Site Map

Eating habits and behaviors

Description

Food gives our bodies the energy we need to function. Food is also a part of traditions and culture. This can mean that eating has an emotional component as well. For many people, changing eating habits is very hard.

You may have had certain eating habits for so long that you do not realize they are unhealthy. Or, your habits have become part of your daily life, so you do not think much about them.

Keep a Journal

A food journal is a good tool to help you learn about your eating habits. Keep a food journal for 1 week.

Remember, small steps lead to more success in making long-term changes. Try not to overwhelm yourself with too many goals. It is a good idea to limit your focus to no more than 2 to 3 goals at one time.

Also, take a look at the healthy habits you have and be proud of yourself about them. Try not to judge your behaviors too harshly. It is easy to focus only on your poor habits. This can make you feel stressed or give you doubts about trying to change.

Taking on new, healthier habits may mean that you:

Now Reflect

Think about what triggers or prompts may be causing some of your eating habits.

Look at your journal and circle any regular or repetitive triggers. Some of these might be:

Start by focusing on one or two triggers that occur most often during your week. Think about what you can do to avoid those triggers, such as:

Replace Your old Habits with New, Healthy Ones

Find healthy choices for snacks and plan ahead:

Control your portion sizes. It is hard to eat only a few chips or other tempting foods when there is a lot in front of you. Take only a small portion and put the rest away. Eat on a plate or in a bowl instead of straight out of a bag.

Eat slowly:

Eating too quickly leads to overeating when the food you have eaten has not yet reached your stomach and told your brain you are full. You will know you are eating too quickly if you feel stuffed about 20 minutes after you stop eating.

Eat only when you are hungry:

Make healthier, nutrient-rich choices:

Plan your meals:

Breakfast sets the tone for the day. A hearty, healthy breakfast will give your body the energy it needs to get you to lunch. If you are not hungry when you wake up, you could try a glass of milk or a small fruit and dairy-based smoothie.

Plan a good lunch that will satisfy you, and a healthy afternoon snack that will keep you from becoming too hungry before dinner time.

Avoid skipping meals. Missing a regular meal or snack often leads to overeating or making unhealthy choices later.

Once you have changed 1 or 2 old unhealthy habits, try changing 1 or 2 more.

Practice Helps

It may take a while before you can turn your unhealthy habits into new, healthy ones. Remember, it took you a while to form your current habits. And it may take just as long to change them. Do not give up.

If you start an old habit again, think about why you went back to it. Try again to replace it with a new habit. One slip does not mean you are a failure. Keep trying!

References

Jensen MD. Obesity. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 26th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 207.

Parks EP, Shaikhkhalil A, Sainath NA, Mitchell JA, Brownell JN, Stallings VA. Feeding healthy infants, children, and adolescents. In: Kliegman RM, St. Geme JW, Blum NJ, Shah SS, Tasker RC, Wilson KM, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 21st ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 56.

Thompson M, Noel MB. Nutrition and family medicine. In: Rakel RE, Rakel DP, eds. Textbook of Family Medicine. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 37.

BACK TO TOP

Review Date: 6/8/2021  

Reviewed By: Meagan Bridges, RD, University of Virginia Health System, Charlottesville, VA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

ADAM Quality Logo

A.D.A.M., Inc. is accredited by URAC, for Health Content Provider (www.urac.org). URAC's accreditation program is an independent audit to verify that A.D.A.M. follows rigorous standards of quality and accountability. A.D.A.M. is among the first to achieve this important distinction for online health information and services. Learn more about A.D.A.M.'s editorial policy, editorial process and privacy policy. A.D.A.M. is also a founding member of Hi-Ethics. This site complies with the HONcode standard for trustworthy health information: verify here.

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- 2021 A.D.A.M., a business unit of Ebix, Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.

A.D.A.M. content is best viewed in IE9 or above, Firefox and Google Chrome browser.