‘When it comes to food and our diet we are all creatures of habit. Shopping in the same supermarkets and following the same recipes doesn’t always have a positive outcome on our health. Breaking the cycle of bad eating habits isn’t easy but is imperative if you want to improve cognitive function and body health,' says Brain Food psychologist Elaine Slater.
Here are five tips for breaking bad eating habits:
1. Take smalls steps over a long period of time. Experts agree that you’re much more likely to be successful if you change each habit one at a time. For example, start by incorporating more vegetables into your diet, aim to eat a certain amount each week and once it becomes routine move onto altering the next eating or lifestyle habit.
2. Only keep healthy snacks within reach. If you’re prone to snacking during the working day then make sure that your desk draws aren’t full of crisps, biscuits or sweets. Instead make sure they are stocked with unsalted nuts, fruit or vegetable crudité and humus.
3. Your body can have abnormal reactions to artificial chemicals in foods. Steer clear of pre-packed foods that are packed with colourings and flavourings. Even some canned vegetables can contain them so if in doubt, always check the labels.
4. Give up on having seconds or reduce your portion sizes. This doesn’t have to be done in one go, as you can reduce portion size over time. Set yourself a deadline and aim to reduce portion size by 20% over the course of two weeks.
5. Get into the habit of telling yourself that the kitchen is closed after dinner. You should also brush your teeth straight after eating instead of just before you go to bed, as you’re less likely to want to eat with a newly cleaned mouth. If a hunger craving does strike, wait 10 minutes, as this is how long it takes your brain to receive messages from your stomach that you’re full.