Author Bio: Angela is a fitness guru and freelance writer for a fitness website. She is a part-time trainer for a local gym and loves helping others achieve their goals. She can be found playing with her dog if she is not busy working.
It seems as if tempting unhealthy food choices are too easily accessible. Grocery stores often place unhealthy foods which people crave at the end of the aisle to capture your attention. The good news is that healthy eating can be learned. A first step in this direction is identifying the unhealthy eating habits and then replacing them with healthy ones. Combine this with a great workout routine and you will feel more energetic, self-confident, and live a longer more enjoyable life.
1. Eating on the Run
People are in a constant state of motion as they hurry from place to place. People may either skip a meal or grab a bite on the road at a fast food chain. It is also tempting at the end of a busy work day to stop through the drive-thru window and grab a quick meal. However, greasy foods loaded with sodium, fat and calories not only put on the weight but also cause health risks such as high cholesterol, diabetes, hypertension and heart disease. Some tips to follow when being out on the run include:
• Preparation: A little preparation can go a long way. Simply keeping a small insulated cooler in the car and filling it with healthy food options before you go out will keep the temptation to eat fast food at bay.
• Plan Ahead: Take some time out before heading to the grocery store to make a list of the food you will need for the week. Making a list helps to keep you focused on the healthy food choices you need instead of being distracted by the endless number of tempting unhealthy items which the store often places in big displays to capture your attention.
There are quick and easy alternatives to fast food. However, when the time is really tight, many fast food chains are offering healthy food alternatives including some listed below. Some healthy food alternatives to fast food include:
• Lean lunch meat sandwiches
• Grilled chicken sandwiches
• Salads with reduced fat dressing
• Fresh fruits and vegetables
• Reduced fat frozen yogurt
• Baked potato
• Bottled water
• Reduced fat milk
2. Skipping Breakfast
Some people may skip breakfast either because they are in a hurry or mistakenly use it as a weight loss strategy. However, skipping breakfast can actually contribute to weight gain due to over-eating at other meals. Skipping breakfast can also reduce the ability to concentrate on the morning tasks at work or school. Breakfast containing protein and fiber can help you get through the morning hours. Some healthy breakfast choices which are easy to make include:
• Low-fat meat
• Reduced fat dairy products
• Whole grain cereal and bread
3. Emotional Eating
When stress builds up during the day, it can be tempting to find release through eating comfort foods such as pizza, fried chicken and macaroni and cheese. Emotional eating occurs when people eat food instead of dealing with stuffed emotions such as anger or sadness. Some ways of dealing with emotional eating include:
• Halt: When tempted to turn to comfort food, pause to ask yourself if you are really hungry. There is a difference between physical and emotional hunger. If identified as emotional hunger, ask yourself what you are feeling.
• Identify Emotions: Identifying emotions can put you in control instead of avoiding and stuffing the feelings.
• Select a Healthy Emotional Release: Once identified, the emotion can be dealt with through healthy outlets such as journaling or exercise.
4. Food Cravings
People can crave certain foods which often contribute to unhealthy eating. People may eat certain foods because of desiring a physiological outcome such as a “sugar rush”. It may also be due to a food addiction. Helpful ways of dealing with food cravings include:
• Keep Food Culprits Out of the House: If you know you have a tendency to crave certain foods such as chips or cookies, keep them out of the house. If you still crave the food, you have time to think about what you are doing on the way to the store.
• Moderation is Key: It is important to eat all types of food in moderation. Although avoiding trigger foods is healthy, completely forbidding certain foods can actually increase the craving for that food item. A diet plan which is extremely restrictive can actually lead to binge eating of the forbidden foods.
Sweet and salty foods are two common culprits. Healthy alternatives for foods which you crave include:
• Sunflower seeds
• Frozen or regular low-fat yogurt
• Granola or protein bars
Some people have grown up with their parents telling them to eat everything on their plate. This leaves people feeling guilty if food is wasted. However, in the age of “super-sized” helpings, moderation is a trait which can be learned with these helpful ideas:
• Drink Water: Drinking water with your meals can help you become full quicker and not over-eat.
• Eat Slowly: Taking the time to enjoy the food you are eating gives you the needed time for the digestive tract to begin processing the food. In this way, you are alert to the time when you get full.
• Stop When You are Full: When you notice that your stomach is full, stop eating immediately no matter how much food is still left on the plate.
Making the Right Choice
Although unhealthy food choices can taste good and satisfy temporary cravings, they contribute to health problems such as diabetes and hypertension. As you become aware of your unhealthy eating habits, you can start eating healthier with simple steps. You can begin eating in moderation, stopping the meal when you are full and selecting healthy food alternatives to replace those foods which you craved.