10 Unintentional Habits That Wreck A Healthy Eating Plan

Nutrition experts generally agree there are no “good” or “bad” foods; moderation and consistency over perfection are crucial to building a healthy relationship with food and reaching your goals.

But it can be easy to slip into unhealthy eating habits — whether it’s becoming used to dinner dates with Netflix, midnight snacking, or not making enough time for meals throughout your workday. Developing positive eating habits (and thus an even healthier diet) doesn’t need to be complicated or time-consuming.

The following are common mistakes we tend to make, and tips to develop an effective nutritional regimen to foster life-long healthy habits.


Bad Habit #1

Not Shopping At The Supermarket

Although it might seem obvious, getting groceries can be inconvenient for home cooking ingredients. Many avoid it altogether as a source of discomfort, but building this healthy habit may take slightly changing your schedule or finding a different store with better shopping experiences – something worth putting the time and energy into for optimal health outcomes!

Solution: To maximize efficiency when visiting the store, plan your meals and compile an accurate list of what you require – don’t forget about browsing through pantry items too (see #2)


Bad Habit #2

Not Stocking Your Pantry

Stocking your pantry may seem similar to grocery shopping, but it is worth discussing separately. Even if the only fresh item you have available is an onion, having a stocked pantry could still help get dinner on the table and reduce takeout expenses. In reality, you also have access to zucchini, an old crown of broccoli, and eggs; all it takes to create delicious meals from them is creative thinking and imagination!

Solution: Stock your pantry with nutritious items such as dried grains, beans, lentils, canned tomatoes, dried herbs, coconut milk, tuna salmon, sardine tuna pasta, etc. For even greater ease, consider keeping frozen veggies, lean meats, and leftovers in your freezer to simplify meal planning!


Bad Habit #3

Not Eating Your Veggies

Only 9 percent of Americans meet their daily veggie requirements, which could be an unpleasant shock to many. Not getting enough vegetables every day could do irreparable damage to your health: Vegetables provide many health-enhancing benefits ranging from anti-inflammatory and immune-protecting antioxidants, gut-friendly fiber, vitamin A to zinc micronutrients and many more. Increasing veggie consumption may help you meet weight-loss goals more successfully.

Solution: Make starting each day right with vegetables: savory oats, scrambles, and breakfast burritos are great ways to start eating more veggies. Many people only consume their first vegetable at dinner time — usually just a tiny portion sitting on their side plate! By including vegetables early and throughout each meal or snack (such as hummus with vegetables or snow peas with tahini sauce, snow tahini sauce, side salads, stirred vegetable pasta dishes, tacos, etc….), it becomes part of your routine. It makes eating them an enjoyable habit that keeps on giving!


Bad Habit #4

Eating In Front Of The TV

Have you ever experienced the disappointment of an out-of-season tomato? Once tasted, its bland flavor can’t compare with juicy summer tomatoes bursting with juicy goodness. Discovering seasonal produce can be life-changing for veggie-haters who wish they ate more of it on their plates!

Solution: Shopping at your local farmers market can be beneficial in many ways. Not only is seasonal produce often tastier and more nutritious, but fresher veggies tend to retain their vitamins better over time than those stored away or transported, so investing more time and money to find quality produce could pay dividends when it comes time to consume it!


Bad Habit #5

Skipping Meals

Eating while engaging with social media, email or watching a show” can be tempting – yet overeating is easy when eating in front of a screen. Distracted eating means our bodies take longer to register when we’re full; the taste is diminished since our attention is drawn away from what’s on the plate towards what’s on the screen than on our plate itself!”

Solution: Make mealtime something you look forward to by ditching your screens and sitting down with loved ones for a meal, perhaps with candles lit around your table setting. Pro tip: Enjoy your food more by chewing slowly and appreciating all its flavors, suggests Schapiro; this helps stay present while eating and prevent overeating while your shows still exist in the background.


Bad Habit #6

Not Drinking Enough Water

Skipping meals will only hinder your productivity – leaving you sluggish, moody, and hungry while slowing your metabolism. Your body is playing catch up.

Solution: Plan meals like you would meetings — breakfast within 60-90 minutes of waking up and meals every 3-4 hours. If you tend to skip them, placing reminders – even just lunch- in your calendar, like can’t-miss events, ensures they always have their place in your daily schedule. An alternative strategy might be dedicating one weekend day specifically for meal prepping — starting slowly by preparing one meal you tend to skip, like breakfast first, and going from there.


Bad Habit #6

Ordering Take Out; All The Time

Hydration can become easy to neglect when life gets hectic; however, dehydration can confuse thirst for hunger, leading to overeating (not to mention dizziness, tiredness, confusion, and headaches).

Solution: Get an attractive water bottle (preferably one that keeps drinks cold all day long). Not only is this better for the environment, but having visual cues can encourage sipping regularly. Seltzer water can be just as hydrating (so long as its bubbles don’t bother you); you could add lemon or other fruits for flavor, helping you stay on track with your goals.


Bad Habit #7

Having A Messy Kitchen

Takeout food may be convenient and enjoyable, but depending on it too much can make it challenging to remain healthily balanced. Not only are the portions typically larger at restaurants, but the amount of oil, butter, salt, and added sugar in their meals may also be higher than what would typically be prepared at home.

Solution: Reconcile with your freezer and begin meal prepping to reduce takeout meals. Meal prepping might seem daunting at first glance, but it will free you up from having to cook every night or order pizza. When your freezer is filled with frozen fruit, vegetables, lean meats, and leftovers – or large batches that you can portion out over several days will keep things stress-free on your wellness journey. Additionally, limit takeout to two or three times a week while asking for substitutions as you order. Then, save any leftovers or save them as leftovers for leftovers when meal prepping.


Bad Habit #8

Over Exercising

Of course, it’s hard to admit it, but how often have you opted out of cooking due to a disorganized kitchen? After an exhausting day, it can be challenging enough to gather up the desire for dinner on its own – let alone have another tedious and time-consuming task that needs to be taken care of first! And odds are nobody in your household would instead do it themselves than you!

Unintentional neglect in the kitchen may be leading to unhealthy food choices. Therefore, cleaning it must become part of your routine before cooking again.

Solution: Clean as you cook so that by the time your meal is complete, there will be a few remaining dishes to clear, and the task doesn’t seem so daunting. Plus, this way, it gets done the same night, so you are refreshed and ready to get going again the following day!


Bad Habit #9

Over Exercising

Dieting and exercise alone won’t necessarily lead to health and weight loss; other factors like stress, hormones, and genetics play a part. Food choices often reflect subconscious motivations as much as conscious decisions – one such subconscious aspect might include real hunger requiring fueling up!

Over-exercising can cause your hunger levels to soar and make you reach for large portions of calorie-dense foods to feel satiated; over time, this could contribute to weight gain. Unless training at an elite level, pushing yourself beyond reasonable boundaries when exercising is not advisable.

Solution: Staying active is enough to achieve good health; find something enjoyable that you enjoy doing as exercise. Doing it for pleasure rather than punishment will stop it from becoming an excuse to indulge in food as a reward – like super burritos!


Bad Habit #10

Not Getting Enough Sleep

Skimping on sleep will not only leave you exhausted and foggy the next day, but it can also adversely affect your waistline. A recent study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association discovered people (mainly women) with poorer quality or no sleep consumed more foods with added sugar throughout the day than those who slept well. Sleep deprivation can disrupt hormones responsible for controlling hunger levels, causing you to overindulge later.

Solution: Make sleep a priority by setting an ambitious goal of 7-9 hours each night. Paying close attention to your sleeping environment (cool room without blue light from electronics) and what you eat or drink before bed can significantly impact your sleep quality. Use this pre-bedtime routine to wind down at night and get quality restful sleep effectively.