Nutritional habits to change

In this lesson we will cover some of the most common nutritional habits that can sabotage your health, weight and energy levels. As you read through those habits, observe how many of those you have incorporated. We are not trying to make ourselves feel bad, but simply to shed some light on things that might be in our way to a better live. By becoming more aware of our habits, we will gain more power to change them.

Overeating

Overeating is among the most common and dangerous dietary habits. It is natural, on festive occasions such as holidays or parties, to eat more than usual. But many of us have turned up the level of our satisfaction state so that we need to eat a large amount of food to feel satisfied all the time. Emotional and psychological factors in our early years can contribute to overeating. It is often influenced by our parents and family members, as well as by our own insecurities and self-image.

Overeating can lead to weight gain and obesity, which is a factor in many other diseases. Having our digestive system work constantly can make it weaker. Congestion and stagnation occurs more easily with overeating.

The first thing to do is to try and see where this issue is coming from. If it is a nutritional deficiency, where the body is craving more nutrients, the diet will need to be corrected. If overeating is occurring only recently, then stress may be the source. However, most often overeating is a long-term and deep-seated problem. This problem needs to be addressed on both psycho-emotional and nutritional levels.

Eating smaller meals more often rather than 1 or 2 large meals can help. Balancing flavors as well as the types of food will also help satisfy us and may lessen the desire to eat more.

Undereating

There is a growing concern over problems associated with undereating, such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia.

Undereating usually has a strong stress or psychological component. This can range from being too nervous or concerned about an upcoming event or relationship to part of a full-blown psychosis. All forms of undereating – skipping meals or eating only limited foods – will lead to poor nutrition and eventually to problems from protein, calorie, vitamin, or mineral deficiencies that occur over time. Other symptoms include lack of energy, weakness, malnourishment of internal organs, skin problems, hair loss and lack of sexual desire. Severe weight loss despite regular eating may indicate an underlying medical condition and warrants an evaluation by a doctor.

Oftentimes undereating comes with a distorted self-image. This is especially concerning for young women and teenagers.

Since all these problems have a strong psychological bases, they usually require counseling as well as general support from loved ones.

On the other hand, systematic undereating, such as fasting, has been studied and is being practiced by more people as a way to improve aging and longevity. A lower-calorie diet, especially with good quality and nutrient-rich foods, along with supplements to prevent deficiencies, can be health promoting and beneficial.

In any case, finding a balance is the key to health and longevity.

Eating late

This is especially common among people with busy schedules. Food often acts as a sedative and helps us to physically relax. Eating a heavy meal during the day can make us sleepy and tired, leaving less energy for physical or mental activity. This is why many people eat little during the day and compensate with a big meal later in the evening.

However, going to bed with a full stomach is not necessarily helpful to our digestion or the quality of our sleep. It can make us tired and sluggish in the morning and is a habit that robs our vitality. Eating late may also contribute to weight gain.

Best is to try and eat earlier in the evening and not too heavy. Engage in some activity, both mental and physical after dinner. A general rule of thumb is to eat little in the 2 to 3 hours before bedtime. This will help improve our sleep and to wake up more energized in the morning. Remember to air your bedroom and to breath in some fresh air.

Rigid diet

Developing rigid eating patterns and consuming only a limited selection of foods shows inflexibility. This is often based on a preference for certain tastes or just a discriminating personality. This is often noticed in teenagers and elderly people. This is often based on fear, rebellion, lack of adventure, or just being stuck in an attitude of rigid physical environment that will not allow them to be open to other ideas.

Some people develop positive restrictions in their diet. We all have certain foods we do not like because of their flavor or past experience with them. Specific allergenic or reactive foods are clearly best avoided. Restricting such foods as meats, milk, wheat, and sugar-or chemical-containing foods may be based on certain philosophical or health choices. But being too rigid in the diet is usually not in our best interest. It is difficult to get people to change when they do not wish to, especially regarding what they eat.

Ideally, choosing to eat a variety of wholesome foods is the most balanced approach. Eating food in moderation while introducing new ones daily is a healthful path to follow.

Emotional eating

Some people eat when upset or depressed other cannot eat at all in this condition. Our emotions strongly influence our eating behavior, so if we want to maintain a more balanced diet, and thus have a more balanced life, we need to learn to deal with our emotional states in ways other than with foods’ moods.

Using hunger as a guide, integrated with a regular eating plan, we create a basic diet. If we want to lose weight, we may need to plan meals that include less calories; if we want to gain weight, we include more food and calories. A good advice is to learn to deal with our emotions through self-developmental techniques. Such include meditation, visualization, journaling or counseling. Learning to not use food to cover up these important feelings, thoughts, and issues is crucial to maintaining optimal health.

Liquids and eating

Many of us drink with our meals. This is not ideal for our digestive system. Liquids dilute our digestive juices, making it more difficult to break down food. Drinking water before or after meals is much better. A small amount (less than a glass) of water with meals may help dissolve the food and stimulate digestive juices.

What we drink is also important. Good quality water is the best beverage. Cold beverages can shock the stomach and prevent optimal digestion, so best is to drink water at room temperature. If you choose to do so, adding a small glass of wine can actually stimate the appetite. Coffee or tea are enjoyed by many after a meal and this is not too detrimental of a practice. If you want to support your digestion think of adding peppermint tea or warm lemon water.

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