In an age of junk food, takeaway meals and sedentary living, it’s no surprise that so many of us have developed unhealthy eating habits. It can be difficult trying to break these habits when temptation is all around us. Whether we reach for a cup of coffee in the morning to wake us up, or a chocolate bar as a mid-afternoon snack, many of us have bad eating habits that we tend to indulge on a daily basis.
The Cycle Begins
Bad eating habits are usually developed during our formative years, when we’re less conscious of the effects of food on our health and psyches. In our younger years, we were often uneducated about the impact of food, giving little regard to what we ate or the negative impact it had on our bodies and our emotions. And so began food addictions and learning to manage energy levels through stimulating and sedative foods and drinks.
Reward and Punishment
As we got older, food became a way to reward and punish ourselves. After a long day at work, we might reward ourselves with a glass of wine. Similarly, if we feel down in the dumps we might comfort ourselves by eating junk food. The only way to break unhealthy eating habits like these is by becoming conscious of why we are making these choices in the first place.
Know Your Triggers
There are many different things that can trigger us to make bad choices when it comes to what we eat. For some people it may be hunger, others use food as a way of suppressing emotions, or as a way of giving themselves a boost when they’re feeling tired. Whatever the trigger for your unhealthy eating might be, it’s vital that you recognise it in order to break the unconscious habit. When you find yourself craving junk foods, ask yourself what is triggering this desire. Feeling tired? Hungry? Emotional? Angry? Out of control? Thirsty?
Be Kind to Yourself!
Understanding why you’ve developed the habit to begin with allows you to become more forgiving of yourself, rather than giving yourself a hard time for any unhealthy food choices you might make. Long-term change can only occur from a place of self-love. Trying to change by punishing yourself internally will only further prolong your bad eating habits. So stop beating yourself up.
Find a Healthier Alternative
Replacing negative food choices with healthier alternatives is the last piece of the puzzle. Swap your mid-afternoon biscuit with nuts or seeds, or opt for sliced veggies with a raw pate or dip instead of crisps, or eat medjool dates instead of chocolate. By always making sure you’re stocked up on the good stuff, you’ll find that making healthy food choices is far easier than you imagined. One of the keys to making healthy choices is to keep hydrated, so drink plenty of water and herbal teas too.
Breaking the Cycle
Breaking a lifetime of bad eating habits may seem daunting at first, but with a little time and perseverance, and a healthy dose of self-love, you’ll soon discover that it’s well worth the effort. As well as improving your health and emotional wellbeing, you’ll experience greater self-belief and a sense of personal empowerment. All you have to do is commit to taking that first step and have the patience to watch the bad habits become less and less frequent.
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