Overweight Because You Have Unhealthy Eating Habits?
When people say they
have unhealthy eating habits, they are
usually talking about eating junk food, fast food, greasy fried foods,
candy, sodas, cakes, cookies, pastries, and more. Most people think
they can recognize an unhealthy food when they see
habit of eating flesh foods, eggs, and dairy
products is also an unhealthy eating habit.
It is a bad American habit.
Even worse, U.S. food corporations are spreading unhealthy
and bad eating habits around the world.
Ethical vegans sometimes have poor eating habits.
They eat any processed food that tastes good, as long as the
didn't come from an animal.
These vegans eventually get fat and/or
sick, just like meat-eaters.
Have you ever wondered why some
people eat junk food and others eat healthy foods? Bad habits or good
habits, what is a habit and how do we develop them?
Forming our habits
Habits are behaviors that we do almost unconsciously. We encounter a
stimulus and we respond. Our alarm clock (the
stimulus) goes off in the morning and we get up (the
response). We wash our face and brush our teeth. We get dressed.
These habits don't require much thought. We do them
and we have for years.
are useful because they save us time and
mental energy. We don't have to think about other possible
responses to the stimulus. We don't have to make any decisions. We just
act automatically. It is easy and not stressful. We can think about
other things or talk to people while we act.
form habits by repetition
and practice. The first time we respond to a stimulus in a
way, our brain creates a neural pathway linking the stimulus and our
response. If we get a reward for practicing that behavior, our brain
makes the pathway a little stronger. Getting up, getting dressed, and
going to work enables us to earn money to live on.
second time we respond to a stimulus the same way, our brain
strengthens that pathway a little bit more. After a number of
repetitions and rewards, we have formed a habit. Many habits are good,
but some can make us fat and sick, like unhealthy eating habits.
first time we see an unhealthy food and decide to eat it, our brain
creates a link (neural pathway) between seeing that food (the stimulus)
and eating it (our response). If the food is delicious and fun to eat
(our reward), the link gets stronger. If we repeat this behavior often,
eating that food becomes a habit.
We eat certain foods in a given situation
because we have eaten them
many times before in that situation:
- We eat popcorn and candy
- We eat ice cream while we watch TV.
- A friend offers
us a snack. We accept it and eat it.
- When we visit our parents, we eat
foods that we ate when we lived with them.
The more we practice habits, the stronger the
habits become. If we have any hope of changing our unhealthy eating
habits, we must become
consciously aware of every food decision we make.
This conscious awareness is difficult. We have to think about our
actions, make different decisions, and actually plan in advance how we
will respond to common stimuli.
A team of psychologists
studied people who successfully made important lifestyle changes. The
six-stage program they created teaches people step by step how to
break bad habits. You can use it for unhealthy eating habits,
alcohol, drugs, and many other bad habits.
Eating the wrong foods is a bad habit. But even if we
usually eat the right foods, there are some other
lifestyle habits that can make us fat:
breakfast. Studies show that people who skip breakfast do
eat fewer calories
during a day than those who eat breakfast. However, they gain
more weight than people who eat breakfast!
How can this be? Researchers think it is because
breakfast-skippers go too many hours without eating; their body senses
it is entering a time of famine and it slows their metabolism to save
out for lunch. Restaurant food is
guaranteed to make you fat. Nearly all restaurants add extra fat,
sugar, and salt to food to "hook" you on their meals. They create food
with intensely good flavors so you will become a repeat customer. It's
all about the money, not about keeping you healthy and slim.
Going out to eat might trigger old eating habits you are trying to
break. You may
plan to order a salad but change
your mind when you see and smell the meals your friends
order. Begin forming a new habit: bring a brown bag lunch to work. It
and you will save money too.
out for dinner. You know that restaurant food is
unhealthy. Don't let it be a habit. Save it for special
occasions. Keep some cooked
brown rice, beans, and vegetables in the freezer for
when you are too tired to chop a vegetable.
Make a rule that you
will not eat anything after
8 pm. If you have formed a habit of eating in front of the TV, create a
new habit. Read, work a puzzle, or call a friend on the phone. You
don't need extra calories late at night. You will sleep better and you
will be hungry for breakfast.