5 habits that could be making you fat
And then there are some, like eating habits, that fall somewhere in-between. Individually, they may not be too bad, but when combined, they can often lead to weight gain and, consequently, a myriad of health problems.
Researchers in Spain conducted a study that identified a number of eating habits that, while unhealthy on their own, when combined, can lead to significant weight gain.
Angela Malinowski, senior clinical dietitian at Advocate BroMenn Medical Center in Normal, Ill., looks at some of these habits:
- Not planning how much you’re going to eat. “Planning is very important to establish good eating habits,” says Malinowski. “It is important to establish a schedule for the week.” Once it has been decided what the schedule looks like, she adds, then it can be determined what types of meals to prepare. “If there is no planning ahead, that’s when people go to fast food or wait too long to eat and then overconsume meals.”
- Eating in fast food restaurants. Malinowski doesn’t think fast food needs to be banned outright, but one must be selective. “There are still healthy options in these restaurants,” she says. “Planning ahead is very important – look at the nutrition facts for that particular restaurant online before you go, as well as in the restaurant.” This is also true for sit-down restaurants, she adds.
- Eating while watching TV or sitting on the sofa. “This creates mindless eating, which in turn results in people consuming significantly more calories,” Malinowski says. “It’s important for people to set a location in their home that is the only place for eating, and it should include a table and a chair. This will train the brain to know the location where they should be eating.”
- Buying snacks. Snacks are important to prevent overconsumption at meals, Malinowski says, but make wise choices. “Choose snacks that contain a protein, such as low-fat cheese, nuts or nut butters, along with a healthy carbohydrate source, such as whole fruits, whole grain crackers and cereals.”
- Consuming pre-cooked or canned food. “With the hustle and bustle of life, it‘s certain that most will lean on pre-cooked and canned foods occasionally,” Malinowski says. “If this happens, it’s important to look at the labels and choose foods that are low in sodium and are lower in fat, specifically saturated and trans fats.” Many canned foods sell a version that is low sodium, she notes.
Other unhealthy eating behavior noted by the researchers included not choosing low-calorie foods and not removing visible fat from meat or skin from chicken. Overall, they found that numbers 1-3 above had the strongest associations with weight gain, especially when combined.
About the Author
Eric Alvin, health enews contributor, is manager of public affairs and marketing at Advocate BroMenn Medical Center in Normal, Ill. He has more than 20 years of experience in both internal and external health care communications, media relations, and creating online and print marketing content. He has a great love of classic cinema and is a big fan of Turner Classic Movies.