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3 Bad Habits to Break Today! — an article on the Smart Living Network
August 14, 2010 at 3:00 PMComments: 0 Faves: 0

3 Bad Habits to Break Today!


Vices. We all have them. Some of the major problem-causers, like alcoholism and smoking, are easy to spot. But some other severe health hindrances have flown under the radar for quite some time. Below are three of America's most common, unhealthy habits, and the reasons you should quit them.

#1 Fast Food

Let's face it. The fast food trap is an easy one to fall into. In the 21st century, we're always racing from task to task and sometimes we just don't have time to stop and fix a proper meal. The drive-thru window was invented for exactly that reason. But what's convenient for your schedule isn't necessarily convenient for your health. A diet with even moderate intake of fast food can be very unhealthy. Studies have shown that moderate consumption of fast food leads to increase risk of heart disease and diabetes. Obesity strikes faster in those who consume more fast food, even if they're consuming the same amount of calories as those who avoid fast food. Studies have also shown that those who commonly eat fast food severely lack calcium in their diet, a deficiency which can lead to muscle cramps and pains, weak teeth and bones, and even osteoporosis. The blend of sugars and fats in fast foods has been proven highly addictive, so breaking the habit won't be easy. But with the right strategy and will power, you can do it. Here are some helpful tips to break the habit:

  • Focus your diet on low fat veggies or Mediterranean foods. These foods can help quickly replace the nutrients your body has been missing for a long time.
  • Weight bearing exercise, including running, weight lifting, and sports are highly recommended. This will not only help you lose weight, but it will also strengthen your heart.
  • Be militant about quitting fast food. When you'll be eating away from home, pack and plan your meals ahead of time so you're not forced to eat out.

#2 Caffeine

Caffeine is the socially acceptable drug. It's addictive and it provides a buzz. Withdrawal symptoms can set in as soon as a few hours after you miss a fix. Yes, caffeine can be a very useful tool if you're in need of a pick-me-up, especially in circumstances like night driving or early morning work. But like all drugs, with addiction comes consequences. These can include:

  • Tooth decay
  • Weak bones
  • Increased risk of hypertension
  • Addiction and dependence
  • Interference with weight loss

By far, the worst side effect of caffeine is its interference with creativity and problem solving. Continual dependence on caffeine can leave you feeling groggy, fatigued, and give you difficulty concentrating. This can severely dampen the way you handle problems throughout the day. Freedom from caffeine means regaining control of your life again. It means being dependent on you and only you, not relying on a caffeine fix to get you through the day. Below are a few tips for quitting.

Switch to Tea Tea has less caffeine than coffee. You can slowly wean yourself off coffee by replacing it with tea. For example, if you drink three cups of coffee a day, then replace a single cup of coffee with a cup of tea for the first few days. Then several days later drink two cups of tea and only one cup of coffee. Continue this until you're drinking tea instead of coffee entirely.

Start on a Weekend It takes four to 11 days to fully escape caffeine withdrawals. Start on a weekend so that the withdrawal symptoms don't interfere with your work schedule, this will also allow you to sleep more.

Get Extra Sleep While quitting caffeine, your body will need two to four more hours of sleep than usual. Make sure to leave room in your schedule to compensate for this.

#3 Late Night Snacking

It's the end of a long work day. You've worked hard and eaten well all day. You come home and you're exhausted, but it's too early to go to bed. You turn the TV to your favorite sit-com and veg out. But several minutes in you're struck by a need for snack food, something to help you enjoy the television. Late night snacking can be one of the worst hindrances to a healthy diet. And it's not always because you're hungry. Sometimes it's simply because you're bored or your body is trained to expect food while you're watching late night TV. But either way, it can cause severe weight gain. This is because eating later in the evening conflicts with your natural body rhythms, meaning your body isn't prepared to metabolize calories at that point in time. Breaking the late night binge habit can be tough, especially if you've done it for a long time and your body is trained to expect food in the evening. But here are a few tips to help you win the battle.

Eat More Small Meals If you find yourself hungry later in the evening, try eating five or six smaller meals instead of three large ones. If you portion these correctly throughout the day, you shouldn't be struck by hunger pangs later in the evening.

Don't Buy Junk Food Half the problem is the availability of junk food. Instead of making it readily available, don't stock up on junk food. That way the temptation won't be there in the first place.

Replace Television If you're like most people, your body is trained to expect food during television, it's a way most people enhance the experience. So instead of triggering your body to expect food, try finding a more productive hobby. Whether it's art, music, reading, or even playing a game with a friend, a new hobby can help keep you from junk food and help you expend your energy in a more useful way.

Find a Substitute If you absolutely have to have something during the evening, try replacing junk food with something healthy. Make decaffeinated tea and sip on it throughout the evening, or eat an apple or celery with peanut butter. At least then, your junk food fix is being redirected to something less damaging. And those are three of the most damaging habits most Americans indulge in. By cutting them from your lifestyle, you'll already be several steps ahead of most people on the path to healthy living.


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