We sometimes don’t pay too much attention to the detrimental aspects of our eating, because they’ve already become a habit. The very nature of a habit means you’re familiar with it, so you’re probably not paying too much attention to the details. However, just because you’re used to doing it doesn’t mean it’s not harming you.

Below are five of the most destructive eating habits. Some are more obvious than others, but it’s still easy to lapse back into them. Education is important in this area, as it’s the little daily habits that add up and lead to illness, obesity and other unwanted physical conditions.

Eating too fast

Eating too fast is one of the most common bad habits around. The reasons for it are probably personal; maybe you were always hurried as a child or in competition with siblings. Maybe the fast pace of modern society has left you feeling that you always need to rush to the next task. Maybe the food tastes so good that you find yourself shoveling it in! Whatever the motivation, it pays to be aware of this habit.

If you don’t chew your food properly you are going to give your body a lot of hard work to do to break it down. This is especially the case with meat and fibrous foods. You will notice lots of bloating and gas (byproducts of digestion). Another thing is that you won’t give your body a chance to process it and as a result the signal from your brain that lets you know you’re full won’t be triggered in time. By the time it lets you know, you’ll probably have consumed a load more calories than you needed.

Skipping meals

Thinking that not eating breakfast (and therefore eating less calories) is going to contribute to weight loss is a common misconception embraced by those who don’t realise that it’s not all about calorie intake but also about metabolic burn. Busy people who pay more attention to their schedule than their food intake should also take note. Not eating for an extended period can actually have the opposite effect than anticipated, shunting your body into starvation mode. Without a regular intake, the body will be unsure when the next fuel is coming and will attempt to preserve energy by burning fewer calories.

You’ll also get hungry much later in the day, and potentially fill your body up when it would be better off having less food. It’s very difficult to get a good night’s sleep when your body is working overtime trying to digest a heavy load. Much better to eat regularly (every 4 or five hours is thought to be ideal) and to consume the larger portions ahead of the time you’re likely to burn them off easily, e.g. in the gym or walking the dog.

Going for the low-fat options

The problem with ‘diet’ or low-fat foods is that where the sugar and fat have been removed, something even nastier has often been put in their places. On top of this, there is a lot of misconception around fat and whether it makes you fat. Studies have show that it is not necessarily the fat that makes you overweight, so avoiding it isn’t going to result in the trim waistline you’re craving. On top of this, there are many fats that are actually good for you (even if they’re calorie rich), like coconut oil, avocados and certain nuts; the fats in these foods can actually promote fat-burn by kick-starting your metabolism.

If you buy that low-fat yoghurt thinking that it’s better for you, make sure that you’re not inadvertently consuming horrifically damaging additives like aspartame in place of the sugar you wanted to avoid. The labels are always obscure and the additive names overly convoluted. That’s a bit of a give-away in itself. These foods frequently leave you wanting more and unless you’re disciplined, you may well end up eating even more (sugary or ‘carby’ foods) to satiate the persistent cravings. pH health don’t advocate eating an excess of sugary foods as this can lead to candida problems.

Over indulging with ‘health foods’

Eating clean, organic, whole foods is undoubtedly a prudent health choice, but don’t make the mistake of thinking that because they’re not polluted with toxic pesticides it’s OK to eat as much as you want. At the end of the day, a carbohydrate is a carbohydrate, for example, and will still convert into sugar in the blood, so if you eat too many carbs at lunch you’re still going to gain weight (and possibly fall asleep at your desk mid-afternoon).

A smoothie is a great breakfast, and when all the food is laid out before you blend it you can see that it’s the equivalent of a fruit salad. Once you blend it you might get the feeling you’ve only had a drink for breakfast and convince yourself you need more. Quite often, you don’t need any more and if the food is clean and nutritious enough, your body won’t keep nagging you with food cravings afterwards anyway. Eating clean and organic can often mean you need even less food, so no need to overeat it just because it’s good for you.

At pH health we promote a clean and natural diet, but we still recommend that you are sensible about how much you consume each day. The most important thing of all is to keep an alkaline environment, so make sure the foods you eat are not too acidic.

Calorie counting

Calorie counting isn’t that great an idea. What’s more important is the quality of the calories than the quantity. If you’re following a detox or diet program that requires it for a short period, sure, go ahead. But as a long-term practice it’s impractical and quite stressful. For a start, it’s hard work and takes a lot of mental energy to monitor such a thing.

Information on how many calories are in your foods can vary greatly and depend on the mass of the ingredients, something you can’t monitor if you’re eating in a restaurant, or a ready meal. Processed foods are a ‘no-no’ anyway, if you value your health.

pH health are keen to see a healthier, more vibrant world and we know that one of the most important ways to cultivate this is through health; that means healthy eating habits. We are happy to advise you on health foods and supplements to promote that kind of lifestyle every day. Talk to us!