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By Sarah Taylor

Turn bad eating habits into great ones

We all have that one comfort food we just love to eat, but sometimes we eat too much and don't always realize the health risks that come with it. People love the convenience of fast food restaurants whether they're at work or out running errands. Good eating habits are a necessity to staying healthy and active. Without them, you may end up having health problems that can severely change your life for the worse. Be nice to your body and it will be nice to you.

Know the risks

Unhealthy eating habits are harmful to yourself and your family. Just because you don't notice health problems immediately doesn't mean they aren't there. There are always long-term effects from anything unhealthy that you eat. If you're going to eat fast food and comfort snacks, do so in moderation.

A few negative effects of a poor diet:

  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Delayed bone growth
  • Increased stress level
  • Obesity
  • Lowered energy level
  • High cholesterol
  • Clogged arteries

Watch your portion size; you can undereat as well as overeat, and both cause problems. If your body isn't getting what it needs to produce certain hormones, etc., to keep your body healthy, you can become malnourished. Overeating leads to obesity, which triggers other issues. Overeating stretches your stomach to accommodate all of the food you take in. You become hungrier and hungrier, as it takes time and exercise for your stomach to get back to its normal size; your body eventually gets used to eating that amount of food, which in turn becomes a habit.

Your body needs certain nutrients that it can't make on its own. The right food helps our brain function and energy levels. If you don't eat healthy, you won't get the help from them that you need. You may have a high-stress job where you run around all day for your boss. If you don't eat right, you may notice that your stress level is up; you may have headaches and just want to go home to sleep. We've all been there. If you step back and think about what you're putting into your body, you may notice that some items in your fridge need to go.

You might be surprised to learn that fruits and vegetables alone are full of nutrients to give you energy that'll help you make it through the day. Even if you're running late, what's more convenient than grabbing an apple?

A common bad habit is eating late at night. Eating snack food at that time causes your body to take the fats out of the food and store it in your body; meanwhile, your body isn't being active in order to use the fats, so it doesn't know what to do with them except store them.

Getting a grip

Good habits don't develop overnight. Switching from old ones takes time, and you have to be ready to commit. Keep a positive mind, and concentrate on the reasons why you want to change your habits. Keep a food journal for a while to keep track of what you eat and how much. You should WANT to do this and not feel like it's just a need.

Taking the step

If you don't usually read product labels when you shop, start doing it. You may not be ready to buy all organic food right off the bat, but starting slow may help you realize what you've been putting into your body and how expensive it can be. You'll also discover that many processed foods contain large amounts of fat, sugar and salt that you can do without.

Say no to fast food or at least cut down. Check out your local health food stores; go inside and look around to see their prices and what they have to offer. Most stores do weekly deals, keep an eye out for them. There are many small steps you can take to get into better eating habits:

  • Use less oil when cooking-meats already have their own fats in them
  • Drink more water-this washes out the toxins in your body and helps skin
  • Read product labels-know what you're putting into your body
  • Grow your own garden-this is a great way to get fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Cut out artificial flavorings
  • Buy local and organic

Do some research; look up benefits of fruits, vegetables and meats you're wanting to eat more of and you'll realize that it's a better deal than just $1 off that burger at your favorite fast food restaurant.

Once you understand the potential and deliciousness of healthy foods, you'll wonder why you ever started your bad eating habits to begin with. It takes time and commitment, but in the end, you'll notice that changing your bad eating habits to good habits was the best decision you've ever made.

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