Breaking Harmful Eating Habits and Building Better Ones

By Isabelle Laker
9 January 2018

2018 goals

It’s the beginning of the year and we’ve all made resolutions big and small for 2018. Among the most popular have to be fitness and nutrition goals. Get fit, eat healthy. It’s so easy to say them, and become disheartened when you don’t know how to go about achieving them. After all, ‘get fit and eat healthy’ are very broad goals. 


These aren’t resolutions that can be achieved overnight, and require shifting habits that you may have had for years. Skipping breakfast in the morning and having chips in your desk drawer at work may be exactly what’s bringing you undone. After all, our diets are made up of lots of different little things we do every day. If you can work at breaking some of the more harmful habits that you don’t even realise you have and developing healthier ones, you’ll be well on our way to a sustainable diet and lifestyles. Here are four strategies to banish bad habits and develop healthy ones in 2018! 

 

Plan your meals 

shopping list

It seems too simple, but sitting down for a few minutes before a Sunday shop may be the most important thing you can do to finally kick your poor eating habits. Not only will you save money by not ordering last minute takeaways, you will save calories and time. It’s too easy to fall into the trap of picking up something quick for lunch or dinner. These options are usually more expensive and highly processed, stripped of nutritional value and packed with added sugars, sodium and preservatives. Portion sizes in packaged pre-prepared meals and restaurants can also throw you off and you may end up eating more than you anticipate. 

 

By planning out your meals and snacks for the week, you can significantly reduce the need to opt for these fast foods. Either buy what you need to make a simple and healthy dish for each meal of the week, or try meal prepping. Preparing meals in advance isn’t just for athletes but is a great way to stay on top of your nutrition. Pick balanced meals that you love and make them in bulk at the beginning of the week. That way you know you have a great meal waiting for you at home and won’t feel as tempted to duck into the local takeaway shop. You can mix them up by changing the protein or veggies, but still follow the basic guide. Here are a bunch of great meal prep options you can try! 

meal prep

 

You should also stock up on fresh fruits and veggies to snack on during the day. If you have them on hand, you’re far more likely to reach for healthier options without even realising it. The same goes for the processed, unhealthy snacks. If you simply don’t buy them and keep them lying around, you will find yourself far less tempted to indulge yourself. When your body is sated with healthy, low GI foods, it will crave these processed foods less and less. 

 

Eat breakfast 

breakfast

First things first: breakfast. The most important meal of the day. You’ve probably heard by now that skipping breakfast is a big nutritional no-no. It seems like an easy way to cut calories, but not eating in the morning is a sure fire way to ensure you snack more and eat more during meals. Not only that, it will impact your glucose levels and your metabolism, making you feel sluggish throughout the day and cause you to burn less calories. 

 

The reason people commonly give for skipping breakfast is that they don’t have time. Rather than preparing a meal in the morning when you’ve just woken up, you should try prepping the night before. Overnight oats are a great option because not only are they super easy to make, you can customise your recipe to maximise nutrition and include a range of nuts, seeds and fruit that you like! Start yourself off by checking out this recipe for protein-packed vegan overnight oats

 

If you’re committed to your New Year’s nutritional resolutions this year, try waking up 10-15 minutes earlier and sitting down to a hearty breakfast. This will set you up for the day and give you a boost to tackle those other harmful habits! 

 

Be present 

watching tv and eating

It’s so easy to finish off the packet of chips that you’re eating while watching TV on the couch and sit on your phone at dinner then go back for seconds. ‘Distracted eating’ can lead to overeating because it becomes very difficult to stay in tune with your body and recognise when you’re full, and to measure how much you’re actually eating. Have a designated place in the house to eat. Make it a no-technology, no-books, no-newspapers, no-magazines zone. Try to eat all your meals there at roughly the same time each day. Routine and properly portioned meals are two great ways to ensure that you don’t skip meals and then overcompensate by snacking or overeating later. 

 

If you do want to have a snack while watching a movie, measure it out first and put it in another bowl so that you know how much you’re actually eating. 

 

Approach nutrition holistically

Good nutrition doesn’t exist on its own, it is part of an overall lifestyle and is unique to everyone. You cannot maintain a balanced diet if you’re running on no sleep, you’re dehydrated and you’re not exercising. As much as we like to ignore it, we need to look at our lifestyles and determine if any of our other habits are effecting our nutrition and causing us to stray from our goals. 

exercise

Exercise definitely won’t make up for poor nutrition, but it will boost your metabolism and leave you feeling better. Exercising isn’t an excuse to go and treat yourself, and hopefully it will have the opposite effect and prompt reflection on which foods you’re fuelling your body with. Is that second serving really worth it, when you’ve just spent an hour working hard to shift calories? Start small – you won’t be running a marathon straight away – and be consistent. A little bit every day is always better than nothing, and eventually it will become a regular part of your life

 

In this blog, we went over the importance of hydration on health, and specially weight loss, as thirst is too often mistaken for hunger. We’ve also been over the effects of sleep on your body’s ability to develop muscle, and discuss just how much sleep you should be getting each night (ideally between seven and nine hours each night) and also talks you through the benefits of True Protein’s sleep-boosting supplement ZMA

 

 

Final thoughts

Don’t be disheartened if you find it tough to break your lingering bad habits and start new one, it takes about a month for behaviours to become habits. Also, you won’t be able to achieve your goals with sheer willpower alone. You need to change your environment so that the temptation to fall back into these harmful habits is minimised. Everyone is different, and finding the right balance for you will take time and experimentation. Not everyone eats perfectly all the time, and it is absolutely normal (even encouraged) to allow yourself a cheat day once a week or so. It may be a slow process, but if you are realistic and persistent, you can certainly achieve your nutrition goals in 2018! 

 

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