6 "Good" Eating Habits That Are Keeping Us Fat

by Sarah Winfrey on 28 November 2013 1 comment

We all know how to eat, right? Open mouth, insert food. Chew, swallow, and you're done. Piece of cake.

For most of us, though, eating also involves some spoken or unspoken rules, many of which we learned as children. These rules influence what we eat, how much we eat, how often we eat, and when we allow ourselves to stop eating. They form many of our habits around eating, some of which we may not have ever thought about before.

Some of these habits are good for us and allow us to feed our bodies well and enjoy eating with others. Others, though, could actually be hurting us, damaging our bodies and causing us to gain weight. Are you wondering where your habits fit in? Check out this list of "good" habits that may actually be harmful. (See also: Healthy Habits That Can Hurt You)

1. Eat Faster

As a mother to small children, I know exactly how frustrating it is to sit at the table for an hour with a child who eats roughly one bite every five minutes. And I understand exactly why our parents told us to hurry up, to stop playing with our food, and just eat already.

However, thinking that we need to eat faster, to not dawdle, and to not play (or take time to enjoy) our food means that we end up eating more. It takes our bodies up to 20 minutes to register that we are full. If we are cramming food into our mouths that whole time, we will eat more than that we need, and we will miss enjoying ourselves and our company.

2. Clean Your Plate

Another habit, one often related to eating faster, is the instruction to clean our plates. Again, this is something that many of us learned as children. Our parents wanted us to eat well and not waste food, so they instructed us to clean our plates. (See also: How to Cut Waste When Feeding Kids)

While this is good when it comes to not wasting food, it's bad for our waistlines. It's not uncommon for us to only realize after we have filled a plate that we are not actually hungry enough to empty it, and if we make ourselves eat that food, we will eventually gain weight.

3. Taste Everything

Having a picky eater is a terrible thing, and parents try to combat that by making their kids try everything that's offered. Sometimes, we even learn that we need to take a certain number of bites of every single food on the table.

While this may be successful in expanding our culinary horizons, it can be dangerous. When we apply the "try everything" philosophy at, say, a buffet or a cocktail party, we'll end up consuming way more calories than we need. And if we do this too often, we will definitely gain weight.

4. Don't Snack

When you want kids to eat well at meal time, you have to limit their food consumption at other times. However, when we make this a hard-and-fast rule for our entire lives, we may actually end up eating more than we need.

Think about it. If you know you're going somewhere where most of the foods will be high calorie, you can stave off some of your hunger if you eat a healthy snack ahead of time. Or, if you end up starving at mealtimes, you may eat a lot more calories than you need, simply because of how hungry you are.

Think about this along with the fact that some medical professionals think small meals may be best for weight loss, and smart snacking could help you achieve and maintain a healthy weight. (See also: 6 Cheap and Healthy Snacks)

5. If You Want to Lose Weight, Go on a Diet

In western culture, when you want to lose weight, you go on a diet. There are a myriad of options, from those backed up by quality science to those touted by Hollywood celebrities.

However, a diet is not a good way to lose weight and keep it off. Studies show that the majority of people who lose weight on a diet cannot maintain it. In fact, they tend to regain more weight, over time, than the weight they lose while dieting. Apparently, dieting messes with your brain hormones in such a way that it actually makes it harder to keep the weight off. Clearly, this is another "truth" that isn't true. (See also: How to Lose Weight With Portion Control)

6. Eat Low-Cal/Fat-Free, Et cetera

As part of our "diet to lose weight" mentality, most of us think that eating low calorie, fat free, and otherwise "healthy" food is the best for our bodies and our waistlines. However, many of these foods are actually worse for us than their high-calorie, full-of-fat counterparts. These foods can do things to our bodies that are worse than gaining weight.

In case that isn't bad enough, these foods may make us gain weight, too. When we eat low-fat, for instance, we aren't as satisfied as we are when we eat the full-fat varieties of these foods. Thus, we can end up eating more, in order to achieve this satisfaction, than we would if we just ate the full-fat foods from the start.

If all of this sounds discouraging to you, take heart! Eating healthier and losing weight is totally possible. Sciences shows that making simple changes, like exercising more, eating fewer calories, and cutting out sugars all lead to lower weight and improved health. Remember to start small and allow each change the time to become a habit. Over time, you'll replace what you thought were good habits with ones that will actually improve your well-being.

Do you have any of these habits, or have you already overcome them? Tell us your story below!

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Portion control helps me maintain a healthy weight. When I was training myself to do this I reduce portion sizes so gradually reduced I didn't even notice.

Little bits of 'keeping moving" exercise that isn't working out also seem to be enough to kick my body out of hibernation mode. For example, I'll a brisk walk to the further-away bathroom at work or jogging in place while waiting for the microwave.