As we continue to look at unhealthy habits that can affect our health, let’s turn to the subtler factors: things we may not recognize outright, but which also play a role in our health.
Junk foods lack essential nutrients. On the other hand, they contain unhealthy ingredients, detrimental to health. Very often, fried foods and baked foods contains trans-fat, known to cause heart problems. They also tend to be high in added sugar and salt which are ingredients that are best kept to a minimum.
Junk foods include- bakery products (biscuits, puffs, cakes, pastries, various types of white breads) and fast foods like pizzas, hamburgers, French fries, etc. Other deep-fried foods are also best avoided such as deep-fried samosas, kebabs, kachoris, puris, vadas, mixture and namkeens to name a few. These foods are made of maida and other processed ingredients.
Very often the oil in which they are fried (especially if they are eaten from outside) has reached its smoking point (which releases toxic fumes and breaks down the oil components). These chemical changes are unhealthy and also release cancer causing compounds. So, the next time you mindlessly munch chips while watching TV, give a thought as to how these were prepared. Hopefully it will dampen your desire for these unhealthy foods!
In addition, junk foods with their unhealthy ingredients use nutrients from the body to help digest them. This could lead to tiredness or fatigue when consumed on a regular basis. It would be wise to nourish your body with healthy foods (fresh, natural, unprocessed) instead.
Eating too fast
Eating too fast can give you more than a stomach ache! This is something we may do without giving a second thought. When food is in front of us, some of us tend to shovel it down as fast as we can. Can we blame a busy and hectic lifestyle for our habit of eating our meals at break-neck speed? What happens when we do this on a regular basis?
Well for one, you may gain weight. As subtle as this may seem, this could be one of the many factors leading to weight gain. The stomach takes 20 minutes to signal the brain that it is full. Now, if you are wolfing down your meal in less than 10 minutes, you may be consuming extra calories that you don’t actually need. These excess calories can lead to weight gain, blood sugar fluctuation and insulin resistance.
It is important to eat mindfully and take time to appreciate the food that is in front of you. Savour the aroma, appreciate the colour and texture and take time to actually chew well on every bite. This makes you value what you eat and helps you stay aware of all that you have eaten. In addition, chewing well helps in proper digestion and allows your body to make full use of each nutrient.
Eating late and delayed meals
Your meals should not be delayed and neither should you keep long gaps between them. It is best to eat breakfast within 30 minutes of waking up. Try to have your lunch by 12:30 pm and no later than 2 pm. A healthy evening snack (fruit/ vegetable sticks) can keep your energy levels up and prevent you from feeling too hungry. Between dinner and bedtime, a gap of at least 1 ½ to 2 hours is ideal. This ensures good digestion and prevents you from sleeping with a full stomach. Eating late can cause indigestion and difficulty in getting sound sleep.
For those who work on shifts, you need to regulate your meal timings and pattern in the same way. Schedule a fixed time for meals, according to your shift and stick to them. You may even need to carry a compact meal with you to the office that you can eat 2 hours before bedtime. Prior planning will ensure success.
In our hectic lifestyle, it is possible that we may tend to forget to eat. On the flip side, in an attempt to lose weight, skipping a meal may seem to make sense. It is important to know when to control on calories. Try to have lighter meals towards the second half of the day. Avoid skipping breakfast, since this could lead to a loss in energy, sluggishness and lethargy. It also makes it hard to focus and concentrate on tasks effectively.
If you do not have time to eat before leaving home, pack a compact breakfast that you can take with you to the office. Once you have reached work, try and eat immediately before you get caught up with work. But as far as possible, schedule your breakfast at least 30 minutes before you leave home.
Skipping meals may also lead to weight gain, because not eating can cause the body to conserve energy and lower metabolism. So, if you want to lose weight, you are better off eating a healthy meal. At dinner time, you can have something light; avoid very heavy, oily and spicy foods. Sometimes a roti and sabzi or a soup and salad can keep you feeling full and satisfied.
Overuse of your smart phone
Our smart phones can be beneficial in so many ways, but not when they seem to take over our time. We need time to rest and recuperate and unwinding with your smart phone may not be the best idea. It is better to keep your phone away, especially at night before you sleep. The blue light the phone emits tends to upset your sleep hormones, making it harder to get to sleep.
In addition, during the day, being bent over your phone can cause postural problems, especially in the head and neck area. Constant texting can affect the hand muscles and even the thumb. Try and schedule a time when you access your smart phone and limit your screen time within that range. Unplug and unwind by doing an activity that will actually help you relax!
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Junk food. (2019). Retrieved from https://healthywa.wa.gov.au/Articles/J_M/Junk-food
Management, W., Loss, W., & Products, W. (2019). The Effects of Eating Too Fast | Livestrong.com. Retrieved from https://www.livestrong.com/article/446323-the-effects-of-eating-too-fast/
Nield, D. (2019). Eating Too Fast Can Lead to Several Health Problems, Study Shows. Retrieved from https://www.sciencealert.com/quick-eating-bad-for-waistline-heart-health
The Danger of Cooking with Healthy Oils Past Their Smoke Point. (2019). Retrieved from https://www.business2community.com/health-wellness/the-danger-of-cooking-with-healthy-oils-past-their-smoke-point-0418150