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7 Mealtime Habits to Break to Meet Your Health Goals

If you’ve been struggling to lose weight and you’ve made all the recommended lifestyle changes, but are struggling to see the numbers go down on the scale, then maybe it’s time to take a look at a little-known culprit — your mealtime habits.How you eat may be almost as important aswhat and when you eat, when it comes to weight loss. 

Studies show that most people think they have better eating habits than they actually do. Let’s take a look at 7 common poor eating habits that can contribute to the health struggle, as well as simple tips to follow to nix these habits once and for all.

The Bad Eating Habits We Need to Break

#1 Eating on the Go 

Eating on the go can be a big issue, because “mindless eating” can lead to weight gain. When you eat on the go, you often aren’t really paying attention to how much or how fast you are eating. Maybe you’re eating in between work meetings or eating something quickly during your commute. Maybe you are standing up in the kitchen or break room and trying to get a quick bite. No matter what the case, eating on the go is a recipe for eating more in one sitting than you may normally eat because the stomach can properly can’t let the brain know you’re full. So slow down, sit down, and be mindful of what you’re eating at every meal. This may take some getting used to, and it’s better to eat quickly in the break room than to starve yourself. But do your best to plan your day with intentional breaks that give you time to eat mindfully.

#2 Not Having Healthy Foods Prepared

Not having enough healthy foods prepped ahead of time means that you are more likely to snack on easy grab-and-go options, which are usually unhealthy, and you may be more likely to order food in. Ordering food for delivery or eating out means you may be consuming higher sodium, and processed foods cooked in bad fats which can lead to weight gain and inflammation. Try to have as many meals, and snacks prepped as possible to avoid having to grab something that’s not so healthy in a pinch.

#3 Eating While Distracted

How many times have you been distracted while eating and later realized that you ate an entire bag of chips? It happens to most of us. Eating while distracted means that again you aren’t being mindful, and this can mean eating much more in one sitting than you should or normally would if you were intentionally and mindfully chewing. This goes hand in hand with scrolling on your phone while eating, or eating at your desk while working, or watching a show or sporting event without being conscious of the food you’re eating. 

#4 Relying on Fast Food

While fast foods may serve as a convenient option, especially for those of us with a very busy schedule, they are almost all loaded with trans fats, artificial ingredients, high sugar, and an exorbitant amount of sodium to mask the low quality of the food product itself. All of these things can lead to weight gain, (not to mentionhigh cholesterol,diabetes, andheart disease) and these are not nourishing foods that you want to be a regular part of your diet if you are trying to lose weight and be healthy. This is one great reason to carve time out of the week to prep lunches as often as possible.

#5 Eating in a Loud Environment/Social Setting

Similar to eating while distracted, eating in a loud environment or social setting can also lead to an increased food consumption. We pay much less attention to the actual food we are eating, especially if we are out in a social setting and just grabbing whatever is there. That one pig in a blanket can quickly turn into four at a social event where appetizers are being passed around. Science shows that loud sounds play tricks on your body, so that when there’s a lot of noise we tend to eat more, and more quickly. Of course this doesn’t mean you should never go to dinner with friends, or events. Just be armed ahead of time with the knowledge that the environment affects most of us, so you can be mindful of it. 

#6 Eating in a Dark Place

Did you know that studies show that brighter places help to reduce how much we eat? A study published in the Journal of Marketing Research found that diners who consumed their meals in brighter rooms were 16-24% more likely to pick healthier food items from the menu than the diners who consumed their meals in a dimly-lit room. This could explain why so many restaurants are dimly lit. They want you to eat more… of course!

#7 You Look for “Low Fat” Foods

If you are trying to stick to a healthy diet, and choose low-fat over full-fat options, you may actually be doing more harm than good. Low-fat food items are often loaded with added sugar to make up for the lack of flavor that gets stripped away when the fat is taken out. Instead, stick to full-fat unsweetened versions, and don’t worry too much about the fat content. If you are sticking to whole foods (think avocados, nuts, seeds, and full-fat unsweetened coconut milk yogurt,) you won’t have anything to worry about when it comes to these healthy added calories. You will be less likely to overeathealthy fats, and more likely to overeat the low-fatsugar-filled options. 

Tips You Need to Know to Nix Bad Eating Habits

  • Grab a Salad First: Here’s a tip to not only help maintain a healthy weight, but also pack in a healthy extra dose of veggies or two per day! Try enjoying a healthy salad before a meal once a day. If you fill up on yummy and fiber-rich dark leafy greens and crunchy veggies, you will be less likely to fill up on carb-heavy foods.
  • Don’t Skip Meals: Keeping yourblood sugar levels in check is one of the best ways to prevent unhealthy snacking. To keep your blood sugar stable, be sure you aren’t skipping meals. Focus on packing each meal withnutrient-dense foods with lots of healthy fats,protein, andfiber tokeep you full and nourished. The more stable your blood sugar is, the less likely you’ll be to grab something unhealthy on the go.
  • Skip the Bread: When out to dinner,say no to the breadbasket. While tempting, filling up on carb-heavy bread before your meal only adds calories and unnecessary refined carbs and sugar. Not only that, science shows that starting your meal with bread not only causes you to eat more calories in that meal, it also makes you more likely to eat more foods that are high in fat, sugar, and carbs. Skip the bread and enjoy the rest of your meal.
  • Play the Music Down Low, Very Low: Just like sitting in a brighter room helps us eat less in one sitting, playing the music at a low volume may help as well. Some slow,soft classical music may help us relax more and be more mindful when it comes to what we eat. Try eliminating all outside distractions, putting some calming music on and really be mindful of every bite you take. It may just do the trick to help you slow down and eat less.
  • Stay Hydrated: Did you know that it’s pretty common toconfuse thirst with hunger? We often find ourselves craving something sugary when we may reallyneed to hydrate. To help nix bad eating habits, stay on top of your hydration throughout the day. Fill a reusable water bottle and sip it throughout the day to prevent dehydration from setting in, and to help reduce the chance of mindless eating caused by a confused hunger and thirst signal. 

Don’t Let Poor Eating Habits Be the Cause of Your Weight Gain

If you have been struggling to lose weight and just can’t pinpoint the issue, then first take a look at some of these really common eating habits. While the quality of our food is still king when it comes to supporting overall health andmaintaining a healthy weight, numerous studies show that the environment we eat in is also extremely important. 

If you are finally ready to start making eating habit changes and get the scale tipping in your favor then try implementing some of these tips and see what it can do for your weight loss goals and overall health.

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