Top 10 Worst Eating Habits

by in Healthy Tips, March 1, 2011


No one eats perfectly all the time – even dietitians! But when bad habits become common practice, you can end up with weight gain, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and a host of other potential health problems. So which lousy habits are getting folks into trouble? Here are the top 10 faux pas on our hit list, and how to avoid them. How many are part of your regular routine?

1: Poor Meal Planning
According to our readers, “time” is one of the biggest barriers to healthy eating, but last-minute decisions often lead to fast-food drive thrus and pizza delivery. Taking a few minutes to plan out weekly meals before shopping for the week will save you money, calories,  and time in the long run.  In a hurry? Try these healthy, 20-minute dinners tonight >>

2: Too Many Meals Away From Home
Restaurants and take-out will always mean super-sized portions, along with more calories and sodium. Make the effort to prepare meals at home most nights of the week and use our tips when you do venture out.

3: Too Many Processed Foods
Salty and fatty convenience foods that have been stripped of nutrients are everywhere you turn. Opt for mostly fresh and whole foods and read labels to help make the smartest choices when you do go for more highly processed goods.  Get our 10 tips to be a savvy label reader >>

4: Too Much Added Sugar
Aside from the candies, cookies and soda that Americans already eat too much of, sugar is lurking in places you might not expect, like whole grain cereals, salad dressings, condiments and breads. Take inventory of the total sugar in your diet and find ways to cut back on those empty calories.

5.    Mindless Eating
Instead of just eating when hungry, many of us grab food when we’re bored, tired, stressed, happy, sad – you name it! Check out our tips for eating smart and for the right reasons.

6.    Not Eating Together
Along the same lines as eating mindlessly comes eating while distracted, over-scheduled and in multiple shifts. Turn off the TV (and yes, even the computer and cell phone) at meals and make time to eat as a family as much as possible.

7: Eating on the Run
Leaving the house for a busy day without packed snacks or meals sets the stage for diet disaster. You’ll resort to meals that are too processed, too heavy, and too much on your waistline.

8: Giant Portion Sizes
You think you can eyeball portions but have you ever really measured out your morning cereal, spoonfuls of peanut butter or olive oil for cooking? Overdoing portions (even with healthy foods) can cause a calorie overload. Just do it a few times to give yourself some perspective. Get our tips for perfect portion sizes >>

9: Too Many Liquid Calories
It’s easy to forget that calories from soda, juices and other sugar-sweetened beverages count! Sip on calorie-free beverages like water, unsweetened teas and seltzers in place of the high calorie drinks. Don’t like water? Try these low-cal ways to flavor it up >>

10: Not Eating Enough Throughout The Day
Less definitely isn’t always more! Not taking in enough calories throughout the day tanks energy levels, spikes hunger, and leads to overeating later on (when you’re tired and ready to eat everything in sight). Avoid stuffing yourself into the afternoon and evening by spreading out calories starting with a healthy breakfast.

TELL US: What terrible eating habit would you like to break?

Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC, is a registered dietitian, certified athletic trainer and owner of Dana White Nutrition, Inc., which specializes in culinary and sports nutrition. See Dana’s full bio »

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Comments (1,090)

  1. Aida says:

    I know I donot eat enough and problary work out to much…and it seems the scale goes

    Up and own…

    • Jenn says:

      If you are eating below your caloric requirements and exercising a lot, it will be very difficult to lose weight because your body is going to drop your metabolic baseline in a major way- it sounds counter intuitive, but eating MORE and meeting your daily caloric requirement can be what some people need to begin losing weight. Undereating will tell the body that it is starving, and you will burn less calories doing "every day stuff" (sitting, sleeping, digesting) which make up the majority of calories we burn already.

  2. Donna says:

    I definitely don't eat enough during the day and then eat too much at night
    Great food for thought :)

  3. COW J says:

    I snack throughout the day AND I cannot say no to free food. Those aren't listed…

  4. hungryhappyhealthy says:

    I just have to have a nighttime snack…doesn't seem to matter what I do!

  5. aargh42 says:

    Check out and Some really awesome recipes for the plant based whole foods diet.

  6. love to eat says:

    I eat too much at one time, find it hard not to eat the bad things that tase so good and I eat to late at night.

  7. jill says:

    I don't practice portion control when it comes to my steaed (non-starchy) veggies, and I often wonder if that's a mistake. Any advice?

  8. jill says:

    Oops, that's STEAMED veggies.

    • danawhite says:

      Hi Jill – It's harder to go overboard (calorie-wise) with steamed veggie but it never hurts to check your portions to see how much you are eating at each meal. Make sure to account for any condiments you might use (butter, olive oil, salad dressing, etc.). Thanks for your comment!

  9. melanie says:

    I am glad to say I don't do any of those (anymore) but each day, each hour is a decision to eat right. I don't eat fast food unless as a last resort. I only eat out at places I can make a reasonably good choice. I keep no snacks or junk food in the house. I three small meals and two snacks each day. The hardest part of the day is the evening when I am watching TV. I still after four years want to snack but drink water instead.
    I give myself one cheat meal a week to each what I want. It has worked. In 2007 I went from 174lbs to 110lbs and have kept it off. (I do exercise as well – the more you exercise the more you can eat.

    • Not eating together is actually one of my weakness and that's what i thought to have too. Now I realized that having these together can be of big help for me. Thanks a lot for all the help.

  10. seasalt61 says:

    I have several of those and a few more. I know I don't get enough water each day. I also snack to much.
    any sugestions would be great.

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