How to Break Bad Eating Habits
The fallout: Gulping food may set you up for stomach troubles. “You take in excess air, which can lead to bloating,” says Bonci. You also might not be chewing well. “Saliva begins to break food down, and too little time in the mouth leaves more work for the rest of the digestive tract. This may contribute to indigestion,” says Krieger. Finally, speed-eating doesn’t give the brain time to catch up to the stomach; it needs at least 20 minutes to get the message that your stomach is full. A recent study found that women who ate a meal in 30 minutes ate 10 percent fewer calories compared with those who wolfed one down in barely 10.
The fix: Try to slow down. Avoid finger foods, and instead choose items you have to put on a plate and eat with utensils, such as stir-fries and salads. Pause often, and drink water throughout meals.
If You Skip Breakfast
The fallout: You’ll probably have a lousy morning, as well as a higher chance of overeating later on. “Blood sugar usually drops overnight, so your brain is running on empty until you eat in the morning,” says Krieger. Studies have shown that cognitive skills and memory improve once you’ve fueled your foggy morning brain. Recent research shows that breakfast skippers tend to eat more calories during the day than do people who don’t skip. Eating breakfast may actually help you achieve and maintain weight loss.
The fix: Breakfast doesn’t have to be a drawn-out affair, but try to eat about an hour or two after you get up. “Aim for 250 to 400 calories, and include at least one serving of whole grains, a source of protein, and one serving of fruit,” says Gidus. If you’re habitually short on time, stock the kitchen with easy-to-make breakfast foods, keep packets of oatmeal at the office, or place a standing order at a café so you can make a pickup on your way to work.