Ideally, food should be a source of bodily fuel and not part of a series of unhealthy eating habits. When you eat for fuel, you make healthy food choices and you eat only enough to satisfy hunger.
People with unhealthy eating habits do not pay attention to the body’s normal biochemical hormones that tell us when we are hungry and when we are full. This is typically a major problem for emotional eaters that use food a coping tool for life’s problems and uncomfortable emotions.
Emotional eating can have devastating effects on one’s self-esteem and of course, food never solves any problems or alleviates feelings, instead eating behind emotions only piles more problems on top of what already exists. Many overeat unhealthy high fat foods while stressed, sad, lonely, or heartbroken. This reactionary habit of reaching for food when problems arise also leads to guilt, shame, and low self-esteem as the eater lacks the coping skills to deal with life in a healthy manner and intuitively knows that food is not a solution.
There are ways you can tell if you are eating healthy or unhealthy because those who as part of unhealthy habits will exhibit these ten signs of unhealthy eating—or at least most of them.
Here are ten unhealthy eating habits that anyone should avoid and are often indicators that one has an unhealthy relationship with food:
1. Eating in front of the television. When you sit down in front of the television to eat, the focus on what and how much you are eating is less than the focus of the television program and you tend to overeat, stuffing yourself rather than eating just to relieve hunger.
2. Eating sugary or salty foods. These, along with foods that are high in fat, tend to be the comfort foods that provide you with a temporary sense of relief but that do not cause a lasting period of comfort. These foods are consumed in huge excess during times of stress, sadness, loneliness, or as a way to cope with any problem or uncomfortable situation that may occur in your life. You tend to go back for more just to feel comfortable again.
3. You eat most of your food later at night. In such cases, food has become a way to cope with daily stressors. You skip breakfast, eat a light lunch and, when the stressors of the day have piled up, you take out your armamentarium of food sources in order to comfort the body and mind, rather than just to fill your stomach. Food eaten at night is eaten when your metabolic state is lower so more of this food goes to fat.
4. You prefer to eat alone. Deep down, you know what you are doing is unhealthy so rather than have food as part of a social experience, food is your guilty pleasure to be taken when you are by yourself and when no one is around to judge you or see what you are doing. When you eat alone, it remains your “dirty little secret.”
5. You use food as a reward. Food becomes part of your everyday reward system. You tell yourself that, when you have finished a project or accomplished some goal that you will have something special to eat as a “reward” for good behavior. The foods you choose as part of your reward system tend not to be healthy fruits and vegetables but instead are junk foods.
6. You associate food with guilt. Food is something to be ashamed of when you are eating unhealthy. After you eat, you feel guilty about what you have done, much the same way as an addict or alcoholic feels after going on a bender.
7. You have no relationship between having a full stomach and the need to stop eating. Because you ignore body signals when you are eating unhealthy, you eat until you are stuffed and physically uncomfortable. You don’t recognize when your body has been properly fed and keep on feeding it anyway.
8. You make unhealthy food choices. People that engage in unhealthy eating habits tend to forget that they need a balance between healthy proteins, complex carbohydrates, and fats. Instead, you eat foods that provide empty calories so you are not only poorly fed but you gain weight eating the wrong kinds of foods. High fat and sugar foods stimulate “feel good” chemicals in the brain, and such food does stimulate pleasure centers in the brain, so it becomes very easy to turn to your favorite donut to feel better after a fight with a friend or co-worker.
9. You see food as a friend. You spend more time thinking about food as a comfort measure and as something to eat when you want company. Rather than turning to friends and family to comfort you when you are stressed, you turn to food, which never seems to let you down.
10. You are overweight or obese. You don’t become obese when you are strictly following bodily signals for hunger and satiety and you unintentionally eat too much. Unhealthy eating habits can cause obesity and the wide variety of complications that go with that kind of weight gain.
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