Colorful and Sweet Candy

A lot of people tend to follow a diet that they picked up somewhere. However, it is often found that regular diets don’t deliver on the results, because (permanent) weight loss hasn’t been achieved.

If you ask me, you can compare dieting with fixing the tire of your bicycle without removing the piece of glass that flattened your tire in the first place. To clarify: dieting targets symptoms, not the true cause.

So what should you be doing to keep the excess fat and weight far away? Simple. Change your eating habits. This article will be discussing some helpful advice regarding unhealthy eating habits and how to keep them at bay.

 

It’s All About Habits

A lot of people know that certain foods should be avoided. Unhealthy snacks are everywhere, though. It’s tempting and often snacks are consumed without actually realizing it.

This has to do with habits. For example: popping a beer after work with a bowl of chips. Who doesn’t like enjoying life, right?

Right! But consuming all those empty calories, means you will have to exercise more in order to keep the fatty tissues away.

So how does a habit like the one I described come into being?

Think about it this way. We’ve probably all had an experience with a certain food or drink that made us throw up. Even the smell of one such product would then be able to trigger a repulsive reaction. This works both ways.

Say you eat that pack of cookies that make you feel so good. Your body will remember this and it will reward you with a nice feeling.

The next time you even see that same pack of cookies, your brain will send a signal to produce saliva. Your body is literally preparing for its next high, which translate to feelings of hunger. The ability to deny your body this nice feeling will get harder and harder.

And there you have it: a new ‘habit’.

To summarize it bluntly: if you keep feeding a stray cat, it will come back for more.

 

Look For Distraction

The first tip I can give you, is to look for distraction when you’re craving a certain food. It’s important to prepare for moments of craving. Think of something you can do in advance.

Here are some examples:

  • Exercising
  • Reading
  • Creative activities
  • Walking

It’s important that you choose something that you like. Also, try to do an activity that doesn’t involve food and begin your activity on time. If you detect cravings and you wait too long, it will become harder and harder to seek distraction.

Habits may be very tough to break. In that case, it’s best to avoid habits or situations that give you cravings in the first place. Remember though, that avoiding all distractions can have the opposite effect, which is that you’ll think about the thing you can’t have.

 

Track Your Food Intake

This is something that a lot of people find difficult to do. However, it has proven to be an effective method, as it gives you an insight of everything you consume and it allows for the detection of patterns.

  • Why are you eating?
  • When are you eating?
  • What are you eating?

 

Treat Yourself

That’s right! You can’t deny yourself all that yummy goodness without rewarding yourself for doing so. It also allows you to track your results and progression. It’s quite easy, too. Write down your daily goals and check them whenever you succeed.

For example:

“From now on, I will not consume any snacks after 8:00 pm. Whenever I feel cravings, I am going to read a book. I have placed the book near the couch and I’ll start reading at 7:45 pm.”

  • December 15th – Success
  • December 16th – Success

And so on…

Yes, this might sound a bit drastic, but rewarding yourself has been proven to be a very effective method in order to teach yourself a new habit.

So, when and how should you treat yourself?

Well, I’d suggest rewarding yourself every week, unless it’s a really hard habit to shake. In that case, you can reward yourself on a daily basis.

Don’t reward yourself with food!

If you’re looking to undo an eating habit, don’t create a new one in the process.

Examples of rewards include:

  • Buying yourself an item you like
  • Go to the movies
  • Draw yourself a warm bath

And so on…

 

Seek Support

If you are working to undo a habit, make sure that people that are close to you know this. That way, you’ll get emotional support, which can be quite helpful.

For example: it’s so much easier to kick a snacking habit if your partner doesn’t offer them to you.

Just tell your close ones what you’re up to and ask them if they want to take that into account. If you’ve had a rough day and you’re craving a snack, seek help with your close ones. They will help you when you need it.

 

Accept Feelings of Hunger

“Don’t think about a dancing chihuahua!”. There you go. Chances are you’re thinking about it right now.

If you tell yourself to “not think about food”, chances are you will think about food more and more.

So how do you counter this?

Well, you don’t accept that it’s okay to think about certain things. Just let your thoughts flow. Suppressing them could potentially make your cravings worse.

 

In Conclusion

Kicking a habit can be tremendously hard. It’s possible to succeed, though. It might be that you’re not able to do it alone, and that’s absolutely fine.

Nobody says you have to go at it alone, right?

Right! Talk to the people that are close to you. Ask them for their understanding and support. Try to create a new habit by actively preparing for certain cravings. Track your progress. You can do it!

The human mind can be tricky and it’s difficult to alter habits. Keep at it, though! It will get easier.

Have you ever tried kicking an eating habit? Do you actually want to kick a habit right now? And if so, was this article useful to you?

Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

20 thoughts on “How to Quit Unhealthy Eating

  1. Thank you so much for the awesome post!  Breaking bad habits in diets is extremely hard!  My biggest issue is chips, and when I eat chips, I want to drink soda and sit and watch a movie or play a game, thus I end up eating a whole bag of chips in one setting!  I like your suggestion of rewarding oneself.  This is extremely effective, and it is a skill in psychology which would fall under behaviorism.  There are numerous studies that this is an effective way to shape a person’s personality! Sorry for the lesson there, I went have a degree in psychology and I love when I see it in posts like this!

    1. Hi Jessie, 

      Thanks for the kind words! I know that feeling. I used to do the same thing, except with M&M’s. It is indeed human psychology. No worries about your enthusiasm, by the way! I love learning new things. While I don’t have a degree, I do have to agree that a reward system can be, well, very rewarding! 

      Cheers! 

  2. Wow. You really got me with this article. 

    I go to the gym for about 6 years. Next year I would like to participate in a bodybuilder competition and this implies very big changes in my diet. First of all I will have to give up, as you said, on eating habits. Now I eat a lot of rice, meat, potatoes and drink a lot of water because my goal is to increase muscle mass. In the last month before the competition I will have to give up almost completely on carbohydrates and completely change my diet, preferably vegetarian style. All these changes will help me in slimming the fat layer and highlighting the muscles. In the last 3 days before the contest, there is a secret. I have to drink 1,5 / 2  liter water (0,5L / day) for my body to look as we say in this sport:  “dry”. This will be the main factor in highlighting muscle tissue and winning a bodybuilding competition.
    As you said, depending on the goals we have, we must change eating habits in order to achieve our success.

    Thanks a lot for this article. I will share it on my social accounts. All the best ! 

    1. Hi Nagy, 

      Participating in a natural bodybuilding competition is something you should be very proud of. I don’t know if I would be able to do it. It takes true dedication, especially when it comes to nutrition. 

      I’m glad that you liked this article, and thank you so much for sharing! 

      Have a great day! 

  3. Hello. I really want to appreciate your effort in putting together this article.  it was like you were directing it to me. I have a bad habit of eating unhealthy snacks and I do that most time when it’s late.. With conscious effort I try to reduce it but only last for a while. Infact when I tried reading as a distraction, I ended up eating it more while reading. Movies didn’t work either. Playing games helped me a lot but I still want perfection

    1. Hi Benny, 

      Thank you for the kind words. I was indeed trying to direct it to my readers. 

      I can give you another tip that might help: don’t go to the supermarket when you’re hungry! That way, you will be tempted less by all the yummy foods, which enables you to focus only on the necessities.

      Good luck!

  4. Hi Kevin,

    Man is a creature of habit!

    Our eating habit plays a vital role in maintaining good health. In the part of the world where I live there is a famous saying “Food is our medicine and medicine is our food”. Very recently I decided to stop eating junk foods.

    You not only discussed the problem but also provided the solution on how to stay away from these unhealthy eating habits.

    Whenever we achieve success, party, celebrations, etc we go with unlimited food often junk food that are not healthy. The topic, Don’t reward yourself with food is an eye-opener for me.

    You gave us an encyclopedia of knowledge in this article and your article certainly made me think more on the subject.

    1. Hi Paul,

      You’re absolutely right with that saying! I envy that you were able to cut junk foods from your diet entirely. I will admit that I myself have a snack every once and a while. However, it’s not a habit, which is great.

      Temptations are everywhere. In theory, you can eat what you want and stay lean at the same time. You will just need to burn more calories, and that is where a lot of people struggle.

      Therefore, avoiding certain foods is best if you aspire a certain physique.

      Have a great day!

  5. Breaking bad eating habits is a lot of work, reading your article made me remember I employed, “tracking your food intake” when I stopped sugar as a habit.

    I suddenly took to taking lots of sugar in my daily diet, it got so bad that I had to add sugar to every meal. Although I did not increase in weight I started suffering from the pie. 

    Without been told, I knew my excess sugar has to be checked. I started tracking all I eat and ensured I did not add sugar.
    It was not easy but I had to save my self . 

    Thank you for this good work.

  6. Hello Kevin, thank you for sharing this health improving post. Personally, I don’t like junk food. So, I hardly take snacks and drinks. I know most times these junk food are hard to resist especially when I don’t have time to cook something at home before going out. One of the major problem I have is I most times eat late at night and I am beginning to see that I’m developing pot belly. Well, I am trying to see if I can stop that bad eating habit. I’m looking to start doing exercises too as I have seen that it has great benefits for me as a singer.

    1. Hi there,

      It’s a good thing to know that you’re not that susceptible to snacks and ‘junk’ drinks. Having diner right before you head to bed might be considered to be a ‘bad’ habit. However, it’s part of your daily intake, same as your breakfast and lunch.

      I would urge you to go and exercise. It will increase your base metabolic rate, and therefore you will be able to burn off more excess fat.

      Good luck!

  7. Unhealthy eating is definitely one of the reasons it is difficult to lose weight. Emotional eating also has a lot to do with the way we choose to eat. Changing our eating habits is hard to do especially when you grow up in a family that is used to eating delicious but rich foods. I, myself, find it hard to change my eating habits. I think one way to go is to slowly eliminate one healthy food at a time and replacing it with something like a fruit or vegetable.

    1. Hi Geri,

      It can indeed be very difficult to eliminate habits. I’d suggest starting slow instead of going cold turkey, as long as you make sure you track your progress. That way, you’ll know if certain habits start re-appearing. 

      Good luck! 

  8. Hey Kevin,
    I enjoy your post while reading. It is very helpful for me. I am trying to loose my weight but due to unhealthy eating it is stilll not possible for me. Now I understand very well. The human mind can be tricky and it’s difficult to alter habits. Keep at it, though! It will get easier.

    I will talk the people close to me. Hope they will support me too.

    Thank you

    Parveen

  9. Hiya Kevin,

    This was a very timely article for me as I am really keen to give up sugar. I know I need to do it, I know it’s a habit I need to break but I’m finding it tough to get back to it having tried once or twice then given up on giving up! 

    I have a terrible sweet tooth that I indulge shamelessly, I’m surprised I’ve got any teeth left it’s that bad! I cannae have artificial sweeteners because my body cannae handle them so there are no real alternatives to sugar available to me. Do you have any tips for sugar cravings? I could really use some, I like the rewarding myself idea but I hate the taste in my mouth when I consume things without sugar and brushing my teeth isn’t the answer either because most toothpaste contains artificial sweetener! 

    I have bookmarked your article for future reference when I try again, I look forward to the answer to my question, krs PurpleLioness 

    1. Hi there, 

      Giving up on sugar is very difficult, as I’ve experienced first hand. I would recommend not to cut anything out of your diet permanently, because this can make it harder to actually sustain. 

      If you truly want to kick sugar, I’d recommend setting a certain goal for yourself. Start small! It could be anything ranging from ‘no more added sugar in your coffee’ to ‘only cookies during weekends’. Make it realistic enough to accomplish. 

      Accept the fact that you will probably always be eating sugar to a certain extent, and this isn’t a bad thing. It all comes down to moderation. It will not be the easiest thing ever, but I trust you to be strong enough. 

      You have made found that you want to kick sugar, which is a big step and even a small victory. Now you should make the next one.

      I have just published a new article on losing weight. It also features several tips and tricks that may allow you to kick certain habits or to get used to new ones. If you’re interested, you should really give it a read, as I believe you will find it most useful! 

      How to Lose Weight Naturally

      I hope this helps. If you have any further questions, just shoot! 

  10. Thank you! I have realized one of the things that works best for me when it comes to combating unhealthy eating is looking for distractions. I specially like going out for a walk. As you have said, bad habit are very difficult to break but as time goes by and new habits are starting to be acquired, old ones lose strength.

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