Snacking – or eating meals – when you’re not hungry
Losing touch with your body’s natural hunger and fullness signals can lead to chronic overeating, weight gain and metabolic disorders, such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
Snacking or eating meals when you’re not hungry stops you from honoring true physical hunger and instead allows you to feed your emotional hunger, filling things such as boredom, stress, depression, or anxiety. Try eating until no longer hungry, instead of eating until you are full.
By paying attention to your hunger signals, eating adequate protein and fats, you can boost nutrition, control cravings, and avoid energy slumps. Your weight will fall to a healthier level, and you’ll naturally choose more nutritious foods.
How to fix it: Eat because you’re hungry—not because you’re stressed, bored, angry, sad, or any of these other feelings you don’t realize you mistake for hunger. And finish eating when you feel just a little bit full, not stuffed.
When you feel like you want to eat, pause and ask yourself what you’re actually feeling. If it’s not hunger, find a distraction like talking a walk or visiting with a friend or going for a drive – something that takes you out of the environment where you are tempted. This trick works especially well at night when motivation to “eat healthy” wanes.
Other things to try: Reduce your ability to grab unhealthy items by not bringing them home. Make sure you have plenty of options like fresh fruit and veggies on hand. Be sure to fill up on protein when you do eat your meals as it may reduce late-night snacking. Also, when you do eat healthy snacks, eat them on a plate while sitting at the table.
Spending too much time watching TV
A sedentary lifestyle has long been linked to poor health. The less physical activity you get, the greater your odds of being overweight and developing type 2 diabetes.
If television is replacing time you’d otherwise be spending engaged in a favorite hobby, visiting with friends, or exercising, you may also be speeding up memory loss. Exercise and movement can radically improve your physical and mental health. By committing to a reduction in the amount of TV you consume, you can exercise more, becoming more fit, and reduce your odds for related health problems. You may also reduce your anxiety AND strengthen your social connections.
How to fix it: Track how much time you are watching TV and set a goal for what you want to achieve. You could do something dramatic like cut cable or satellite and streaming services. You could replace the TV time with something else like signing up for a class, reading a book or visiting with your family or a friend. You could also use the time to get in some exercise, like walking in place or push-ups, squats and planks, while you’re watching, or use TV time to do your mobility and balance work.
Money worries can have serious health consequences. In a study of 640 middle-age adults, published in 2016 in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine, researchers found that participants going through financial stress had greater levels of inflammation—and not so much because of increased negative emotions, but because of decreased positive ones.
Regaining control over your finances takes time, can be hard on your ego and your lifestyle, and requires constant vigilance. However, the results are worth the sacrifices you have to make.
How to fix it: Take ownership. Track it. Budget for expenses. Keeping track of ever expenditure will help you devise a healthier budget. We spend more than we realize.
Educate yourself on the basic rules and methods of personal finance—including credit cards, mortgages, budgeting, and investing. Sometimes if you don’t understand the system, it becomes easier to neglect it. Get curious. Pay more than the minimum credit card payment. Consider paying off the smaller amounts first OR the ones with the highest interest rates. Use automatic bill pay so that you are not hit with late fees. Finally, ensure some of your paycheck is automatically transferred to a savings account by setting up recurrent transfers. You also might talk to a financial planner for advice.
Eating too much fast food
A steady diet of double cheeseburgers. fries and oversized sodas can lead to weight gain, diabetes and high blood pressure. Typical fast food is high in sugar, sodium, saturated and trans-fats. Additionally, some studies show that fast food consumption contributes to cognitive decline. The health benefits of switching to healthier foods will be almost immediate and deliver substantial lasting benefits.
How to fix it: That’s not to say it will be easy. Fast food is super-convenient, inexpensive, and—thanks to all that fat, salt, and sugar—addictively tasty. While an occasional meal at a fast-food place is fine, too much can be problematic. If you eat at fast-food places daily, a first step would be to reduce the number of trips to 2 times a week. You can also make substitutions for what you order, For instance, instead of a coke or diet coke, opt for water or unsweet tea. Replace the fries with a piece of fruit. If it comes down to poor preparation, spend some time on a weekend or an evening to fix your food for the next few days.
Drinking too much alcohol
Alcohol can contribute to heart and liver disease, cancer, cognitive decline, impaired immunity and chronic inflammation among other things. In a review of studies, published in 2018 in The Lancet, researchers looked at the drinking habits of almost 600,000 people and monitored their health over time. Regardless of gender, higher alcohol consumption was associated with a higher rate of stroke, fatal aneurysms, heart failure, and early death.
Alcohol interferes with the brain’s communication pathways and can affect the way the brain looks and works. Alcohol makes it harder for the brain areas controlling balance, memory, speech, and judgment to do their jobs, resulting in a higher likelihood of injuries and other negative outcomes. Long-term, heavy drinking causes alterations in the neurons, such as reductions in their size.
The good news is that soon after you cut back or quit, you’ll notice improvements in digestion and sleep quality. Your blood sugar will be steadier, your blood pressure may fall toward a healthier range, and even your brain will be sharper. You’ll have a healthier liver and cardiovascular system.
How to fix it: You don’t have to quit, but stick to healthy limits. You’re more likely to sip your drink slowly if you reserve alcohol for meals. And if you can’t stop, acknowledge there might be an addiction. Talk with a health professional and consider contacting a support group. Some other ways that might help are: write it down, set a limit and tell your family, stay busy, choose alcohol-free days, watch social pressure to drink and steer away from those influences, don’t keep alcohol in the house, prioritize sleep and adequate water intake and be kind to yourself.