Do you mindless eat in front of the tv? Or lurch from one diet to the next?
Sometimes we need to change our eating habits to improve health. We all want quick fixes like a pill or a magic supplement to help us be healthier, but often changes in our day to day lives is what will make the difference.
This is quite bad news because changing habits is hard!
But here are some of the reasons why we develop bad habits and how you can address them to create healthy eating habits.
1. Eating what everyone else is
If everyone around you eats unhealthily it’s easier to believe it’s not that bad. When you’re trying to make changes to your diet you might start to notice there are other ways to eat, drink and live.
It can be really hard to be the one to break with the social norms around you and say you don’t want to drink, or you want to go for a run, when people don’t see that as ‘you’.
We can slip into unhealthy habits by trying to fit in socially, even when we want to make a change.
Healthy Eating Tip – Explain your reasons for making your changes to your social circle. Your friends and family will still love you if you choose not to have the crisps, or you decide to take up an exercise class.
2. Lack of nutrition understanding
We don’t get taught about nutrition at school, and even doctors don’t really get taught nutrition at medical school, so it’s not surprising as a population we don’t have a good understanding of what food does to our body.
Creating healthy eating habits can take a strong mind when there are tempting fast food options all around.
I’m no longer surprised when clients genuinely don’t know about the basics of nutrition, because how should we know?
Coupled with lack of education about nutrition and cooking there is a huge amount of conflicting information online with different advice. Go low carb, carbs are evil! Focus on protein! Eat only fat and protein (keto)! Eat only plant based foods!
Healthy Eating Tip – There are ways to educate yourself on nutrition. My 60 day course will give you a good foundation understanding of how to build a healthy diet for you – Easy Route To Digestive Health
3. Not listening to your body
We have busy lives and perhaps you run out the door without breakfast in the morning, then you grab a cookie with your morning coffee at work so your blood sugars are crashing by lunchtime.
Perhaps you forget to drink water, so you think you feel hungry, but actually you’re very thirsty.
It’s easy when we’re rushing about to miss the signals from our body.
When we ignore or misunderstand our body’s signals for hunger and thirst, we may end up eating food that doesn’t support our health.
If you get over hungry by missing a meal then it’s more likely you’ll grab convenience food higher in sugars, fats and salt to fill the gap.
Perhaps you also can’t stop eating, and you have lost connection to the sensations of feeling full. This can happen when you regularly eat more than your body needs.
It’s also much easier to eat more than your body needs if you eat very quickly. This is because your satiety triggers don’t have time to register.
Healthy Eating Tip – Before you reach for another biscuit, consider if you’re thirsty, tired, bored or whether you need some food that is going to give you energy. Get back in touch with your feelings of appetite – when are you really hungry, and when do you feel full.
4. Emotional Eating
When you crave more love, support or connection you may turn to food. Maybe you eat to stop uncomfortable emotions. Looking at the source of our emotional discomfort and how we can address it may help to change your eating habits.
Healthy eating habits is more than just food
Healthy Eating Tip – Look into talking therapy which can really help support your emotions. Exercise also helps to let off steam in a healthy way and can support feelings of stress, anger or guilt.
5. Habitual snacking
Do you always have some food next to you whilst you’re working? Or maybe you always have a biscuit with your tea when you first get in the house?
Whatever it is these routines become part of our reward structures and we can feel like we’re missing out if we change these habit.
Most people should be able to last between meals without snacking. If you can’t last for 4-5 hours, then look at what you’re eating at mealtimes to ensure it’s got enough protein, fats and fibre to fill you up.
Healthy Eating Tip – look at what triggers the habit you want to change. If you always have a biscuit with your tea then drink your tea in a different place in the house, or chose water instead so you’re breaking the association. Or move the snacks away from your desk so you need to get up and consciously move to eat them rather than eating without thinking.
Also – taking up a craft to do in the evenings whilst watching tv instead of eating can help keep your hands busy.
Hi I'm Anna Mapson, registered Nutritionist (mBANT, CNHC). I specialise in all things ‘digestive health’ and I help people with their IBS symptoms.
I can help you to:
- track your symptoms in a really simple but meaningful way to understand them better
- rebalance your digestive system
- access group support to make long lasting changes to your digestive health
“Anna is amazing! I feel totally transformed"
To find more about out how I work and how I’ve helped people just like you, see my IBS Diet support page