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How to break eating habits at work

How to break bad eating habits? 10 tips

It’s easy to get into bad habits of all kinds and bad eating habit is just one of them. Whether it’s gorging on late night feasts, phoning out, when you should be cooking in, or smothering your food with extra salt, these habits can be hard to break. If your waistline keeps on expanding, and you don’t know why, then the chances are that you’ve developed a few bad eating habits, so here’s ten ways to help you break them:

1. How to break bad eating habits? Make a list of the habits

You can’t solve a problem until you admit that you have one! You already know what these bad eating habits are, but writing them down will help you admit to them and, it will give you a list to start working on.

2. Take it one step at a time

It’s unlikely that you will break every single bad habit at the same time, so try taking them, just one at a time. It’s not easy to break any kind of habit, so take it easy. Introduce new healthy eating habits, like reducing portion sizes and increasing the amount of fresh food that you eat. Replace the bad with the good.

3. Become more mindful of what you eat

Another tip on how to break bad eating habits is to start to think more about what you are eating and why you are eating it. Are you really hungry, is there a healthier alternative and take the time to read a few labels, so you can see exactly what you are eating.

4. Keep a food journal

Next great tip on how to break bad eating habits is to keep a journal, every day, of what you eat and when you eat it. This will help you keep track of your progress, make you more mindful of your eating and, it might even identify a few habits that you haven’t yet admitted to!

5. Set small, achievable goals

Adding is easier than subtracting, so try and set yourself small, positive goals. For example, never eating French fries again is a big thing, but trying one new vegetable with every meal is not. One extra portion of vegetables will leave less room on your plate for the fries and it will help fill you up, so, ultimately, you will eat less fries.

6. Don’t eat when distracted

Habits can become unconscious, so if you are not concentrating on what you are eating, you will eat more. Make mealtimes an event in themselves and sit at a table, with the TV switched off, laptop shut down and the book closed. Eat the food slowly and savour the flavours and the textures and then you will be more aware of what you are doing.

7. Don’t skip meals

Stick to a regular schedule of eating regular meals. Skipping meals is sure fire way to making you eat more of what you shouldn’t, later in on the day. If you have eaten properly during the day, then you will be less likely to overindulge on treats later.

8. Clean out your cupboards

If there are cookies in the cupboard, then they will be calling out to be eaten! So our next tip on how to break bad eating habits is: anything that you habitually eat, throw it away! You might miss it at first, but, if it’s sitting in the cupboard, the temptation will probably be too great.

9. Plan your meals in advance

When you’ve thrown out all the food that you know you shouldn’t be eating you’ll have the space to stock up some healthy food. Plan your meals in advance and buy in the ingredients that you will need. That way your healthy food will be there waiting for you, just when you need it.

10. Find healthier replacements

Finding a less harmful replacement for a habit can be much easier than quitting cold turkey. Smokers, for example, will often take to chewing gum or electronic vapor cigarette, as an alternative to smoking. If you need something sweet to eat in the evening, try fruit, instead of candy or, eat a muesli bar in the afternoon, not chocolate!

How to break bad eating habits? What are your tips?

How to Break Eating Habits at Work

Since bad habits are made to be broken, here are a few very helpful tips on how to break bad eating habits at work. There are quite a few tricks you can learn that will help you eat better and healthier every day. According to a study released by Career Builder, in 2012, over 40 percent of American employees gained weight. Most of those employees didn’t gain weight due to a lack of food; they reported gaining weight due to inactivity, stress or workplace celebrations. Here are a few very helpful tips on how to break bad eating habits at work:

1 Understand Social Behavior Spread

One of the first things you should do if you want to learn how to break bad eating habits, especially when you’re at work, is to understand social behavior spread. Behaviors, both physical and mental, are socially contagious, which means that they spread from one person to the next. People have an innate tendency to imitate others, so while you’re at work, try not to mimic the bad food habits of your co-workers.

2 Don’t Take Bad Eating Habits Home from Work

This tendency to imitate doesn’t stay in the workplace. Try not to take those bad eating habits home from work and don’t let them affect your entire diet. People can easily be influenced to eat poorly, so try to not to let yourself be influenced by all those commercials or even other people’s opinions.

3 Have a Best Friend with the Same Goal

If you want to eat healthy while at work, a thing that might help you achieve this goal is having a best friend with the same objective. A lot of studies have shown that apparently, close friends who adopt healthy habits together are more likely to maintain them than those who don’t have support.

4 Aim for a Healthy Work Culture

A lot of studies have shown that a company’s culture can have a lot of influence on your eating habits, so try to aim for a healthy work culture. If the company you work for offers wellness benefits, take advantage of them to support your diet. Also, your participation can encourage your co-workers to join.

5 Practice Mindful Eating

In order to get rid of those bad eating habits at work, try to practice mindful eating. For example, if you are offered a donut, before accepting it, try to ask yourself if you really need it, if you are hungry or if you really want to eat it. If it’s too tempting, try to fight this urge and use other techniques like distraction or relaxation as tools to control eating.

6 Establish New Eating Habits

If you want to break those bad eating habits that you acquired from work, try to establish some new healthier ones. For example, instead of eating a donut at work, you could agree to eat only half of it. This way, you will eat less and also, you will start a new habit of self-control.

7 Eliminate Cues You Associate with Appetite

One of the most important things you should do if you want to break bad eating habits at work is to eliminate cues you associate with appetite. Most cravings are situational so they don’t always follow you everywhere you go. Just hunt for the cues that spark your unwanted eating and establish some new and healthier eating habits.

There are plenty of ways to learn mindful eating while at work but one of the most important ways to eat healthier is to build new behaviors with food. Do you know any other tips on how to break bad eating habits at work? Please share your thoughts with us in the comments section!

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How to Break Eating Habits at Work

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

wikiHow

At work, shifts in diet are not always due to a lack of food knowledge but instead a change in lifestyle. Hereâ??s some help from wikiHow on how to break bad eating habits at work.

1. Understand how social behaviour spreads

Behaviours, both physical and mental, spread from one person to the next. This is especially true in the workplace, where your job can affect your diet. This spread of behaviours may prompt you to mimic the food habits and emotions of other employees, causing unintentional weight gain or emotional eating.

2. Mind the eating habits taken home from work

Nutrition habits can also spread past the workplace. Even on a worldwide scale, people can be influenced to eat poorly, as is the case today.

3. Have a best friend with the same goal

At work, a best friend can influence your diet. Close friends who adopt healthy habits together, for example, are more likely to maintain them than those who donâ??t have support. So if you plan to eat well, ask a work friend to join you.

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4. Aim for a healthy work culture

A companyâ??s culture is also highly influential. For example, managers who support health programmes can improve the stress level and exercise and eating habits within their companies. If your workplace offers wellness benefits, take advantage of them to support your diet. Your participation can also encourage others to join.

5. Practise mindfulness

Try practising mindful eating. Think before you eat to ascertain whether you really need the food and if so, how youâ??ll feel after eating it. There are plenty of ways to learn mindfulness at the office, the point being to practise and build new behaviours with food.

6. Establish new habits

New habits can break the cycle of bad eating. Share whatever you would be eating and take a walk with a friend. This counteracts the guilty please with exercise.

7. Eliminate cues that you associate with appetite

Hunt for the cues that spark your unwanted eating. Eat your food in a different room to the one in which colleagues are eating junk food or eat at different times.

Today, careers that destine you for an early grave tend to pay more, so it is essential to make health your number one job. After all, jobs are replaceable â?? your body is not.

Article provided by wikiHow, a wiki building the world’s largest, highest quality how-to manual. Please edit this article and find author credits at the original wikiHow article on How to break bad eating habits at work. Content on wikiHow can be shared under a Creative Commons License.

While All4Women endeavours to ensure health articles are based on scientific research, health articles should not be considered as a replacement for professional medical advice. Should you have concerns related to this content, it is advised that you discuss them with your personal healthcare provider.

Busy schedules, unpredictable workday plans and stress that is a common companion of many hard-working professionals affect our diet. The result is, we stick to unhealthy eating habits: skipping breakfast, preferring sugary snacks, and sometimes – let’s admit it – forgetting to eat. This inevitably adds to stress, fatigue, and energy deprivation.

Choosing wisely what and how we eat is indispensable for maintaining physical and mental health. Physical comfort and high energy levels not only allow us to achieve more – they also help stay calm and resist stress. Healthy eating directly influences our work and everyday life – therefore it’s something worth close attention. So, how to develop healthy eating habits?

Never skip breakfast

Being one of the unhealthiest eating habits, it’s also one of the hardest to quit. Not having time for breakfast is typical for “night owls” who are struggling with getting up early and would prefer another 30 minutes of sleep over a healthy meal. And no, coffee is not a real breakfast!

However, breakfast is essential for staying energized throughout the day. Make sure your breakfast meals align with your diet (if any), choose nutritious and well-balanced foods, and avoid processed meals. For example, cereals, fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds are traditional breakfast meals – and a perfect choice for a healthy start of the day.

Drink more water

Staying hydrated is good for physical health and mental comfort, but maintaining necessary hydration levels is always challenging in a busy rhythm. Keep a water bottle at your desk, and set up reminders to refill it.

Eight glasses of water a day are the common recommendation, but this amount can vary depending on your physical activity, environmental conditions, etc. It is recommended to drink room temperature water in regular intervals, but not immediately before or after the meal.

Bring healthy snacks

To relieve stress, we often indulge ourselves in high-carb snacks: chocolate bars, potato chips, cookies etc. They are easier to get in a typical office environment as they are sold in vending machines, but their effects on health and wellbeing can be detrimental. That’s why, it’s important to be mindful about what you’re choosing as a snack.

Remove the temptations from your workplace, and replace them with fruits, almonds, protein bars, or any other healthy snacks of your choice. Another option is bringing vegetables for salad, if your workplace environment allows an additional pause for preparing and eating it.

Don’t miss your lunch time

Many of us work through lunch time, eating at the desk or skipping lunch at all – occasionally or regularly. High workloads, plans to leave earlier, and attempts to squeeze more in the workday are the most common culprits. Needless to say, it negatively affects the digestive system and adds to work-related stress.

Step away from your desk for your lunch break. First, it will prevent you from eating inconsistently; second, you’ll be able to use lunch time for switching off from work, relaxing, and recharging. Don’t use your lunch time for discussing work-related issues. Instead, enjoy your meal, use your free time to chat with your coworkers, read a book, or meditate.

Eat at regular intervals

Our daily schedule is usually centered around work tasks to the extent where we suffer from long pauses without eating. The results don’t limit to the harm for digestive system health and dehydration. 4-5-hour intervals between meals also prevent us from properly focusing on work.

To stay energized, eat frequently throughout the day. Don’t fall into overeat-to-starve cycles. If necessary, readjust your schedule to free up intervals for your meals, and avoid centering your daily routine solely around work tasks.

Summary

Busy work life and stress inevitably affect our eating habits. The results can range from mild discomfort to severe health issues, increased fatigue, and effects on mental health. Staying mindful about what, when, and how we eat helps maintain healthy lifestyle, prevent negative effects, and enjoy high energy levels.

How to Break Eating Habits at Work

Eight ways to encourage healthier eating habits among employees and help fuel productive working days

In the workplace, effective nutrition-focused wellness initiatives have been shown to create savings on healthcare costs, improve productivity, and even increase work morale. Food fuels the body and brain, so what employees eat can make or break whether they have a highly productive, efficient day or a slow, listless one.

However when it comes to dietary changes, workers don’t want to be preached to by their employer. Instead, to implement healthy eating habits in the workplace, the key is to provide health hacks and smarter eating strategies that empower employees to enjoy a healthy lifestyle. Here’s how:

1. Educate and inspire with nutrition-focused lunch-and-learns

Nutrition-focused workplace wellness initiatives are key to educating and inspiring employees to make healthier dietary choices that can enhance energy, cognitive performance and even mood.

Lunch-and-learns are a time-efficient way to empower busy employees to make positive dietary changes. Topics can range from which foods boost brainpower and mood, to how to eat for a high-energy workday and even dietary advice to support immunity all year round. On a more practical level, recipe workshops can encourage employees to put knowledge into practice, by inspiring them to create healthy lunches and snacks to boost their work performance.

2. Consider express nutrition clinic days

Employees included in the 2016 Financial Times Health at Work survey identified access to a nutritionist as having the highest potential health improvement rate. A 30-minute express nutrition consultation held in the office can be an efficient way for an employee to obtain personalised dietary advice and overcome their barriers to change.

3. Lead by example and listen to your employees’ needs

Implementing nutrition-focused wellness programmes into an office can fall on deaf ears if it’s not tailored to the employees’ needs. Each company is unique, therefore nutrition initiatives should be bespoke and flexible to suit the workforce.

A key aspect of a good nutrition intervention is to involve employees in the planning and execution. Providing a pre-programme questionnaire and appointing wellbeing champions to part deliver training can be an efficient way of encouraging dietary change. Engaging employees with competitions such as developing recipes for healthy heart month can be a fast track way of building momentum.

What’s more, if senior members are seen to take the time to engage in nutrition-focused wellness interventions such as attending lunch-and-learns, it can set the precedent for the rest of the staff.

4. Encourage lunch breaks

A recent survey by Reed found that 68% of people don’t take their full lunch break and two in three don’t eat lunch at all.

While it may seem like employees could be more efficient by forgoing their lunch breaks to spend more time working, this isn’t necessarily true. A 2018 survey showed that 90% of employees who took a proper lunch break felt more refreshed and ready to get back to work. What’s more, getting active during lunchtime has also been shown to improve concentration, mood and productivity at work.

Encouraging employees to take lunch breaks and even organising lunchtime group walks can help increase productivity.

6. Nutritional nudging and healthy snacking

Cake tray culture is rife within many workplaces. Recent research found that cakes/sweet treats were regularly displayed in the main working area for 70% of employees. Close to 60% of employees said they found it hard to refuse office cake if everyone else is eating it, and almost all (95%) thought that sweet treats should only be on display once a week or less.

While there is nothing wrong with enjoying an afternoon sweet treat, an abundance of energy dense sweet foods can increase the risk of weight gain and associated health conditions. This, in turn, may increase absenteeism and reduce productivity.

When it comes to office snacking, ‘out of sight, out of mind’ really is key. Remove barriers to change and get to the root cause of the issue by providing healthier office snacks for longer-lasting energy and optimal brain function.

Snacks that balance blood sugar and provide an element of protein and fibre are a top choice for productivity. Try fresh fruit, nut butters, natural yoghurt, hummus with crudités, oatcakes with healthy toppings such as cottage cheese and tomato. For a sweeter alternative, opt for dark chocolate, energy balls or low sugar wholemeal banana loaf.

7. Sit-stand workstations and walking meetings

If employees feel sluggish and tired, it could be down to their sedentary lifestyles, including sitting at a desk all day. Office workers spend 70-85% of their time sitting at work meaning that they are currently one of the most sedentary populations, according to academic studies. Even when adults meet the physical activity guidelines, sitting for prolonged and unbroken periods of time has been associated with an increased risk of heart disease, diabetes and even weight gain.

Research published in the British Medical Journal found that sit-stand workstations could improve markers of health and even boost work performance. These height adjustable stations were implemented in the trial involving 146 NHS staff. Over a 12-month period, results showed an improvement in job performance, work engagement, occupational fatigue, presenteeism, daily anxiety and quality of life.

Walking meetings are another way of encouraging activity, with the exercise and fresh air helping to also increase creativity and concentration.

8. Provide water stations with a twist

It’s a no-brainer that dehydration can cause a drop in workplace productivity. Dehydration can impair cognitive performance, particularly for tasks which require attention and concentration, and reduce an individual’s complex problem-solving and coordination capabilities.

Many of us forget to drink or simply just don’t like the taste of water. Provide water stations in the main working area or infuse water with berries and mint for a tastier beverage. Herbal and fruit teas all count towards our fluid intake. In the summer months teas can be chilled to make a refreshing flavoursome iced tea.

Implementing educational material and signs within the office can also act as a reminder for employees to drink more water.

Lily Soutter is a London-based nutritionist

How to Break Eating Habits at Work

Eight ways to encourage healthier eating habits among employees and help fuel productive working days

In the workplace, effective nutrition-focused wellness initiatives have been shown to create savings on healthcare costs, improve productivity, and even increase work morale. Food fuels the body and brain, so what employees eat can make or break whether they have a highly productive, efficient day or a slow, listless one.

However when it comes to dietary changes, workers don’t want to be preached to by their employer. Instead, to implement healthy eating habits in the workplace, the key is to provide health hacks and smarter eating strategies that empower employees to enjoy a healthy lifestyle. Here’s how:

1. Educate and inspire with nutrition-focused lunch-and-learns

Nutrition-focused workplace wellness initiatives are key to educating and inspiring employees to make healthier dietary choices that can enhance energy, cognitive performance and even mood.

Lunch-and-learns are a time-efficient way to empower busy employees to make positive dietary changes. Topics can range from which foods boost brainpower and mood, to how to eat for a high-energy workday and even dietary advice to support immunity all year round. On a more practical level, recipe workshops can encourage employees to put knowledge into practice, by inspiring them to create healthy lunches and snacks to boost their work performance.

2. Consider express nutrition clinic days

Employees included in the 2016 Financial Times Health at Work survey identified access to a nutritionist as having the highest potential health improvement rate. A 30-minute express nutrition consultation held in the office can be an efficient way for an employee to obtain personalised dietary advice and overcome their barriers to change.

3. Lead by example and listen to your employees’ needs

Implementing nutrition-focused wellness programmes into an office can fall on deaf ears if it’s not tailored to the employees’ needs. Each company is unique, therefore nutrition initiatives should be bespoke and flexible to suit the workforce.

A key aspect of a good nutrition intervention is to involve employees in the planning and execution. Providing a pre-programme questionnaire and appointing wellbeing champions to part deliver training can be an efficient way of encouraging dietary change. Engaging employees with competitions such as developing recipes for healthy heart month can be a fast track way of building momentum.

What’s more, if senior members are seen to take the time to engage in nutrition-focused wellness interventions such as attending lunch-and-learns, it can set the precedent for the rest of the staff.

4. Encourage lunch breaks

A recent survey by Reed found that 68% of people don’t take their full lunch break and two in three don’t eat lunch at all.

While it may seem like employees could be more efficient by forgoing their lunch breaks to spend more time working, this isn’t necessarily true. A 2018 survey showed that 90% of employees who took a proper lunch break felt more refreshed and ready to get back to work. What’s more, getting active during lunchtime has also been shown to improve concentration, mood and productivity at work.

Encouraging employees to take lunch breaks and even organising lunchtime group walks can help increase productivity.

6. Nutritional nudging and healthy snacking

Cake tray culture is rife within many workplaces. Recent research found that cakes/sweet treats were regularly displayed in the main working area for 70% of employees. Close to 60% of employees said they found it hard to refuse office cake if everyone else is eating it, and almost all (95%) thought that sweet treats should only be on display once a week or less.

While there is nothing wrong with enjoying an afternoon sweet treat, an abundance of energy dense sweet foods can increase the risk of weight gain and associated health conditions. This, in turn, may increase absenteeism and reduce productivity.

When it comes to office snacking, ‘out of sight, out of mind’ really is key. Remove barriers to change and get to the root cause of the issue by providing healthier office snacks for longer-lasting energy and optimal brain function.

Snacks that balance blood sugar and provide an element of protein and fibre are a top choice for productivity. Try fresh fruit, nut butters, natural yoghurt, hummus with crudités, oatcakes with healthy toppings such as cottage cheese and tomato. For a sweeter alternative, opt for dark chocolate, energy balls or low sugar wholemeal banana loaf.

7. Sit-stand workstations and walking meetings

If employees feel sluggish and tired, it could be down to their sedentary lifestyles, including sitting at a desk all day. Office workers spend 70-85% of their time sitting at work meaning that they are currently one of the most sedentary populations, according to academic studies. Even when adults meet the physical activity guidelines, sitting for prolonged and unbroken periods of time has been associated with an increased risk of heart disease, diabetes and even weight gain.

Research published in the British Medical Journal found that sit-stand workstations could improve markers of health and even boost work performance. These height adjustable stations were implemented in the trial involving 146 NHS staff. Over a 12-month period, results showed an improvement in job performance, work engagement, occupational fatigue, presenteeism, daily anxiety and quality of life.

Walking meetings are another way of encouraging activity, with the exercise and fresh air helping to also increase creativity and concentration.

8. Provide water stations with a twist

It’s a no-brainer that dehydration can cause a drop in workplace productivity. Dehydration can impair cognitive performance, particularly for tasks which require attention and concentration, and reduce an individual’s complex problem-solving and coordination capabilities.

Many of us forget to drink or simply just don’t like the taste of water. Provide water stations in the main working area or infuse water with berries and mint for a tastier beverage. Herbal and fruit teas all count towards our fluid intake. In the summer months teas can be chilled to make a refreshing flavoursome iced tea.

Implementing educational material and signs within the office can also act as a reminder for employees to drink more water.

Lily Soutter is a London-based nutritionist

There’s a difference between being a hard worker and a workaholic. Hard workers bring a lot of passion, creativity and dedication to their job when they’re working, but they don’t let it consume their entire life. Workaholics let work take precedence over everything else in their lives such as friends, family and their own personal mental and physical health. You may be a workaholic if you work long hours, cancel social plans to do work, only talk about work when you do go out with friends and family and bring your work home. Stop the workaholic habits now so you can start to enjoy your life more.

The first thing you need to do to break the workaholic cycle is to set boundaries. Set up strict hours that you can only do work such as 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Stay committed to this schedule to avoid overworking. Don’t do any work beyond your set hours. To make this work more efficiently, don’t bring your laptop home; leave it in the office. Lessen your workload by delegating work to other people. You need to finally start saying no when someone asks you to do something instead of always saying yes. You must accept that you can only have so much on your plate. When someone asks you to do something and you realize you already have enough to do, suggest passing on the work to someone else.

Make another boundary by keeping everything work-related in the office. This means no talking about work when you’re out with friends and family. Make an effort to listen to what they have to say and engage in conversations that aren’t related to work like the latest movie that came out or sports. Social times are times to relieve ourselves of the stresses of work, not to rehash them again.

You may find yourself having nothing to say to your friends and family that isn’t work related since you’ve spent most of your time working. You may also find yourself with nothing to do at home after work if you can’t continue working. This is where picking up a hobby comes in. Hobbies are great ways to express and enjoy your time alone. Taking part in your hobby can help relax you, especially if it’s yoga or jogging. You can also jog your creativity with reading a novel. Avoid finding a hobby that is work related. Talk to your friends because they may be involved in an activity you can take part in that will offer you the chance to spend time with others outside of the office.

Take care of your health. Workaholics suffer from sleep deprivation and unhealthy eating habits. Eat healthy foods and exercise. Go to bed early to get a restful sleep .You’ll find that you are feeling more energized and alert. You’ll be more productive during your hours at work, and you’ll probably get more done and be more efficient than before.

Make time for those important people in your life like family and friends. You’ve been neglecting them by working, and if you did hang out with them you weren’t really present because you’d always be thinking about work. Once you’ve lessened your workload to a manageable level and cut down your hours, you’ll have plenty of time to be there for the people that matter the most so you can work on creating strong relationships. In the end, it’s these relationships that matter the most.

SOURCE: Monthly Experiments
IMAGE: Courtesy of Media Junkie

Hanna Guerrero

Hannah is an intern writer here at Spark Hire. She is from the northern suburbs in Chicago and is currently studying journalism at DePaul University. She has always had a passion for writing which is why Journalism has proven to be the perfect career for her. She has written for the DePaulia Online on various topics such as fashion, music, movies and television. She loves living in Chicago because it offers exciting events to write stories on. In her free time she enjoys going to music concerts, watching movies with friends, cooking vegetarian food and walking her adorable Cocker Spaniel Coco.

Are you an emotional eater? Or a late-night snacker? Regardless of how disciplined you might be about your weight loss plans, sometimes bad eating habits sweep in and ruin those plans. Shedding the extra kilos are hard as it is and all these temptations make it even more difficult. But don’t worry, you’re not alone! Many people fall prey to bad eating habits, which is why we have compiled a list of ideas on how you can stop these habits from ruining your weight loss plans.

Mindless eating, nighttime noshing, endless snacking, skipping breakfast, and emotional eating are some of the most common bad eating habits. Not only they add to your weight but make you overeat and elevate your risk of developing health diseases.

To curb the problem, here are 6 ways to break bad eating habits.

Stop eating with distractions

Whether you’re eating in front of your computer or TV, eating while distracted can make you to consume more calories. According to a study, people who ate with distractions consumed more food later the same day. What you should do is turn off the TV and lower the music during dinner.

Avoid emotional eating

Did you know emotions, good and bad, can cause people to eat more than they should? It might seem tempting to eat more food on a bad day, but it can cause people to eat more than they should. Instead of binge-eating snacks, you can take some of the stress out by talking to a friend.

Clean your kitchen

A study published in 2016 found that messy kitchen can influence snacking behaviour. If dirty dishes, newspapers are strewn in your kitchen, then it is time to put that broom to use. It is essential to create an environment that will bolster your healthy eating routine.

Decrease the portion size

Those plates full of pasta look mighty fine, but they might influence your mind to eat more than required. Start eating smaller meals to make it less likely for you to overeat or eat mindlessly.

Prioritise a meal plan

Life is all about different flavours, but it can also be a habit-breaker. Having a proper meal plan will allow you to gain control of your overall food intake, which will contribute to your weight loss efforts.

Get proper sleep

Craving sugar and carbs? You can blame those late nights at the office to drain you out of the energy and make you prone to bad eating habits. Getting adequate sleep is part of changing your environment and getting a good night’s sleep.

How to overcome unhealthy habits that are keeping you from losing weight and getting fit.

Most of us are creatures of habit. We buy the same foods from the same grocery store, prepare the same recipes over and over, and live within our own familiar routines. But if you’re serious about eating healthier and losing weight, you need to shake it up, change those bad eating habits, and start thinking differently about your diet and lifestyle.

The problem is that we get so comfortable in our ways that it’s hard to give up those old habits.

“Many people are skeptical about changing their diets because they have grown accustomed to eating or drinking the same foods, and there is a fear of the unknown or trying something new,” says John Foreyt, PhD, director of the Baylor College of Medicine Behavioral Medicine Research Center.

Even when you want to change, old habits die hard.

“Over time, habits become automatic, learned behaviors, and these are stronger than new habits you are trying to incorporate into your life,” says Foreyt.

Even those who manage to change their bad eating habits can easily fall back on their old ways during times of stress. When you’re feeling weak or vulnerable, automatic responses often override good intentions.

“Everything can be going along just fine until you hit a rough patch and feelings of boredom, loneliness, depression, or . any kind of stress,” says Foreyt.

Foreyt says tackling bad eating and exercise habits requires a three-pronged approach:

  • Being aware of the bad habits you want to fix.
  • Figuring out why these habits exist.
  • Figuring out how you’ll slowly change your bad eating and exercise habits into healthier new ones.

Another expert notes that you’re much more likely to be successful at changing your habits if you take things one step at a time. “Try to gradually incorporate new habits over time, and before you know it, you will be eating more healthfully and losing weight,” says Keri Gans, MS, RD, American Dietetic Association spokesperson and a nutritionist in private practice in New York.

Eating a healthier diet may be intimidating at first. But once you see for yourself how good it makes you feel — and how good healthy food can taste — you have a better chance of succeeding. Over time, your preferences will change and cravings for bad-for-you foods will fade away.

Continued

6 Steps to Fix Bad Eating Habits

Here are 6 steps to help you get rid of your old, unhealthy habits and create healthier ones:

1. Take Baby Steps. Making small changes in your diet and lifestyle can improve your health as well as trim your waistline. Some suggestions from the experts:

  • Start each day with a nutritious breakfast.
  • Get 8 hours of sleep each night, as fatigue can lead to overeating.
  • Eat your meals seated at a table, without distractions.
  • Eat more meals with your partner or family.
  • Teach yourself to eat when you’re really hungry and stop when you’re comfortably full.
  • Reduce your portion sizes by 20%, or give up second helpings.
  • Try lower-fat dairy products.
  • Make sandwiches with whole-grain bread and spread them with mustard instead of mayo.
  • Switch to cafe au lait, using strong coffee and hot skim milk instead of cream.
  • Eat a nutritious meal or snack every few hours.
  • Use nonstick pans and cooking spray instead of oil to reduce the fat in recipes.
  • Try different cooking methods, such as grilling, roasting, baking, or poaching.
  • Drink more water and fewer sugary drinks.
  • Eat smaller portions of calorie-dense foods (like casseroles and pizza) and larger portions of water-rich foods (like broth-based soups, salads, and veggies).
  • Flavor your foods with herbs, vinegars, mustards, or lemon instead of fatty sauces.
  • Limit alcohol to 1-2 drinks per day.

2. Become More Mindful. One of the first steps toward conquering bad eating habits is paying more attention to what you’re eating and drinking. “Read food labels, become familiar with lists of ingredients, and start to take notice of everything you put into your mouth,” says Gans. Once you become more aware of what you’re eating, you’ll start to realize how you need to improve your diet. Some people benefit by keeping food diaries.

3. Make a Plan; Be Specific. How are you going to start eating more fruit, having breakfast every day, or getting to the gym more often? Spell out your options. For example: Plan to take a piece of fruit to work every day for snacks, stock up on cereal and fruit for quick breakfasts, and go to the gym on the way to work three times a week. “To say ‘I am going to work out more,’ won’t help you,” says Gans. “What will help is thinking about when and how you can fit it into your lifestyle.”

Continued

4. Tackle a New Mini-Goal Each Week. These mini-steps will eventually add up to major change. For example, if your goal is to eat more vegetables, tell yourself you’ll try one new veggie each week until you find some you really enjoy. Or look for easy ways to add one more serving of vegetables to your diet each week until you reach your goal. Try topping your lunch sandwich with slices of cucumbers; adding shredded carrots to the muffins you have for breakfast; or topping your dinnertime pizza with sun-dried tomatoes and mushrooms.

5. Be Realistic. Don’t expect too much from yourself too soon. It takes about a month for any new action to become habit. Slow and steady wins the race — along with a dose of vigilance.

6. Practice Stress Management. “Focus on dealing with stress through exercise, relaxation, meditation, or whatever works for you, so you don’t fall back into those bad habits during periods of stress or use food to help you cope with the situation,” advises Foreyt.

Sources

Keri Gans, MS, RD, spokesperson, American Dietetic Association; nutritionist, New York.

John Foreyt, PhD, director, Behavioral Medicine Research Center, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston.

Transform your health with the help of a Results Coach

Posted by: Team Tony

How to Break Eating Habits at Work

Like many of us, you may be wondering – how do I break bad habits? You may have a clear vision of what you want your body to look like, and how you want to feel day-to-day, but there’s something holding you back. Whether it’s overeating or choosing to sit around and watch television instead of getting to the gym, your greatest roadblock on your journey to get fit is oftentimes yourself.

A trained Results Coach can help you when it comes to changing bad habits to good ones. By working with a professional, you’ll learn how to transform your body and your mental state, discover how to actively manage your health and your mind and finally be able to break bad habits and get the positive results you’re after. If you’re looking to drastically change your body or simply in need of some support to reach the next level, a Results Coach can help you get the results you want. Here are three ways that a Results Coach will enable you to break your bad habits.

How to Break Eating Habits at Work

Most of us want to discover how to break bad habits; in fact, less than 3% of Americans live a healthy lifestyle, and an average American diet consists of nearly 50% of processed foods, which severely damage our bodies. This not only makes you feel more sluggish and gain weight in the short term, but this type of lifestyle can negatively affect your health as you age.

You, too, might have adopted poor eating habits, or maybe you appear relatively healthy but still feel terrible on the inside from not taking care of yourself. The fact is, many of us are not maximizing our health. We’ve fallen into what feels easy – not exercising, falling back on bad eating habits, etc. To stop the cycle of bad habits, a Results Coach will tell you that you need to take ownership of what you’re doing today. Are you eating huge meals late at night? Are you skipping workouts to indulge at happy hour with your coworkers? Your health is a direct result of your behavior, so your first step to success is simply recognizing and owning the bad habits you’ve gotten into.

Coaching Tip #2: Reassess your beliefs

Taking control of your health can be challenging, but if you’re able to reclaim your mental and physical state, you’ll feel more vitality than you’ve ever felt in your life. Breaking bad habits on your own can be daunting, but a Results Coach will encourage you every step of the way, providing support and essential strategies to maintain your results. Your coach will ask you to examine your behavior and really think about your health goals. Do you want to stop emotionally eating? Do you want to be more present and involved during your workouts? Are you trying to keep stress and sickness at bay by adopting a healthier lifestyle? Before you can change physically, you need to assess your mental state.

Your physical health is a direct reflection of how you feel internally. What caused you to start choosing potato chips over apples? You’ll examine the culmination of choices you’ve been making, and your coach will ask you to think about the meaning behind these choices. Once you’ve identified the cause of your unhealthy habits, it’s time to work on changing your story – break out of your comfort zone and change your story, because when you change your story, you change your life.

Coaching Tip #3: Make a massive change

Transformation doesn’t happen overnight. By learning how to break bad habits in regards to your health, you’ll not only change your body, but your entire existence. You’ll experience more mental clarity and emotional stability. Major change comes from working alongside a professional coach who knows how to create plans you can follow through on. By creating a personalized step-by-step guide to help you reach your health goals, you’ll create a sustainable way to live a healthier life.

After reconditioning your mindset and helping to change your mental state, you’ll finally get the emotional freedom you deserve. In reaching your health goals alongside a coach, you’ll learn how to stop obsessing over food, stop engaging in negative self-talk and stop listening to all the “I cant’s” you previously told yourself about health. Plus, you’ll develop the physical health your body craves. After working with a Results Coach, you’ll adopt a new physical identity, one that focuses on health, self-love and empowerment. Throw away the disempowering labels you’ve been using to discuss your body and start embracing the new, fit you.

Start working toward your ideal state by reserving a free 30-minute consultation session with a coach today.

Bust your bad habits to lose those extra pounds for good

How to Break Eating Habits at Work

In the never-ending quest to squeeze into last year’s jeans with minimal discomfort (and tears), you’ve probably developed a whole arsenal of healthy weapons, like regularly weighing yourself and eating more baby carrots than you can count. But chances are, you’ve got a couple of habits lurking around that aren’t doing you—or your weight—any favors.

Here’s how to break free from your 10 most common bad eating habits—and make those jeans looser for life.

How to Break Eating Habits at Work

While the health benefits of red wine are for real, it’s not likely the first thing on your mind when you pour yourself a glass at the end of a nutty day. And before you know it, the scale creeps up. “It’s not that a little wine is bad, but a lot of it can add up to extra calories,” says Amy Goodson, MS, RD, board-certified in sports dietetics and the Dallas Cowboys’ sport dietician. Just a 5-ounce serving of red wine contains 125 calories. An easy fix: Buy smaller glasses, suggests Goodson. “The smaller the glass, the less wine you drink.” (And instead of using wine to unwind, try these two-minute stress solutions.)

How to Break Eating Habits at Work

If you think sweetness doesn’t count as long as it’s calorie-free, you may want to reconsider. A recent article published in the journal Trends in Endocrinology & Metabolism links artificially sweetened products with obesity, type 2 diabetes, and metabolic syndrome—the same health issues associated with sugar-laden foods. “The only way to really get off artificial sweeteners is to either use less or learn to like things less sweet,” says Goodson. Try using one less packet each time you flavor your coffee, oatmeal, etc., and gradually substitute honey or agave nectar.

How to Break Eating Habits at Work

If you reach for the salt shaker before you even take a bite, it’s time to slow down. A teaspoon of salt contains 2,300 mg of sodium, the limit healthy adults should take in for an entire day (1,500 mg for those with high blood pressure). Plus, canned foods, fast food, and condiments also typically contain high levels of salt, making it ridiculously easy to exceed the limit. “It’s so important to taste your food before adding extra flavor to it,” says Keri Gans, MS, RD, CDN, New York-based nutritionist and author of The Small Change Diet. “You may be surprised how much little actually needs to be added, if any at all.” Try herbs or lemon juice—or simply retrain your tastebuds by quitting added salt cold turkey, says Gans. (Try these 8 delicious low-salt recipes to get started.)

How to Break Eating Habits at Work

Let’s face it, within the beverage world, water’s not very enticing. But even slight dehydration can make your workout feel harder, not to mention lead to other unenjoyable issues like fatigue, dry skin, and constipation. Getting in eight or more glasses a day is easier if you drink every time you eat and when you work out, says Goodson. “You need about half your body weight in ounces of fluid,” she says. For example, a 140-pound person needs about 70 ounces of fluid plus any amount sweated out during exercise. (Keep your water interesting with these 25 fantastic sassy water recipes.)

How to Break Eating Habits at Work

Trying to configure a healthy meal when you’re hungry and want something now isn’t the best approach. The saying, “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail” is so true, says Gans. “Plan your meals for the week on Sunday. Keeping a well-stocked kitchen is the first step toward developing healthy eating habits.” Gans recommends keeping the following items on hand for quick meals: whole grains, beans, jarred tomato sauce (no added sugar), frozen veggies, eggs, yogurt, high-fiber cereal, fruit, and chicken breasts. (Try this cook once, eat all week recipe solution.)

How to Break Eating Habits at Work

It’s easy to lose track of how much you’ve eaten when you’re not focused on the food in front of you. Instead of snacking while standing in the kitchen or while watching TV, prepare a healthy snack and then sit down, says Goodson. “Choose a protein like Greek yogurt and berries, a few whole wheat crackers with a little peanut butter or a string cheese and a few grapes. Then pick it all up and walk out of the kitchen with ONLY your snack.”

And whatever you do, avoid these 15 worst snacks for weight loss.

How to Break Eating Habits at Work

Starving yourself all day in preparation for a party at night isn’t a good way to save calories and will more than likely backfire. “Skipping meals is a sure way to wind up overeating, no matter how well intended,” says Gans. “So that indulgence you planned now becomes a whole lot more calories than you might have ever thought.” Instead, stick to your regular eating schedule. You can still indulge but will be less likely to overdo it, says Gans.

How to Break Eating Habits at Work

If weight loss is your goal, counteracting every workout with a meal of equal caloric value puts the kibosh on results. “Exercise burns calories and makes you hungry,” says Goodson. “To avoid eating enough to make up for it, combat workout hunger by eating nutrient-rich foods that make you feel full, such as those high in fiber, protein, and healthy fat.” High-fiber grains and vegetables fill you up with few calories. Protein and healthy fat slow down digestion so they get you full faster and keep you full longer. (These 20 perfect workout snacks will keep you nice and full.)

How to Break Eating Habits at Work

Eating healthy during the week doesn’t give you carte blanche for weekend calorie splurges. “Unfortunately, taking the weekends off is total sabotage for all your good efforts during the week, especially if you were hoping to lose weight,” says Gans. Your better bet? “Stay consistent on weekends if you want to continue to see results.” Instead of going hog wild, splurge on one portion-controlled treat, such as a small pastry from a local bakery. Or reward your hard work during the weekday with a massage, a new lipstick, or cute workout clothes.

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Banish Bad Habits

Middle-School flashback: You’re slouched in your chair, biting your nails and yakking to Susan about Katie—that is, until Mrs. Anderson yells, “Girls!” Fast-forward to last night: You’re slouched at your kitchen counter, frowning at your chewed cuticles and yakking on your cell phone to Susan about Katie. Where’s Mrs. Anderson now?

Bad habits afflict us all. But whether your particular fixation is merely annoying, wastes time, or could actually hurt someone (like poor, long-suffering Katie), there are tricks and techniques to nip it in the bud. Of course, serious habitual behaviors might require years—and even some bona fide therapy sessions—to break. But psychiatrists, psychologists, and cognitive therapists agree that recognition is the first step. So you’re already on the road to recovery and a lifetime of good posture, manicures, and trusting friendships.

The Habit: Fidgeting

Why you do it: You have excess energy, perhaps from the surge in adrenaline caused by consuming too much caffeine or sugar, and it has to come out somehow. Just ask that pen you keep clicking.
How to stop: If you’re a large-triple-mocha drinker, cut back. To control energy peaks and troughs, it’s also important to get enough exercise and sleep. And try converting the movement of your hands and legs into isometric exercises: Put your hands in your lap and concentrate on gently pushing your palms together. For your legs, place both feet flat on the floor and then push down. Do these exercises until the need to fidget subsides.

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The Habit: Smacking Gum

Why you do it: It’s another oral fixation that serves as a security blanket when you’re nervous or anxious.
How to stop: The fastest and most effective solution? Switch to hard candy. But if you really don’t want to give up gum, have a friend stop you every time she hears you doing it. Then keep smacking long enough to hear yourself and recognize what an irritating sound it is. You might be embarrassed enough to stop.

The Habit: Running Late

Why you do it: The nice reason? You’re a pleaser and an overdoer, packing too much in. Not so nice? Deep down, you may think your time is more important than the time of those waiting. Either way, you lack some essential time-management skills.
How to stop: When someone asks you to do something, don’t accept right away. Say you’ll get back to him, then decide whether you have the time. Also, figure out which tasks always seem to make you late. Maybe it’s drying your hair in the morning: Time yourself to see how long it takes, then allot enough time in your routine. Tricks: Set your watch five minutes fast and build in time for unexpected delays. And always call ahead if you’re running late. Not only is it gracious but the shame of making repeated calls might also be the incentive you need to be punctual.

The Habit: Procrastination

Why you do it: It’s a strategy for managing the anxiety of having to complete a task.
How to stop: Recognize that when you procrastinate, others may think you don’t care about the job, and that’s worse than completing something less than perfectly. One trick to get you started: Make a check out to an organization you despise and give it to a friend to hold. If you don’t finish the self-assigned task by a certain date, have her mail the check. If you make yourself accountable for the consequences, it will motivate you to wrap up the task.

The Habit: Slouching

Why you do it: You may have slouched when growing up because you were self-conscious or taller than others or developed breasts before your peers, and the posture stuck. Or you might just be tired.
How to top: Take dance lessons, Pilates, or yoga to strengthen the abdominals and upper-back muscles. A simple shoulder-shrug exercise―think of touching your shoulders to your earlobes―is an even easier way to combat slouching. Do 10 rotations forward and 10 rotations back, says Phil Haberstro, executive director of the National Association for Health and Fitness, in Buffalo. “This will raise consciousness of posture and help remind you to stand and sit tall,” he says. “Regular physical activity helps combat the mental and physical fatigue that can contribute to slouching.”

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The Habit: Disorganization

Why you do it: You may be a visual processor. You like to be surrounded by a mess because it’s stimulating―and it reminds you to do your work. But it backfires, since you waste time searching for things.
How to stop: Separate papers into a pile you need to do and a pile you can think about doing. Use folders or boxes in different colors. “One of my clients has 12 clipboards hung up in her office: six for current projects and six for those she may get to later,” says Lynn Cutts, a Colorado-based certified life coach. “She’s still being visually stimulated, but her stuff is organized.” Set up a system that works for you, and start with basic steps, like putting your keys in the same place every day.

The Habit: Name-Dropping

Why you do it: You feel insignificant and want to be perceived as more special than others around you. You think people will be impressed with you if you’re associated with a particular person. In addition to that, name-dropping can serve as a form of intimidation. “It’s a kind of one-upmanship,” says life Cutts.
How to stop: Listen to yourself! Would you want to stick around and hear all this? Remind yourself that you don’t need to resort to mentioning names as a way of increasing your value. If you can’t resist dropping a name or two, do so in a non-self-promoting way or with humor. Do it to share information, as opposed to putting someone down or making yourself look more important. And make sure to tell the full story, even if it’s “Oh, I passed Harrison Ford on the street. He didn’t actually speak to me, but he did glance in my direction.”

The Habit: Nail Biting

Why you do it: You use it to derive comfort and relieve stress. “Nail biting could be the adult version of thumb sucking,” says Alan Strathman, associate professor of social psychology at the University of Missouri, Columbia.
How to stop: First, note when you bite your nails, and then substitute another action. Keep a stress ball on your desk, or even play with Silly Putty the next time your fingers start tickling your teeth. You can also try wearing synthetic nails or painting your natural nails with a polish that has a foul taste. Or get a manicure. You’ll look good, and after paying for the service, you’ll think twice about ruining the results.

The Habit: Whining

Why you do it: You don’t feel confident that you have the power to request something. As a kid, you probably whined when you didn’t get what you wanted, and it paid off―then.
How to stop: As an adult, you’re in for a big surprise if you think you’ll get the same results. If your husband or friends say you’re a whiner, take note. Simply state what you want by making a direct request. For example, instead of ruining an evening out by complaining that you got stuck at a table next to the kitchen, politely ask the waiter to reseat you. Remember: Most people will develop a resistance to whiners. “We rebel against the behavior because we recognize that giving in will only reinforce it,” says Strathman.

When you’re busy it’s easy to develop unhealthy, unconscious eating habits. Here’s how to break the cycle.

June 17, 2016 3:19pm

When you’re busy it’s easy to develop unhealthy, unconscious eating habits. Here’s how to break the cycle.

How many times do you sit down to eat in front of the TV or your laptop and before you know it you’re finished and you haven’t even tasted a bite? Today’s busy schedules mean that for many of us, sitting down to a well-prepared meal at a table and taking the time to savour every mouthful rarely, if ever, happens. Eating mindlessly could be leading to bad habits and weight gain, but there is a solution. Susan Hepburn, author of Hypnodiet (Piatkus), says eating mindfully helps to reprogram your mind.

“Mindfulness is a highly effective psychological tool, gaining ground both in popular culture and mainstream psychology,” she says. “Mindful eating encourages you to always be aware of what you’re eating so you automatically make healthy choices and develop a healthy relationship with food.” Mindfulness has its roots in Buddhism and is being recognised as one of the keys to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Eating mindfully means paying attention to the food you are eating – the taste, textures and sensory attributes. Living at a fast pace means food often becomes a reward, a punishment or merely fuel.

Nutritionist Nicholas Arthur, from Appetite Right, says for many people, mindless eating becomes cyclical. “Being so busy can lead people to miss meals during the day, which makes them too hungry later on, so they overeat,” he says. “Or a hectic day can lead people to be unconscious of what and how much they’re eating.”

For many of us, eating mindfully will require creating new habits. “Mindful eating does eventually become a habit and will change your relationship with food and your body forever,” Hepburn says. There are no “good” or “bad” foods, just some that offer more health benefits than others. In her book, Hepburn says food should be a pleasurable form of sustenance that we eat because we’re hungry, not because we need comfort, love or calming.

The positive effects of mindful eating can spill over into other areas of your life. Research published in the Journal Of The American Dietetic Association found regular yoga practise can help prevent weight gain in middle age. The researchers found yoga practitioners were more likely to be aware of what they were eating and to stop when they were full. Connecting with your body and your natural levels of hunger and satiety will take some time. But you can change your habits, Arthur says. Paying respect and attention to how you nourish yourself is what your body deserves.

Are you a mindless eater?
  • Do you respond to external cues such as the smell of hot chips or an ad for a chocolate bar?
  • Do you continue eating even when full because a food tastes good?
  • Do you eat because of an emotional response? Are you distracted while you eat and focused on something other than your food?

If you’ve answered yes to any of these questions, you’re not eating mindfully. But you can train yourself by following the steps below.

Why It’s So Hard to Change

How to Break Eating Habits at Work

If you know something’s bad for you, why can’t you just stop? About 70% of smokers say they would like to quit. Drug and alcohol abusers struggle to give up addictions that hurt their bodies and tear apart families and friendships. And many of us have unhealthy excess weight that we could lose if only we would eat right and exercise more. So why don’t we do it?

NIH-funded scientists have been searching for answers. They’ve studied what happens in our brains as habits form. They’ve found clues to why bad habits, once established, are so difficult to kick. And they’re developing strategies to help us make the changes we’d like to make.

“Habits play an important role in our health,” says Dr. Nora Volkow, director of NIH’s National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Understanding the biology of how we develop routines that may be harmful to us, and how to break those routines and embrace new ones, could help us change our lifestyles and adopt healthier behaviors.”

Habits can arise through repetition. They are a normal part of life, and are often helpful. “We wake up every morning, shower, comb our hair or brush our teeth without being aware of it,” Volkow says. We can drive along familiar routes on mental auto-pilot without really thinking about the directions. “When behaviors become automatic, it gives us an advantage, because the brain does not have to use conscious thought to perform the activity,” Volkow says. This frees up our brains to focus on different things.

Habits can also develop when good or enjoyable events trigger the brain’s “reward” centers. This can set up potentially harmful routines, such as overeating, smoking, drug or alcohol abuse, gambling and even compulsive use of computers and social media.

“The general machinery by which we build both kinds of habits are the same, whether it’s a habit for overeating or a habit for getting to work without really thinking about the details,” says Dr. Russell Poldrack, a neurobiologist at the University of Texas at Austin. Both types of habits are based on the same types of brain mechanisms.

“But there’s one important difference,” Poldrack says. And this difference makes the pleasure-based habits so much harder to break. Enjoyable behaviors can prompt your brain to release a chemical called dopamine A brain chemical that regulates movement, emotion, motivation and pleasure. . “If you do something over and over, and dopamine is there when you’re doing it, that strengthens the habit even more. When you’re not doing those things, dopamine creates the craving to do it again,” Poldrack says. “This explains why some people crave drugs, even if the drug no longer makes them feel particularly good once they take it.”

In a sense, then, parts of our brains are working against us when we try to overcome bad habits. “These routines can become hardwired in our brains,” Volkow says. And the brain’s reward centers keep us craving the things we’re trying so hard to resist.

The good news is, humans are not simply creatures of habit. We have many more brain regions to help us do what’s best for our health.

“Humans are much better than any other animal at changing and orienting our behavior toward long-term goals, or long-term benefits,” says Dr. Roy Baumeister, a psychologist at Florida State University. His studies on decision-making and willpower have led him to conclude that “self-control is like a muscle. Once you’ve exerted some self-control, like a muscle it gets tired.”

After successfully resisting a temptation, Baumeister’s research shows, willpower can be temporarily drained, which can make it harder to stand firm the next time around. In recent years, though, he’s found evidence that regularly practicing different types of self-control—such as sitting up straight or keeping a food diary—can strengthen your resolve.

“We’ve found that you can improve your self-control by doing exercises over time,” Baumeister says. “Any regular act of self-control will gradually exercise your ‘muscle’ and make you stronger.”

Volkow notes that there’s no single effective way to break bad habits. “It’s not one size fits all,” she says.

One approach is to focus on becoming more aware of your unhealthy habits. Then develop strategies to counteract them. For example, habits can be linked in our minds to certain places and activities. You could develop a plan, say, to avoid walking down the hall where there’s a candy machine. Resolve to avoid going places where you’ve usually smoked. Stay away from friends and situations linked to problem drinking or drug use.

Another helpful technique is to visualize yourself in a tempting situation. “Mentally practice the good behavior over the bad,” Poldrack says. “If you’ll be at a party and want to eat vegetables instead of fattening foods, then mentally visualize yourself doing that. It’s not guaranteed to work, but it certainly can help.”

One way to kick bad habits is to actively replace unhealthy routines with new, healthy ones. Some people find they can replace a bad habit, even drug addiction, with another behavior, like exercising. “It doesn’t work for everyone,” Volkow says. “But certain groups of patients who have a history of serious addictions can engage in certain behaviors that are ritualistic and in a way compulsive—such as marathon running—and it helps them stay away from drugs. These alternative behaviors can counteract the urges to repeat a behavior to take a drug.”

Another thing that makes habits especially hard to break is that replacing a first-learned habit with a new one doesn’t erase the original behavior. Rather, both remain in your brain. But you can take steps to strengthen the new one and suppress the original one. In ongoing research, Poldrack and his colleagues are using brain imaging to study the differences between first-learned and later-learned behaviors. “We’d like to find a way to train people to improve their ability to maintain these behavioral changes,” Poldrack says.

Some NIH-funded research is exploring whether certain medications can help to disrupt hard-wired automatic behaviors in the brain and make it easier to form new memories and behaviors. Other scientific teams are searching for genes that might allow some people to easily form and others to readily suppress habits.

Bad habits may be hard to change, but it can be done. Enlist the help of friends, co-workers and family for some extra support.

How to Break Eating Habits at Work

When it comes to eating, we have strong habits. Some are good (“I always eat breakfast”), and some are not so good (“I always clean my plate”). Although many of our eating habits were established during childhood, it doesn’t mean it’s too late to change them.

Making sudden, radical changes to eating habits such as eating nothing but cabbage soup, can lead to short term weight loss. However, such radical changes are neither healthy nor a good idea, and won’t be successful in the long run. Permanently improving your eating habits requires a thoughtful approach in which you Reflect, Replace, and Reinforce.

  • REFLECTon all of your specific eating habits, both bad and good; and, your common triggers for unhealthy eating.
  • REPLACE your unhealthy eating habits with healthier ones.
  • REINFORCE your new, healthier eating habits.

Reflect:

How to Break Eating Habits at Work

  1. Create a list of your eating habits. Keep a food diary for a few days. Write down everything you eat and the time of day you eat it. This will help you uncover your habits. For example, you might discover that you always seek a sweet snack to get you through the mid-afternoon energy slump. Use this diary pdf icon [PDF-36KB] to help. It’s good to note how you were feeling when you decided to eat, especially if you were eating when not hungry. Were you tired? Stressed out?
  2. Highlight the habits on your list that may be leading you to overeat. Common eating habits that can lead to weight gain are:
    • Eating too fast
    • Always cleaning your plate
    • Eating when not hungry
    • Eating while standing up (may lead to eating mindlessly or too quickly)
    • Always eating dessert
    • Skipping meals (or maybe just breakfast)
  3. Look at the unhealthy eating habits you’ve highlighted. Be sure you’ve identified all the triggers that cause you to engage in those habits. Identify a few you’d like to work on improving first. Don’t forget to pat yourself on the back for the things you’re doing right. Maybe you usually eat fruit for dessert, or you drink low-fat or fat-free milk. These are good habits! Recognizing your successes will help encourage you to make more changes.
  4. Create a list of “cues” by reviewing your food diary to become more aware of when and where you’re “triggered” to eat for reasons other than hunger. Note how you are typically feeling at those times. Often an environmental “cue”, or a particular emotional state, is what encourages eating for non-hunger reasons.
  5. Common triggers for eating when not hungry are:
    • Opening up the cabinet and seeing your favorite snack food.
    • Sitting at home watching television.
    • Before or after a stressful meeting or situation at work.
    • Coming home after work and having no idea what’s for dinner.
    • Having someone offer you a dish they made “just for you!”
    • Walking past a candy dish on the counter.
    • Sitting in the break room beside the vending machine.
    • Seeing a plate of doughnuts at the morning staff meeting.
    • Swinging through your favorite drive-through every morning.
    • Feeling bored or tired and thinking food might offer a pick-me-up.
  6. Circle the “cues” on your list that you face on a daily or weekly basis. While the Thanksgiving holiday may be a trigger to overeat, for now focus on cues you face more often. Eventually you want a plan for as many eating cues as you can.
  7. Ask yourself these questions for each “cue” you’ve circled:
    • Is there anything I can do to avoid the cue or situation? This option works best for cues that don’t involve others. For example, could you choose a different route to work to avoid stopping at a fast food restaurant on the way? Is there another place in the break room where you can sit so you’re not next to the vending machine?
    • For things I can’t avoid, can I do something differently that would be healthier? Obviously, you can’t avoid all situations that trigger your unhealthy eating habits, like staff meetings at work. In these situations, evaluate your options. Could you suggest or bring healthier snacks or beverages? Could you offer to take notes to distract your attention? Could you sit farther away from the food so it won’t be as easy to grab something? Could you plan ahead and eat a healthy snack before the meeting?

Replace:

How to Break Eating Habits at Work

  1. Replace unhealthy habits with new, healthy ones. For example, in reflecting upon your eating habits, you may realize that you eat too fast when you eat alone. So, make a commitment to share a lunch each week with a colleague, or have a neighbor over for dinner one night a week. Another strategy is to put your fork down between bites. Also, minimize distractions, such as watching the news while you eat. Such distractions keep you from paying attention to how quickly and how much you’re eating.
  2. Eat more slowly. If you eat too quickly, you may “clean your plate” instead of paying attention to whether your hunger is satisfied.
  3. Eat only when you’re truly hungry instead of when you are tired, anxious, or feeling an emotion besides hunger. If you find yourself eating when you are experiencing an emotion besides hunger, such as boredom or anxiety, try to find a non-eating activity to do instead. You may find a quick walk or phone call with a friend helps you feel better.
  4. Plan meals ahead of time to ensure that you eat a healthy well-balanced meal.

Reinforce:

Reinforce your new, healthy habits and be patient with yourself. Habits take time to develop. It doesn’t happen overnight. When you do find yourself engaging in an unhealthy habit, stop as quickly as possible and ask yourself: Why do I do this? When did I start doing this? What changes do I need to make? Be careful not to berate yourself or think that one mistake “blows” a whole day’s worth of healthy habits. You can do it! It just takes one day at a time!

I think we can all admit that we have bad eating habits, whether it’s late-night snacking, junk-food binges or emotional eating. Breaking these habits can be a simple way to promote weight loss and a healthy lifestyle, so read on for some helpful tips!

Junk Food : There’s a reason you keep going back to the bag of potato chips or the package of cookies. Studies have found that high-fat and high-sugar foods can be addicting, actually triggering feelings of happiness in us.

The Fix: There’s no reason why you can enjoy your favorite junk food every once in a while. And completely eliminating them from your diet will only make you crave them more. So what’s the secret? MODERATION! Identify what you really want and indulge in it in moderation, a couple of times a week as opposed to every day.

Eating Too Quickly : Thanks to public schools, we’ve been trained to stuff our food down our gullet as quickly as possible, and whether it’s a snack or a full meal, it’s not healthy. Eating too quickly doesn’t give your brain time to catch up with your stomach and trigger the full feeling until you’ve already eaten too much.

The Fix: There are several things you can do to help slow down how quickly you eat your meals. Put your fork or spoon down on the table in between each bite. Take smaller bites, and be sure to chew each bite thoroughly. In addition, drinking water during the meal will help slow you down and fill you up.

Emotional Eating : Many of us use food as a coping mechanism. If we’re stressed at work, upset over a break up or whatever the case may be, we open up the pint of ice cream and eat, and eat, and eat. Both positive and negative emotions can cause people to eat more than they should.

The Fix: Find a new outlet for your emotions. If you’re stressed when you get home from work, take a walk or call an empathetic friend. Find a new way to vent, anything’s an option if it keeps you out of the kitchen!

How to Break Eating Habits at Work

Working from home is becoming an increasingly popular option, with employees from secretaries to CEOs utilizing the advantages of a home office at least part of the time. While there are still some lingering critics who insist that working from home leads to stunted professional relationships and lower productivity, the majority of employers in the United States are becoming more lenient with the alternative work environment.

Regardless of whether you work at home once a month or every day, there are a handful of crucial habits you’ll need to adopt if you want to work effectively. Working from home is a luxury, but you have to work hard and work smart if you want to make the most of it. Integrate these habits into your at-home work life:

1. Establish a designated working area.

It’s called a “home office” for a reason. Working from your bed may not be a great idea because you’ll be tempted to sleep or relax. Working in your living room in front of your TV may not be a great idea because you’ll be tempted to watch it. Instead, create a designated working space; it doesn’t have to be a whole room, but it does have to be a distraction-free setting that isn’t used for any other purpose. Arriving at your designated “home office” will set a tone of diligence and focus on work for the rest of the day.

2. Dress for the job.

The prospect of working in pajamas is appealing to just about everybody, but there is a real psychological benefit to dressing for your job even when you’re at home. You don’t have to wear a full suit and tie every day, but it pays to take the time to get dressed professionally. It will help get your mind into “work mode” and avoid the temptation of staying in sloppy “pajama mode.” Plus, it looks a lot better when it comes time to use Skype or a similar video-chatting platform. Speaking of which …

3. Learn different mediums of communication.

Phone calls, emails, text messages, instant messages, and face chats are all available means of communication for telecommuters. Deep down, you probably have a strong preference for one of those methods–we all have biases. However, in order to function efficiently as a telecommuter, you need to learn several of these mediums and how to use them practically. For example, there are times when a phone call would be a waste but an email would work perfectly. There are also times when instant messages have no advantage over a video chat. Use each medium wisely and be open to different forms of communication for different coworkers.

4. Set hours and stick to them.

Be strict with yourself. Set the start of your day and end of your day at very specific times, and adhere to those times. It’s not just about making sure you work a certain number of hours–it’s about maximizing the time you do have. Starting at 8 a.m. sharp will give you a specific initiation point, rather than a fuzzy period of procrastination and distraction. But ending at say, 5 p.m. sharp, is also beneficial. Working from home can cause your personal life and work life to bleed into each other, so it’s important to draw firm lines between them for your mental health.

5. Specify tasks for each day.

Creating a task list for each day you work from home can help you stay focused and give you a measurable indication of how well you’re performing in a work-from-home environment. It’s a good idea in general to create task lists, but using them for your independent work is especially critical. Organize your tasks by priority, specifying which tasks must be done by the end of the day. Then, at the end of your day, look back at your list and review all the items you were able to complete. This will give you an opportunity to evaluate your performance and set new tasks for subsequent days.

6. Take breaks.

Just as it’s important to wear clothes like you would in an office, it’s vital to take breaks like you would in an office. It’s another advantage to having a designated work area in your home; when it’s time for a break, you can leave and relax in the kitchen or in the living room for a while. Taking a break clears your mind and gives you a refreshed perspective, so instead of allowing your day to bleed in with your personal time, make a clear distinction between “work time” and “break time.”

7. Avoid interactions with family or friends.

This habit is a bit misleading–you shouldn’t ignore your family members if they need you, obviously, but don’t make working from home a group activity. Close yourself off, if necessary, and tell your family and friends to treat you as if you are in a real office. Conversing with friends or family regularly throughout the day can lull you into a casual state of mind and distract you from your focus on work.

8. Don’t sacrifice face-to-face interaction.

That being said, face-to-face interaction is still important. If you’re working from home all day, every day, for an extended period of time, it’s important to meet with your co-workers and clients in person. Get out and go to an office lunch to commune with your teammates, or try going back to the office one day a week, if possible. The physical interaction is important for your psychological health, and just video chatting isn’t enough to fulfill that need. It’s easy to get lost in the digital world, but try not to let yourself.

9. Create mini-routines.

Routines can be annoying or tedious, but they provide an easy structure to your day. Create specific routines in your work-from-home days that help you get into the flow of work. For example, in the morning you could read your emails while eating breakfast and spend 15 minutes outlining a task list for the day. If you do this every morning, it will become easier and easier to fall into that habit and seamlessly transition into your work schedule. The same type of routine can be applied to your breaks and midday habits as well.

10. Reward yourself.

When you do a good job, you deserve a reward. Don’t hesitate to make yourself a fresh pot of coffee after overcoming a major hurdle, or to take a long break after finishing that burdensome task. Rewarding yourself appropriately throughout the day gives you positive feedback for your accomplishments and keeps things from getting stale. Your home environment has many more opportunities for relaxation and enjoyment than your office, so use them to your advantage by pursuing them after you’ve done something worthy of reward.

Keep these habits strong in your work routine, and you’ll enjoy all the benefits of working from home without sacrificing your productivity or your satisfaction. If you’re just getting started working from home, keep in mind that everybody works differently, and it will take some time to find a structure that works best for you. Stay committed to your goals, and eventually you’ll create a near-perfect system.

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    Want to Break a Bad Habit? Science Says Do These 4 Things

    There’s a science to changing bad behaviors, and you can master it.

    How to Break Eating Habits at Work

    It’s 3 p.m., and you’re knee-deep in an afternoon energy slump.

    You head towards the office kitchen to grab a glass of water where you’re encountered by a box of treats that seems to be calling your name. “Just one,” you swear. But that’s the third time you’ve given in to your sweet tooth this week.

    As a smart, ambitious person, you know bad habits keep you from reaching your goals. You know you’re capable of self-control. Yet, despite your best efforts, you’ve been unable to change.

    Whether it’s mid-day snacking, procrastinating, or skipping workouts, feeling powerless in the face of bad habits can really take a toll on your motivation, even your self-esteem.

    What if it’s not a lack of willpower that’s to blame? What if the advice you’ve been given about how to “break” a bad habit is actually misguided?

    If you’ve been trying different methods over and over again but nothing’s working, it’s time for a new approach that leverages the science of behavior change.

    The Psychology of Bad Habits

    You can spend hours researching life hacks. However, if you don’t first understand the psychology driving habits, you’ll never see any real success.

    When you break it down, habits are comprised of three distinct stages:

    In the mid-day munchies example, the cue is fatigue. This triggers a routine: getting up and heading to the kitchen. The reward? Yummy goodness that gives you a temporary energy boost.

    It turns out that the habit loop is incredibly powerful and is something that has been hardwired into our psyches.

    It also helps explains exactly why habits are so hard to shake. The truth is, we actually never break bad habits, rather “bad” behaviors are replaced with more positive alternatives.

    Putting the Habit Loop to Work

    If you’re ready to kick bad habits for good, here’s three steps for leveraging the habit loop to finally change your behavior.

    Step 1: Identify the stages

    First identify the cue, routine, and reward that lead to your habit. Look at the circumstances surrounding the behavior including the time of day, who you’re with, and what emotions you’re feeling.

    For example, recognize how after a tough day at work (cue), you come home and plop down on the couch (routine). Flash forward and you’ve finish an entire series on Netflix (reward). The downside is you’ve also squandered free time meant to be used for working on your side business.

    Step 2: Explore alternatives

    Now that you have a clear breakdown of what’s happening at each stage of your habit loop, brainstorm healthier routines that will produce the results you want.

    What alternative behaviors might provide comparable reward to the one you are trying to eliminate? What else would give you a sense of accomplishment, happiness, relaxation — whatever core need your current “bad habit” is satisfying?

    Create a list of options. Could you swap out your open-ended Netflix binge for brief meditation or a walk with your partner? Focus on new routines that will help you decompress after a stressful day (the cue) and leave you in a positive frame of mind to get freelance work done (reward).

    Step 3: Commit to change and tweak as you go

    Now it’s time to experiment with subbing in new routines to get a sense of what works best for you.

    Make do-able commitments to test drive new routines and approach it as a series of experiments. Maybe you try a post-work meditation for two weeks and find it’s not for you. After more testing, you may find more vigorous exercise is what helps you get in zone.

    Step 4: Anticipate setbacks

    Behavior change is hard. No one is immune from the occasional slip-up, so when this happens, don’t beat yourself up or retreat into negative self-talk.

    Instead, make your habit loop bulletproof: anticipate and plan for setbacks. If you’re trying to stick to a diet, think through situations that might challenge your healthy eating habits such a fancy business dinners, traveling for work, or high-stress times.

    Once you learn how to work within the psychology of habits, rather than against it, chances are you’ll find greater success in beating negative behaviors once and for all.