The 6 Dirtiest Eating Habits and How to Break Them
By Megan Cahn
Whether you’re a kale connoisseur, a master cleanser, or a gluten-free gourmet, we are all conscious of what we put in our body in our own ways. On the flip side, we all have our vices. Some of us are suckers for sugar, while others cannot resist a salty snack. You may shovel in food too fast or not be able to say no to that second helping. Whatever your Achilles’ heel of eating may be, it’s never an easy habit to break. Though we are 100 percent behind indulging in the things we love, it is all about moderation. So we enlisted health coach and nutrition guru, Arielle Fierman, to give us some easy tips to help get the most common eating afflictions under control.
THE SPEED EATER
You often find yourself setting your fork down after finishing a meal, only to look around and see that your fellow diners haven’t even touched their sides of veggies yet. It’s not that you’re eating unhealthy food necessarily, you are just gobbling things down so quickly that you end up taking in way more calories than you need. Winners finish last in the eating game, so here’s how to take it easy and slow down.
Some people pray or say grace before a meal, but that is certainly not for everyone. If you’re not on the religious tip, Fierman suggests looking down at your food, taking a deep breath, and saying thanks before eating anything whether it’s a five-course meal or a quick bite. “When you take a second to become mindful of what you’re about to put in your body and grateful that you have something to eat, you instantly slow down and feel a wave of calmness.”
Let it Melt
"Picture this," says Fierman. "You have one small piece of the most decadent, rich, fresh dark chocolate-and that is all you get. You won’t enjoy it fully if you chomp down and swallow it, so place it on your tongue, close your eyes, chew, and let it slowly melt." When you chew your food really well it liquefies in your mouth, enhancing the texture and flavors. If you treat all of your meals like this chocolate, you’ll start appreciating the little things in life more and make eating slower a habit.
Multi-tasking may be a useful skill in other facets of your life, but not when it comes to eating. Are you checking Instagram and responding to emails during lunch? This may be exactly what is causing things to “disappear” from your plate. Try to tune out of the digital world while you dine, and into the food in front of you.
Like the Speed Eater, you are taking in more calories than you need, but it’s not your pace that is the problem. Your stomach is telling you you’re full, but you just want one more bite. Even if you are eating steamed salmon and quinoa, sometimes too much is just too much. Here’s how to get those portions under control.
Sit and Chew
You can cleanse your body, lose weight, and practice the easiest form of portion control just by chewing properly and sitting down when you eat. Fierman recommends chewing each bite 15 to 30 times or until it liquefies in your mouth no matter what you are eating-you will feel satiated faster and end up eating less.
Get a Doggy Bag
Restaurant portions are notoriously large. When dining out, you should plan to eat only half of what’s on your plate. Share with a friend or take the leftovers home for a meal tomorrow. This plan saves you cash too.
Dine in Style
Even if you’re preparing a meal just for yourself, try and make the experience a pleasant one. Place your dinner on a nice plate (this will also help you see your portions), and place mat, and your drink in a glass. After a stressful day, sitting down (maybe even lighting a candle) in a comfortable setting and taking a deep breath before you eat will help you relax, slow down, and eat less.
THE SUGAR FIEND
Would you like to see the dessert menu? Umm, YES. Your 4 o’clock sugar cravings have become around the clock sugar cravings and you just can’t seem to stop yourself from adding a candy bar to your cart at checkout a little too often. Well, the more sugar you eat, the more sugar your body wants, so here are a few ways to start curbing that sweet tooth.
Sometimes the need for sugar is actually a sign of dehydration, so instead of grabbing a Snickers you should reach for a Poland Springs. But beyond the quick fix, you may need to up your daily H2O intake. Fierman suggests drinking half the amount of your body weight in ounces (for example, if you weigh 140 lbs, you need at least 70 ounces of water).
Grab Some Carbs…It’s Okay
If your cravings are uncontrollable, add a complex carbohydrate like a whole grain into your breakfast or lunch to help balance your blood sugar. Have a brown rice cake with almond butter or put steamed brown rice or quinoa on your salad. You can also try naturally sweet vegetables like baby carrots, beets, butternut squash, or green juice for a healthier sweet alternative.
Try Another Treat
Very often cravings are linked to your thoughts and emotions. When you crave sugar it could actually be a need for something sweet in your life-not necessarily in your stomach. Fierman suggests thinking of non-food ways to give yourself something special when you’re jonesing for dessert, like a phone call with a positive friend, a manicure in a bright color, or a solo dance party to your favorite song.
THE LATE NIGHT EATER
You often find yourself up late watching The Real Housewives on the couch and then all of a sudden your face is in the fridge searching for something, anything. A midnight snack might satisfy you for a moment, but certainly not in the long run. Here’s how to quell your end-of-day food urges and wake up regret free.
You’re a busy woman with a with a lot on your plate (no pun intended), but it’s important to take time to eat during the day no matter how hectic your schedule is. Fasting (whether it’s conscious or not) most often leads to eating less healthy foods in larger amounts at night, and also slows down your metabolism. Fierman recommends a medium sized breakfast, a large lunch, and a small dinner, with a few healthy snacks in between if necessary.
Question Your Motives
Before you hit the fridge in the wee hours, ask yourself if you are actually hungry. Sometimes when you eat late at night it is because you haven’t had enough during the day, but often it is for more emotional reasons. You may be craving comfort or sweetness because you are sad, lonely, or just bored. Try and identify what the issue is first and look for solutions outside of the kitchen.
Fierman suggests finishing your dinner approximately two to three hours before you head to bed. It will ensure a longer digestion or “fat burning” time between dinner and breakfast the next day. Bonus: This may help you get a better night sleep too. If you’re still wanting that midnight snack, have some herbal tea such as chamomile with almond milk.
There you are just munching away, again. Maybe you’re craving salt, maybe you have an oral fixation, or maybe you’re bored. Whatever the cause of your cravings for the crunch, these tips will make it so once you pop, you can actually stop.
Take a Seat and Hang Up
Always get off your cell and sit down when you eat, even if you’re just going into the kitchen to grab a handful of nuts. You will eat more standing in front of the fridge or while you’re talking on the phone. So save yourself from overdosing on too many chips and the person on the other end of the line from having to listen to you talk between mouthfuls.
Don’t Eat Out of the Container
Even if you’re snacking on something healthy like carrots, make sure to take them out of the bag or box. Always put your food on a plate or in a small bowl, so you can measure out a proper amount and spatially see everything that you’re putting in your body.
Check the Back of the Box
Look at the serving size and use measuring spoons or cups to make sure you’re abiding by the recommended serving size. “You may even end up changing your mind on what you’re going to have,” says Fierman. “A bag with 30 chips per serving versus five chips per serving? I’ll take the 30!”
THE YO-YO DIETER
You’re always dabbling in the latest diet trends, but in-between you often fall back into your bad habit-riddled routine. A cleanse or restrictive fad diet will help you lose weight rapidly, but not permanently. Here’s how to swap out those quick-fixes for a real lifestyle change.
"The 80/20 rule is a great way to keep your mind and body sane," says Fierman. "Eighty percent of the time strive to nourish your body with high quality foods, lots of water, greens, whole grains, and good quality protein. The other 20, eat what is available without caring too much and just enjoy yourself!"
Remember Your Body
Chaotic eating habits and intense practices can hurt you. “Be good to yourself and know that you can restart your metabolism by simply adopting healthy habits and eating delicious, vitamin-packed, fiber-rich foods that will give you energy while naturally cleansing your body.”
Deprivation always leads to bingeing-juice cleanses are often a culprit of this. “People juice for an entire week and then go back to eating burgers the second they have their ‘last juice,’” says Fierman. “This can be the most painful part of a cleanse and really intense on your digestive system if not done correctly. Ease food back into your life, one bite and one day at a time, and do not overload at one sitting.”