Habit #1 – Drinking Sweet Soda
People think that regular soda is evil, and diet one is good. However, that’s far from the truth. Yes, the regular version is packed with a lot of sugar and not much else, but its “light” version isn’t any better.
Besides containing artificial sweeteners – can be dangerous in large quantities – diet sodas are also a poor substitute for the water that you should be drinking enough throughout the day.
Pay attention: The world is full of pure water to drink, and until the 20th-century humans seemed fine with that. Coca-Cola, however, has made every American (and many people around the globe) feel like they need a sip of sugar every ten minutes.
Habit #2 – Focusing on Low Fat Foods
The problem with eating low-fat foods (especially dairy products) is that they’re one-sided. For example, protein is crucial to every aspect of the body’s maintenance but often comes with fats attached (think bacon, fried eggs, or cheese).
These nutrients are not inherently evil, and, in fact, a lack of protein can severely hinder your weight loss efforts. Fat is not that bad, it just adds up quickly.
Keep in mind: Fatty foods are denser, so you have to be aware of that when portioning and planning your meals!
Habit #3 – Skipping Breakfast, Lunch or Dinner
Each meal plays a particular role during your day. Many men and women have a habit of skipping breakfast altogether. Often, thanks to this we feel less hungry throughout the morning and may not even starve for lunch.
That makes us feel like we’re losing weight, or that we’re virtuous because we’re not eating as much. However, this comes with a price.
Your body is trying to save a lot of energy during that time. Therefore, you will feel tired and weak. Try exercising in the morning and see if you still don’t want anything to eat, as:
- Hearty breakfast tells your body that there’s no famine, and it can still power you to your fullest potential.
- Lunch, of course, helps you going through the long afternoon hours.
- Dinner, too, helps your metabolism keep up its pace and energy until you go to sleep.
Keep in mind: Skipping any one of your main meals can put your organism into semi-starvation mode, which isn’t good for your weight loss plan from a long-term perspective.
Habit #4 – Eating Out of Big Packages
This bad habit is hard in the United States! Everything in the grocery store is “Family Packed” and “Value Sized“, and the lower prices make those big containers really tempting.
Once it’s in your house, you’re one stressful day at work away from sitting on the couch with that gallon of ice cream until there isn’t a spoonful left.
Tiny packages, like 100-calorie packs, or even splitting large containers into smaller ones at home, can completely avoid this conundrum.
Keep in mind: Saving containers and plastic bags and sealers are so abundant nowadays that there’s no need to leave anything in a giant package unless you’re going to serve it all for dinner or at a party the next day!
Habit #5 – Lack of Protein in Your Daily Menu
Despite the government’s beef and dairy subsidies to farmers, Americans seem not to understand the value and variety of protein available to them. Vegetarians and vegans are especially at risk of not getting enough of this substance, which can cause all sorts of health problems, from eyesight issues to anemia.
People are also unaware of all the ways they can get it – aside from regular meat. Many foods are rich in protein, including fish, cheese, yogurt, nuts, tofu, eggs, and more.
Pay attention: Any of these sources, even in small amounts, can really bolster your diet to provide the lasting energy you need to work at the office and work out at the gym.
Habit #6 – Taking Big Bites
Much like eating too fast, having huge bites creates the illusion of a smaller meal – bigger means fewer, and you’re likely not to chew those big bites any longer than the regular ones.
These “shark bites” also make it hard to enjoy your meal.
The key to appreciating and being satisfied with smaller meals is to eat in proportion to what you have. If there’s very little of something, take just small morsels so you can taste the flavors more fully.
Pay attention: If there’s a lot, take slightly bigger bites. You don’t have to eat all that is on your plate. It’s not wasteful to throw away food rather than dump it on your metabolism, which puts it right on your belly and hips.
Habit #7 – Not Drinking Enough Water
We people tend to forget easily to drink, especially in the winter months when we’re not sweating. The recent explosion of water bottles and filters is partially in response to this, but it can’t fix the fact that we often don’t realize we are thirsty until we’re severely dehydrated.
However, liquids are needed for your body to function properly. This includes weight loss, and as a bonus, it makes you feel full.
Keep in mind: Foods that are recommended for weight loss are very high in water content because they make you feel like you’re taking in a ton of fuel when you’re really just self-hydrating. Water in your belly is no substitute for a healthy diet, but it definitely helps avoid binging or thinking you’re hungry when you’re not!
Habit #8 – Not Enjoying Your Meal & Eating Too Quickly
In the past few years, many studies have looked at the way Americans eat when compared to Europeans, Africans, and Asians. These are aimed at finding out why the U.S. is such an obese country, and one of the differences they have consistently found is that Americans don’t savor meals.
We prefer to grab a sandwich “on the go” and consume it in the car or eat a bowl of cereal in front of the computer in the morning rather than to prepare our meals carefully and eat them slowly. Time is of the essence, and people in the U.S. have taken this to mean that eating should be a fast activity.
Keep in mind: This expectation has led to fast meals, which leads to overeating because you’re overfull before you even know you’re not hungry anymore. Consuming more slowly allows your body’s hunger and satiety mechanisms to keep up with your mouth and tell you the right time to put the fork down.
Habit #9 – Lack of Sleep & Its Abundance
The problem with lack of sleep is critical and also very simple – when you don’t have enough rest, your mind and body don’t operate efficiently. Being always tired does not allow you to exercise your willpower efficiently and decreases the quality of your choices, including food.
Pay attention: Too much sleep, of course, means you’re not using much energy, and so the same amount of food will turn more readily into fat than if you were up and mobile for sixteen hours.
Habit #10 – Serving Your Meal on Large Plates
The American-sized restaurant dinner plate is eleven to twelve inches across – almost twice as large as an average one in Europe. We have the idea that bigger is better, and this apparently applies to our dishes as well as our SUVs and houses.
Why does it matter how big our dishes are?
Well, because our eyes and brains can’t really tell the difference between a large meal on a large plate and a tiny amount of food on a small one. Visually, these seem like the same.
Pay attention: In other words, the smaller your dish is, the smaller your ideal portion is likely to be – we want to fill most of the plate. Smaller plates have less space around the meal on them, so they make portions seem larger, which is good for eating just the amount you need and no more.
Habit #11 – Eating Artificial Sweeteners
Although we now know the dangers of excessive sugar and insulin resistance, Americans are drinking less sweet soda than ever – but replacing it with artificial versions of the same thing.
The problem here is twofold.
When you taste diet soda, your body still thinks it’s getting sugar, so it gears up appropriately to use the fuel – and then doesn’t get it.
Keep in mind: This leads to problems with metabolism and more sugar cravings. The other problem is that you’re still priming yourself to crave sweet snacks all the time, which is a habit that can and should be broken.
Habit #12 – Not Measuring Your Weight
Nobody likes to weigh her- or himself, but it’s a crucial step in effective weight loss. There are many technological tools available to help you track your body size as well as a myriad of other things.
These should include your heart rate and paces per day, eaten calories, body fat percentage, and much more.
If you don’t weigh yourself, though, you can’t know if you’re moving forward or backward in your journey. You also can’t make adjustments based on the changes, or congratulate yourself when you get to your goal weight.
Keep in mind: Although fitting into certain clothes may be a good secondary goal, it’s not measurable or scientific the way a scale is.