While a lot of our eating habits are developed later in life, some of them come from our childhood. Being told to “clean your plate” even though you’re already full or eating very quickly to go play outside can have an impact on your adult life, but it’s never too late to change those unhealthy habits! Of course, it’s tough to get rid of old habits, especially when it has to do with eating because it’s an activity that you do several times a day, every day - but it’s not impossible at all!
According to the CDC, the best way to tackle poor eating habits is by taking three steps: reflecting, replacing, and reinforcing.  Reflect on your eating habits and determine which ones are unhealthy and what triggers them, replace those unhealthy habits with healthier ones, and reinforce your new habits by being patient and taking them step by step instead of rushing it. We’ve put together a list of some of the most common unhealthy eating habits that people may or may not notice in their daily lives, as well as how to change them for the better so you can prevent harming your health in the long run.
Eating before bed
Let’s kick this off by saying: eating before bed isn’t necessarily bad! This has been a controversial topic for quite a while, with some studies backing up the negative claims about late-night eating, while others have found no substantial issue with it. Essentially, eating before you go to sleep can have a negative impact on your body and well-being if you eat heavy meals that are filled with carbs and fats, or even if they’re small but spicy or caffeinated. The reason for this is that your body needs to process this food, which doesn’t happen in just a few minutes. It takes a while for the food to get digested, so eating a heavy meal and laying down right after can cause heartburn and acid reflux because of the horizontal position you’re in. Additionally, processed foods and snacks may cause indigestion, so if your last meal of the day consists of some fast food or your favorite candy, you’ll likely have a hard time sleeping and even getting through the next day.
The best way to tackle this is by eating light and healthy! A small bowl of oatmeal and fruit has enough protein and fiber to fill you up, so you don’t feel the need to reach for something else and go to sleep with your stomach full. Some veggies with hummus or even peanut butter (or your favorite nut butter) can also make for a nice dinner. Unfortunately, some people don’t have an option other than to eat something quick before bed because they get home late and need to sleep early, and not everyone has the time or energy to make a healthy dinner. If your routine looks like this, try walking around the house a little bit after you eat to help the food go down and facilitate the digestion process!
Eating very large portions
Usually, people are culturally accustomed to finishing everything that’s on the plate, even if they’re already full. The thing is… All kinds of foods contain calories, so even if you’re eating a healthy meal, giant portions can cause a calorie overload, resulting in the excess calories being deposited as fat in your body. A good way to tackle this problem is by keeping track of your calorie intake and understanding how many calories you need to eat daily, so you can measure your portions more carefully. You can find out exactly how many calories you need to eat by going to the Fit With Iulia Macro Calculator and answering a few questions about yourself, such as your age, weight, and activity level, and we’ll tell you how many calories you should eat in a day, as well as the amount of protein, carbohydrates, and fats. Another good way to fix this problem is by using smaller plates! Take your big plates and store them away, and only keep the small plates around so you can eat less. This will help you better control your portions, and if you’re still hungry after eating then you can just grab some more, but this way you can make sure you’re actually eating out of hunger and not just to finish your food!
It isn’t called the most important meal of the day for nothing! Breakfast is the first meal you eat after you wake up, but many people skip it to save time or because they think that way they can cut down calories. The reality is: breakfast is healthy for you, and you should be having a good breakfast every morning. It doesn’t need to be as soon as you wake up, many people wait a little bit while they do their morning chores or their workout, and then they have breakfast. Now, the reason why breakfast is so important is that it helps stabilize your blood sugar early in the day, preventing you from having sudden food cravings throughout the day and potentially overeating to compensate for the lack of food in the morning. A study published by the Public Health Nutrition journal associates skipping breakfast with a risk of type 2 diabetes, and states that breakfast consumption is potentially important for preventing it. 
Breakfast also helps you start the day off with energy, instead of feeling down from the get-go, so you can take on your day with high spirits! You don’t need to eat a big breakfast, just a healthy meal that has enough nutrients and fiber to keep you sustained until lunch. A great way to make this happen without struggling too much in the morning is by having healthy breakfast foods ready so you can just grab them and eat a nice meal. Healthy foods such as fruit, Greek yogurt, and smoothies are perfect to start the day off on the right foot!
Eating straight from the bag
Opening a box of candy or a bag of chips and eating straight from it doesn’t sound like a good idea, but eating healthy snacks such as trail mix directly from the bag isn’t either! Mindless snacking can lead to overeating, especially if it’s something that you really enjoy and you’re doing something else while you eat, such as watching your favorite tv show or working from your laptop. Even if you pour it in a bowl, the bigger the size of the container, the more likely it that you’ll eat more than you originally planned for because you’re distracted from how full you actually are. The best solution for this is serving your snacks on smaller plates, so you can eat small portions that keep you satisfied without the risk of overindulging! A good idea is pre-portioning your snacks in small bags or containers so you can just grab them when you’re craving something and eat a sufficient amount to tackle your cravings. This is a great way to keep your daily calorie intake at a good level while still enjoying your favorite snacks, whether they’re healthy snacks or the occasional salty chips or ice cream!
Eating too quickly
The food on your plate isn’t going anywhere, but many people don’t even notice that they eat too quickly until someone else points it out. Whether you’re eating quickly because you’re distracted, you’re too hungry, or just because you have somewhere to be, turning this into a habit isn’t healthy for you! When you’re eating and you’re reaching the point of satiety, your stomach starts sending signals to your brain that you feel full and that you can stop eating. But what happens when you eat too quickly is that you don’t give your brain enough time to receive those signals, and when you finally start feeling full you may have already eaten more than you needed, which can lead to weight gain. To prevent this and help slow down your eating, try actually focusing on your food! What we mean by this is: allow yourself to fully enjoy your food by taking small bites and chewing them thoroughly, feeling the texture and the flavor of your food, and putting down your fork or spoon after each bite. This will make a huge difference in your eating times, and you’ll find yourself feeling more satisfied after each meal!
This is probably one of the main unhealthy habits that people struggle with, and we understand why! But letting your emotions dictate your meals throughout the day isn’t the best idea, because you can end up overeating or grabbing not-so-healthy quick foods just to fill that craving. Emotional eating can come from feeling sad, stressed, anxious… Even boredom can make you want to eat something. But eating without being hungry will only fill you up with unnecessary calories, leaving you with a calorie surplus at the end of each day. Assessing your emotions and finding out if you’re truly hungry or not before eating is essential to prevent overeating, so when you feel like reaching for the fridge or the pantry, ask yourself: am I hungry or am I just emotional/bored? If the answer is the second option, turn around and try to distract yourself from wanting to eat. You can take a walk outside, get some household chores done, or just entertain yourself by watching a movie or reading a book. Just try to keep yourself out of the kitchen and your mind focused on other things until you actually feel hungry and are ready for your next meal!
Eating out too often
This may sound like an obvious one, but some people might be surprised to find out that even the healthiest looking foods from their favorite restaurant and food places may not be as healthy as they think. While the food we make at home is usually made with fresh and natural ingredients, that isn’t always the case for store-bought and take-out meals. They usually contain heavily processed ingredients and many additives such as sugar and artificial flavorings to make them tastier, which is why eating out constantly can be harmful to your health. There’s nothing wrong with going once a week to your favorite food place and ordering something tasty, but making it a daily occurrence can fill your body with unwanted calories that you definitely don’t need! Junk food, in particular, can be very harmful to you because of its lack of nutrients and high amounts of unhealthy fats and simple carbs. When in excess, these unhealthy foods can cause health problems such as high cholesterol, heart disease, and obesity.
Not everyone has the time to cook every day and keep a healthy diet, so setting aside one day a week to plan and prep your meals for the week can be a great solution for this. You can even buy ready-to-eat meals at the supermarket if that makes things easier for you, but make sure you read the nutrition label carefully to avoid unwanted ingredients such as added sugars or an excess of calories!
Changing your eating habits might seem challenging at first since you’re so used to doing these things, whether you’re aware of it or not. But you can work toward better and healthier habits by taking it one step at a time and being gentle with yourself! Rushing into it will only make you feel overwhelmed and you might want to give up, so try changing one thing first and keep going from there. It’s important to remember that there aren’t any bad eating habits, only habits that can lead to harmful results if they’re not adjusted with time. Don’t shame yourself or feel guilty because of your eating habits, instead reflect on them and work to change them for the better so you can feel good while leading a healthy and happy life!