We often hear that breakfast is the most important meal of the day and that three healthy balanced meals a day is ideal for better digestion and sufficient to obtain the nutrients we require. However, these healthy eating habits are sometimes neglected especially among people with hectic lifestyles. Oftentimes, food that requires less preparation time such as processed food or easy-to-go meals will be their choice of food, and processed food are normally low in nutritional value while high in salt and sugar. In some low-income communities, people may settle for foods that are higher in calories as they often lack access or do not have the means to afford healthier foods. This will lead to higher risk of chronic diseases and poor energy levels. In this post, we will be discussing common and effects of unhealthy eating habits and how they will impact our lives.
How Does Food Affect Our Body?
Our body needs a lot of nutrients to function and keep us well. The easiest way to obtain the nutrients and fuel we need is through food. Eating well with good nutrients will help to increase our energy levels. It will also minimize risk factors of unhealthy eating habits such as getting diseases like type two diabetes, heart diseases and stroke, high cholesterol and high blood pressure. At the same time, it will also affect our mood, sleeping pattern and mental health. Different types of food contain different types of vitamins and minerals therefore it is important to incorporate meals with a variety of nutrients in our daily lives.
What Is Poor Nutrition?
Poor nutrition can also be classified as undernutrition, which is when we are not getting enough nutrition that we require. We require macronutrients and micronutrients to keep our body healthy, such as carbohydrates, fats, proteins, water, vitamins and minerals. These nutrients support our vital body functions including growth, our immune system and our nervous system while preventing diseases. People who are suffering from nutrient deficiencies may not know it until it starts showing up in signs and symptoms.
Common signs of people with poor nutrition include:
- Lack of energy and feeling tired all the time
- Unintentional weight loss or having low body weight
- Excessive weight gain or being obese
- Poor concentration
- Having low mood or depression
- Poor immune system leading to falling sick often and taking longer time to recover
Any person can suffer from undernutrition, but there are certain factors that affect the choice of food that might put one at a higher risk of getting poor nutrition in their diet. Some of the factors that affect the choice of food may include:
Education and knowledge
Level of education can influence our dietary behavior during adulthood. With knowledge on nutritional values of various foods, we can make healthier choices when choosing our meal of the day.
Cost and accessibility
People who are in the low-income groups might have low intakes of fruits and vegetables due to the higher cost of healthier food, resulting in a higher tendency to consume unbalanced diets.
People with time constraints, especially during a busy schedule will seek out convenience and be more inclined towards ready-to-cook products or processed food rather than cooking meals with natural nutrients. These pre-packed meals usually do not contain all the essential nutrients to fit the body’s needs.
The influence of stress on food choice is complex because different people react and respond differently under stress. In general, people tend to eat more or eat less than normal when they are in a stressful situation.
What Are The Common Unhealthy Eating Habits?
Most of us have developed certain habits when it comes to eating. While some habits are good, some might be bad habits without even us noticing. Here are a few unhealthy types of eating habits that we might be practicing every day and some recommendations on how to stop these unhealthy habits and take steps to improve our eating practices:
Over and under eating are both unhealthy eating habits. Over eating will cause our body to consume extra calories that we do not need and this will lead to weight gain and obesity. Being obese increases our risk of many diseases. Listen to your body and learn to eat when you are physically hungry and stop when you are full.
Breakfast gives us an energy boost to start a new day after a full night's rest. Without breakfast, we will feel hungry and tend to overeat later. To overcome this, we can prepare breakfast the night before or something that we can consume on the run.
Night time eating
Eating at night especially snacking is almost never a good idea, especially if you are going on a weight losing journey. Try to brush your teeth after dinner to avoid snacking at night as you will be less inclined to eat again with a newly cleaned mouth.
Emotion and stress
Stress or feeling emotionally down will trigger us to eat even if we are not hungry. In these situations, we should choose some activities that will help us to cope with our emotions and at the same time keep us away from the fridge or kitchen, such as taking a walk, exercising or talking to an empathetic friend.
Unhealthy food choice
Taking too much junk food and processed food when we are having a busy schedule or skipping a meal or two. Planning meals ahead of time can minimize the need for fast foods and ready-to-go meals.
Eating too quickly
This will cause more bloating and gas, and at the same time we might also be eating more than we need as our brain takes time to catch up with our stomach to feel the fullness. Slow down our eating or take a smaller bite each time, and make sure that we chew our food thoroughly as it helps with digestion too.
High sugar liquid intakes
Soda, juices and other sweet beverages have high sugar content. Consuming too much of these sugary drinks will not only cause weight gain, it will also increase our risk of getting diabetes. Replace these drinks with calories-free options such as water and unsweetened tea.
Snacking unhealthy food such as chips, candy, etc all the time, especially when feeling stressed, watching TV, working or throughout the day is a bad habit. If there is a urge to snack, try snacking on healthy snacks such as nuts like almonds, fruit or vegetable bits such as carrot, cucumber, apple, yogurt sticks, etc.
It is not difficult to eat a balanced diet and lead a healthy lifestyle. Generally, a person who eats a selection of food that includes lean protein, fruits, vegetables, complex carbohydrates and adequate water will meet their daily nutritional needs and improve their overall health. However, people with digestive issues or those who are taking certain medications or having certain medical conditions might require additional supplementation to help them get the essential nutrients needed to manage these special conditions. Otherwise, a normal person with no pre- medical condition can easily adopt certain practices to break unhealthy eating habits.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2022, June 3). Improving your eating habits. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved September 8, 2022, from https://www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/losing_weight/eating_habits.html
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2022, September 8). Poor nutrition. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved September 9, 2022, from https://www.cdc.gov/chronicdisease/resources/publications/factsheets/nutrition.html
- Garone, S., Groth, L., Welch, A., Thurrott, S., Kennedy, K., Rapaport, L., &Petrarca, M. (2022, September 9). 9 bad eating habits and how to break them. EverydayHealth.com. Retrieved September 12, 2022, from https://www.everydayhealth.com/diet-and-nutrition-pictures/bad-eating-habits-and-how-to-break-them.aspx