Whether its a lifetime of habit, stress, tempting indulgences, or any excuse we may come up with, we could all use a few strategies to control bad eating habits. And interpret this as you will–maybe it means sticking to your diet, maybe it means cutting out an iced chocolate latte a week, maybe its resisting the urge to emotionally eat, or maybe its just not heading straight for the dessert table at the next event. Here are
7 suggestions to help you minimize indulgences and reach your nutritional goals:
1) Reduce Stress
Stress and anxiety are top on the list of factors driving many people to eat, including (confession) me. And stress-induced eating is often worse with poor choices and larger quantity consumed.
Each person needs to find their own method to relieve stress and anxiety, but some options are:
- Deep breathing
- Talking about it
- Free writing
- Spending time with people who bring us joy
2) Find emotional/psychological contentment
If we’re not feeling fulfilled in our relationships, personal, or professional life we may seek to sabotage what we do have and oftentimes that can be through eating. Or we try to fill the void and emptiness that is felt when we don’t feel satisfied in life, and eating to the point of being stuff is one perceived way to do that.
It can be an endless struggle or at least an uphill battle to find contentment, but it is possible. Some pursuits that may help:
- Engaging with people who bring us joy
- Setting challenging but attainable goals and reaching them
- Being responsible for our own happiness and not relying on someone else
3) Curb cravings by eliminating triggers
When you eat something such as pasta, grains, or other starches, your body craves even more higher carbohydrate items to feel satisfied. This is why if you just finished a large pasta meal, afterward you want dessert. Non-veg carbs induce further starch and sugar cravings. Same with salty foods such as potato chips. It’s nearly impossible to have 1 chip or 1 nut. You feel like you must eat more.
So my solution is, don’t start. No grains, starches, chips, salted nuts or anything else that’ll make you eat more than you should. And for more tips on this, read my post: Curb carb cravings
4) Remove decisions from the eating process
If I have a choice of an apple or a candy bar, it can be hard to make the right choice. But if I challenge my friend that I’m going to go 15 days with no candy bars, that takes the choice out of it–I will have the apple.
If you never put the bad food option on the table (figurative or literal), then it never ends up in your mouth. Don’t allow decision-making into the process and then you won’t risk being in a situation of low willpower and make the wrong decision. Set clear guidelines from the get-go what you will and won’t eat, and avoid the slippery slope.
5) Choose good (whole) foods so bad ones aren’t as tempting
Sometimes we eat because we need certain nutrients, but without knowing which ones or being incredibly in touch with our body to find out what it really needs, we just eat. And unfortunately the most convenient foods are often the worst for us.
Fill up on veggies, low-glycemic fruits, eggs, protein, and other nutrient-dense foods. When you’re providing your body the best nutrition and getting all your vitamins and minerals, there’s less inclination to eat junk.
6) Think about what food texture you’re craving
So if number #5 is the body driving you to eat something, oftentimes we’re also driven by the way something feels in the mouth: the texture or mouth feel. Sometimes we want something with crunch or to really chew on, other times we want something smooth and creamy.
Seek out healthy recipes that fill those urges and satisfy a variety of textures. One of my personal favorites when I’m craving the cold creaminess of ice cream is an avocado shake made with (almond) milk and ice.
7) Increase variety of flavors for added satiety
Likewise with number six, sometimes we just need more complexity in our diet. Food that doesn’t satisfy our taste buds leaves us wanting more: think about why you have dessert at a mediocre restaurant but rarely at a gourmet restaurant. The gourmet restaurant has pleased your palate.
What would you add to this list? What techniques do you use to control bad eating habits?
Photo courtesy of Flickr user: Kai Hendry