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 »