A lot of factors develop eating habits. When a person chose to eat, many factors are included behind the process. The choice of a certain food represents social and economic status culture, sentiments, emotion, mood, and taste. The primary purpose of eating is to survive and get energy.
But the choices we make in our daily food intake have an impact on our overall health
Especially when it comes to heart, blood sugar, blood cholesterol, hypertension, and metabolic syndromes, our eating habits significantly affect our health.
A new study shows that the foods you eat influence your risk of dying from heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes. A well-balanced diet includes fresh fruits and vegetables, legumes and lentils, nuts and seeds, whole grains, lean meat, poultry, fish, and low-fat milk products. But bad eating habits can destroy the balance and lead to poor nutrition in the long term.
Some common bad eating habits are skipping breakfast or other meals, binge-eating, snacking on unhealthy foods, late-night snacking, eating too quickly, always cleaning your plate, eating when not hungry, and eating mindlessly. A balanced diet and healthy eating habits affect health in many ways.
Mental Health Studies have shown that a diet rich in vitamins and minerals is associated with good mental health and lowers the risk of mental health disorders such as anxiety, depression, eating disorders, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). A healthy diet and healthy eating habits affect physical health and support mental health.
Healthy Weight a healthy diet helps maintain healthy body weight without losing vital nutrients from the body. If you pay attention to your eating habits and pattern, eat mindfully, limit the portion size, stop eating when you are full and don’t eat too fast, it can help you reach a healthy weight.
Disease Prevention Columbia University reports that dietary behavior is directly linked to three leading causes of death: coronary heart disease, stroke, and some cancers. To prevent these health issues, you need to keep control of your blood sugar, blood cholesterol, blood pressure, and body weight, and this is possible with a healthy diet and exercise. When a regular physical activity and a healthy diet are combined, this can prevent such conditions. A consistent healthy lifestyle boosts your metabolism, enhances immunity, prevents diseases, enhances mental health, and increases the body’s productivity.
Source of essential nutrients your one meal may don’t contain all the nutrients you need, while most foods contain more than one nutrient. That’s why a well-balanced diet contains various foods to cope with all the nutrition the body needs. Carbohydrates, protein, and fats are the macronutrients.
These provide energy in the form of calories. Still, mainly carbohydrates provide energy, fats help in absorbing vitamins, and protein is responsible for growth, maintenance, proper functioning, and muscle tissues’ structural support. Along with macronutrients, your body also needs micronutrients. Vitamins and minerals are micronutrients. Vitamin A, B, C, D, K, E, iron, calcium, zinc, potassium, and magnesium are important vitamins and minerals.
These vitamins and minerals can be found in every food in trace amounts. But these trace amounts are so necessary for proper growth and development, metabolism, and enzymatic reactions.
How to improve eating habits and make a change
It’s a fact that eating healthy makes your life better and comfortable. But you cannot change your eating habits all of a sudden. It’s a gradual process and demands a lot of consistency and patience.
The following are some helpful tips to improve your lifestyle with some healthy eating habits.
- Get more fruits and vegetables in a day. Aim for four servings of fruits and five servings of veggies every day.
- Try to substitute sugar with honey and fruits when you experience sugar cravings.
- Make efforts to put less salt on your foods day by day.
- Keep a water bottle with you all the time and aim to drink 8-12 glasses of water a day.
- Pay attention to your portions. Fill half plate with veggies and lentils, fill quarter with poultry, fish, or lean meat and fill other quarter with whole grains.
- Planning is a must. Shop and prepare food items that you need. Plan the foods for the whole week and prepare them accordingly. It will help you to avoid junk foods and will save you money and time.
- Eat more slowly and pay attention to what you are eating. Avoid watching TV, reading, and talking when you eat. Don’t eat in a hurry.
- Avoid eating large meals. Plan your meals in small portions.
- Read food labels and get knowledge of what you are eating.
- Bring your lunch to work or school.
- Keep a journal with you and write down every time you eat something you were not supposed to eat.
Eating healthy is vital for every person. Your goal can be to lose some weight, lower blood pressure, or enjoy healthy living, but the key is a balanced diet with physical activity. Small changes in behavior and lifestyle can make significant differences.
Written by: Talha Ahmad (Clinical Dietitian)