pasta, potatoes, cereals and breads all give us energy, valuable vitamins  and help to fill us up but over eating them can lead to weight gain, tiredness and even diabetes  - and over eating them is exactly what most of us do.


[Related: Is healthy eating making you fat?]


Think about your diet - breakfast is often a carb fest of cereal or toast, lunch is more bread in the form of a sandwich, wrap or bagel, a baked potato or maybe a pasta salad and supper is usually heavy on the carbs again as pasta, rice or potatoes form the basis of most common meals in the UK. 

How to kick the habit
Next time you put a meal together, make fruit or vegetables the main component.  Instead of a large bowl of cereal with a bit of chopped banana on top go for a bowl of fresh fruit salad with a spoonful of muesli or oats sprinkled on top.

Instead of that baguette for lunch, opt for a salad or veg based soup and swap your evening spag bol around so that most of the meal is the sauce with extra vegetables such as sweet corn, peas, grated carrot, chopped celery and mushrooms. Then add a little (the amount you could fit in a cupped hand) spaghetti on top.  


[Related: Healthy eating tips for busy women]


Reversing your meals in this way is not only a great way to double, even triple your nutrient intake but it will automatically lower the calorie content of your meal and significantly curb your appetite into the bargain!

Choosing calorie dense over nutrient dense foods

Calorie dense foods such as cakes, biscuits, pies, desserts and pastries as well as doughnuts, chips,  take-outs, ready meals, sweets, fizzy drinks and alcohol all contain relatively few nutrients in comparison to the amount of calories they pack in and low level of fibre.

These are easy, convenience foods that make it easy to over consume on calories whilst still failing to get all the nutrients we really need. 

How To Kick The Habit
Plan meals that include filling, nutrient dense foods instead such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat or fat-free milk and dairy products, nuts, beans, seeds, turkey, chicken, fish and lean cuts of meats.

These are excellent sources of essential vitamins and minerals and because they are richer in fibre and water they are far more effective at helping us to feel fuller for longer.


[Related: Diet food that actually makes you fat]


Playing truancy in the kitchen

Often we plump for take-aways not because we really love the taste but because we simply can’t be bothered to cook.   As a result the average person eats over 46 take-outs a year.

How To Kick The Habit
Making your own healthy meals doesn’t need to take an age and the end result can often taste much better.  Instead of a Chinese, grab a pre-prepared pack of stir fry veg from the chiller section of your local supermarket, throw in a handful of prawns, some garlic and a little soy sauce and you’ll have a delicious meal in minutes for a fraction of the calories. 

Instead of fish and chips, wrap a fillet of cod or haddock in a little foil with a drizzle of oil, bake in the oven for 20 minutes or so a serve with some low fat oven chips. 


[Related: Healthy eating for veggies]


If you must order a take away, go for tandoori chicken and a side salad from your Indian restaurant then serve in a hot wholemeal pitta bread, with some extra fresh salad leaves and a dollop of mango chutney. 

Eating on the run

When eating on the go, we miss the full impact of the taste sensations that can be enjoyed when food is eaten more slowly. It also takes 20 minutes after food enters your mouth for your brain to register feelings of fullness so eating in a rush often means you consume more than you need quickly, before you know it.

How to Kick The Habit
Take time to sit down and savour your meals and snacks.  At the very least never eat standing up, in front of the TV or whilst driving and wait until you've swallowed one bite before you take the next one.

What are your worst food habits? Let us know on Twitter using #YDietfails

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