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5 Bad Eating Habits that Cause Weight Gain

5 Bad Eating Habits that Cause Weight Gain
Bad Eating Habits that Cause Weight Gain

Your eating habits can affect your weight more than you think, and even if you are aware of your bad eating habits they can be tough to change. The effort is well worth it because changing your eating habits is one of the easier ways to lose weight since you aren't changing what you eat but how you eat.

Every part of your diet and lifestyle including the times you eat, portions, your sleep schedule, your beverage choices, and other habits can affect your weight and body fat percentage. Below are some bad habits to look out for and details on how they can cause weight gain and make it more difficult for you to achieve your dieting and exercise goals.

Bad Habit that Causes Weight Gain #1 - Poor Drink Choices

If you're trying to lose weight, you should mostly be drinking water and very few if any other beverages that aren't 0 calories. Drinks with calories are particularly dangerous for weight gain because they are so easy to consume large amounts of without thinking. Your body won't notice these calories as much as calories from food. By cutting out calories from beverages including beer, wine, carbonated drinks, and juices, you may be able to reduce your caloric intake by 200 to 300 calories per day or more.

Even coffee and tea are two sources of extra calories for a lot of people. If you aren't counting calories you aren't likely going to realize that the double mocha macchiato you just ordered has 230 calories. Just one 12 ounce sugar drink can add up to 5 to 10% of your daily calorie intake. To avoid these unnecessary calories, order coffee or tea unsweetened and use a natural zero calorie sweetener like 100% Stevia (NOT Truvia).

Bad Eating Habit that Causes Weight Gain #2 - Eating Before Bed

Eating before you sleep is one of the worst bad eating habits that lead to weight gain. Research suggests that eating simple carbs like white bread, cookies, sugar and other high carbohydrate foods within two to three hours of your bedtime can result in excess weight gain - even more than the weight gain that these foods would cause during the daytime. This is due to an effect where the body's organs and muscles are at peak efficiency during particular times of the day, but slow down during periods of sleep.

This isn't to suggest that you should never eat before bed because other studies show that eating can help you stabilize your blood sugar levels throughout the night. If you do eat something three hours before bed, you want to always eat something that is high in protein so that it breaks down at a slower rate than simple or even complex carbohydrates.

Foods that are high in carbs should almost always be avoided before you sleep. They cause spikes in insulin and when you aren't moving around your body will convert many of those calories into fat. You will also have difficulty getting to sleep because of the excess energy.

Bad Eating Habit #3 - Eating Dessert Every Day

Bad dessert choices can be found almost anywhere and it's pretty easy to fall into the temptation. There are also desserts that are marketed as "€œlight"€ or "€œ100 calorie"€ desserts that are still a bad idea to eat on a regular basis. By getting rid of these desserts, you can save 100 to 200 calories or more every day, which adds up to 36,000 to 72,000 calories every year (one pound of fat has anywhere from 2,800 to 3,700 calories).

So the calories from a daily dessert are certain not insignificant, and it's even worse when you eat the prepackaged desserts or other desserts that aren't "€œlight"€. If you do want to have dessert every day without weight gain, try natural fruits or smoothies and sorbets that don't have added sugar. You might have to make them on your own, but you'll know exactly how many calories you're eating and you can control the sugar content and avoid artificial sweeteners.

Bad Eating Habit #4 - Unhealthy Eating When Traveling

Most of us succumb to junk food or unhealthy eating when we travel, but you can limit it to a great extent by having foods like trail mix, nuts, vegetables, jerky, and other healthy snacks in close proximity. Taking just a few minutes to pack healthy snacks can save you from having to resort to fast food or processed junk during your travels.

When you do have to eat at a restaurant, you should do your best to avoid any fast food places and be aware of what you're ordering. Ask questions about the calories in your food and how it's made, and ask for healthier options. When you come back home without any extra weight gain you'll be thankful that you stuck to your healthy eating habits. It's easier said than done when you're on the road, but definitely possible.

Bad Eating Habit #5 - Not Planning Your Grocery Purchases

If you have a busy lifestyle it can be easy to neglect your food choices and meal planning. But, taking a few minutes before you grocery shop to write out a list of healthy foods can help you avoid buying junk foods or unhealthy foods out of impulse.

Write your list out and stick to it when you're shopping each and every time. If you only have healthy foods in your house, you'll pretty much eliminate the chance of slipping up. You don't necessarily have to plan your meals out like you would do on the HCG diet when you're not dieting, but you'll at least have several healthy options available.

Look up a list of healthy foods and snacks and pick out your preferred foods, and try to stick to these foods every time you shop. By planning out your grocery purchase you can avoid impulse food purchases which are not likely to be healthy, and also try to avoid shopping when you're hungry because you're a lot more likely to pick up foods that sound good at the time but end up being unhealthy or even unappetizing later on.

About the author

Dr. Constance Odom, MD

5 min read