Family and Consumer Sciences Education: You Can Change Unhealthy Eating Habits

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   By recognizing what causes your unhealthy eating habits, you can learn to break the habit and eat healthier.

   Eating food unconsciously on a regular basis is an unhealthy habit. These habits develop over years and it is difficult to change them. The good news is we can change our eating habits, so we are able to nourish our bodies with nutrient packed foods.

   Mayo Clinic came up with the ABC approach in changing eating habits. It sounds easy, but still requires a lot of work:

A – Antecedent is the cause of why you eat.

B – Behavior has a cause, and an example of this may be that you are worried over health concerns so you may try to quit smoking.

C – Consequences are the result of a bad eating habit. An example of this could be over eating which leads to an unhealthy body.

   Eating out of habit and not hunger is a vicious circle. The good news is you can address your past history or things that come before the unhealthy behavior and prevent unwanted consequences. For example, you may not want to buy candy, this is the antecedent that will cause you to over indulge, which can lead to unwanted extra weight. Therefore, if you do not buy the candy or have it lying around, you will not eat it or end up with a negative consequence.

   Most food cravings last for 20 minutes. If you have a craving for something that isn’t good for you, try calling a friend or reading a book or any activity you enjoy. The distraction will let you forget about the craving.

   As we begin to change our habits, we need to mindfully confront ourselves about the negative impact of our behavior. If you were going to buy a quart of ice cream to eat, think of the unnecessary calories and fat you would be consuming. Perhaps think about how tired and sluggish you may be afterwards instead remind yourself you want to feel good and have energy to enjoy life.

   When changing behavior, do it one step at a time. Instead of giving up all desserts all at once, try to cut down to four days a week or so to start. Try to make goals that are reasonable to be successful; otherwise, you will not be able to build your confidence for a healthy lifestyle change. Remember, lifestyle changes take time. This isn’t anything you can do overnight. Over a period of time, your healthy behavior becomes a new habit. You will have more energy, look healthier and be healthier.

Source: Michigan State University Extension