1. Skipping Breakfast

When you skip breakfast you throw off the body’s rhythm of fasting and eating.

You can have a headache and going without breakfast is linked to other bad habits that can lead to hypertension, obesity, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. 

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Essential nutrients like calcium, iron, vitamin B, protein and fibre need to be taken in during breakfast because research has shown that if it is not taken in during breakfast it is less likely that you can compensate for it later in the day. Breakfast also breaks the overnight fasting period by replenishing glucose for energy and alertness.

It jumpstarts your metabolism thereby assisting the body to burn more calories throughout the day. By having breakfast, you stimulate your brain.

2. Emotional Eating

Emotional eating is not just a problem for women as the movies portray, but also affects men.

It can be defined as turning to food for comfort for example after a breakup or loss of a loved one. Most common factors that cause emotional eating includes hormonal changes, stress, anxiousness, or anger.

It can be associated with binge eating disorder (BED) where a person compulsively eats a lot of food in a short period of time. To eliminate the bad consequences, you have to first identify the triggers. Keep a diary of what you eat, how much, and when.

You must try and take away the temptations, fight boredom, get some support and snack healthy rather than depriving yourself.

3. Constant Snacking

Constant snacking may be a result of a lack of certain elements in your diet such as protein, fibre or fat.

These give a feeling of fullness and will reduce a hectic appetite. There can also be an underlying medical condition that would need consultation with a doctor. Or you might have the “hunger hormone” ghrelin or Prader-Willi syndrome.

To avoid constant eating a few science-based ways can be followed such as eating more solids, drinking coffee, drinking water in between, eating some ginger and having a piece of dark chocolate as a healthier alternative to normal chocolate.

4. Late Night Snacking

Eating late at night can cause indigestion which then affects sleeping.

It can also raise your cholesterol and triglycerides, increasing your risk of heart disease. If you are still hungry before bedtime, try to eat something that is not hard to digest such as dark chocolate, popcorn, goji berries, pistachios, plain yoghurt, cheese, and crackers. It is advisable to allow three hours after your last meal for the day before you go to sleep. Try to eat enough food during the day so that you do not feel hungry before you go to bed at night. You might feel bored before going to sleep and start snacking unnecessarily.

Avoid that by reading a book or doing affirmations or listening to relaxing music.

5. Starving Yourself

There is a line between eating enough and starvation.

Going without food, even if you hydrate enough, can lead to death at around 45 to 61 days without food. You need to get at least 1,200 calories each day although it differs from male to female. Starving yourself to get rid of kilojoules or because of external pressure is not the answer.

A starvation diet leads to a loss of muscle and dehydration. It also causes death of important cells in the body because of insufficient glucose and other important nutrients.

A study as reported by Mail Online found that 46 % of teenagers, especially girls, tend to starve themselves and consume too little iron, putting them at risk of anaemia and tiredness and lethargy.

6. Gulping Down Your Food

When you eat too fast it feels like you are not full yet and you keep on eating.

By the time that the message gets through you feel uncomfortable because of overeating. Symptoms can include nausea and indigestion. It causes bigger glucose fluctuation that might lead to insulin resistance and eating too fast can cause diarrhea when the meal contains high sugars.

Avoid the possibility of choking by eating too quickly. It can be avoided by allowing more time for your meal and focus on the experience rather than finishing off the meal. Take smaller bites and chew more before you swallow. It will also help that you put down your knife and fork in between bites.

Do not engage in social media to take your attention off your meal. Eat in a calm environment.

7. Eating Unhealthy Foods

The biggest culprit of unhealthy foods is junk food or fast foods.

The combination of fat and sugar has detrimental effects on the mind and body. Eating unhealthily is linked to symptoms such as obesity, mood swings and depression, digestive problems, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, cancer and even death.

Eating carbs can lead to acne breakouts, a skin condition that a lot of teenagers and young adults struggle with. It can be reduced by cutting out hamburgers and chips and replacing it with greens. Avoid eating sugary treats and try to eat a variety of fresh and natural foods.

8. Not Drinking Enough Water

Water is the source of life.

It accounts for 60% of our bodies. We need to stay hydrated to have enough energy, a good memory, and a balanced mood. Signs that you are dehydrated due to a lack of water include a dry mouth, a very dry skin, sleepiness or fatigue, rapid heartbeat, headaches, confusion, muscle cramps, lack of sweat and fainting to name a few.

Drinking about eight glasses of water per day has benefits like clearing toxins through your kidneys, assisting your body to cool down when it is hot and allowing bodily parts to function at an optimized level. You will know if you drink enough water when your urine is clear and not dark yellow. On the other hand, drinking too much water is also bad for you. It can result in water intoxication where the insides of cells are flooded due to low sodium levels in your bloodstream.

This can lead to seizures or a coma. To avoid hyponatremia do not drink more than two litres of water per day.

9. Not Enough Exercise

Not exercising enough can lead to heart disease or other risk factors such as obesity, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol and type 2 diabetes. It can also lead to mental health problems such as dementia and depression as proven through evidence by the British Nutrition Foundation.

So how much exercise is enough?  One can start off with 30 minutes a day which can lead to about 3.6kg of weight loss in an adult male over three months.

If you do not have time every day, you can have moderate aerobic exercise of 150 minutes a week or shorten it to 75 minutes a week if the exercise routine is vigorous.

10. Not Enough Sleep

The body cannot function properly without enough sleep. A lack of sleep can lead to  amongst others, memory issues, mood changes, accidents due to a lack of concentration, weight gain, high blood pressure and a risk of heart disease. Five hours of sleep each night is not enough. On average an adult should get between 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night.

According to research done by the Sleep Foundation the recommended hours of sleep for other age groups are as follows:

Newborn babies (0-3 mnths) 14-17 hours; 

Infants (4-11 mnths) 12-15 hours;

Toddlers (1-2 yrs) and Preschoolers (3-5 yrs) between 10 to 14 hrs;

Primary school children between 9-11 hrs;

High school pupils between 8-10 hrs.

How To Break Bad Habits

To break a bad habit, you first need to identify what is bad or dangerous about the habit; find the why you should stop; and reverse the habit.

You break or reverse a bad habit with a new routine that will have the same or an even better reward than the bad habit. The old habit is being restructured by taking away the bad part and replacing it with something worthwhile. 

Find a new routine – The bad habit is visiting Mac Donald’s and eating fast foods with friends.

The good habit is buying healthy food and take turns to cook meals for friends. You still socialize. Each can play a role in motivating the others. You keep the cues and rewards but replace the routines.

The rewards will increase since you not only satisfy your hunger but also start to look better and become healthier.