Silent unhealthy habits

Some habits, though common, are rather unhealthy and if done continually can have a negative effect on our health.

Mechanical munching

After a long day, many women like to sit and catch up on a series or news. However, they want to emulate the cinema habits hence grabbing a bag of crisps or plantain to munch on while they are at it. “Before an hour elapses, without noticing, a whole bag will be gone. You will only realise that when you dip your hand in the bag and it is empty. You will wonder how it all disappeared but that is what it means to eat while focusing on something else,” Irene Namuli, a nutrition consultant, says. It gets worse if someone has a couple of these in the kitchen because they will automatically walk there for a refill,” she says.

However, Namuli says these snacks are high in processed salts and sugars, hence giving you many calories that the body will not use. “Additionally, they are not satisfying, hence beckoning you to keep eating,” she says.

How to overcome

Do one thing: Rather than eat and watch, make time for eating. “Serve the portion you desire and eat it then move on to watch your TV programme. That way, you will not eat unintentionally,” she says.

Stock up on good food: The stockpile in your kitchen dictates what you will eat. If all you have is junk, then you will keep choosing that. “Your mind will prepare to consume what it has seen on your kitchen shelves because that is all there is. Therefore, create a healthy eating environment by choosing to buy healthy foods,” she says.

Work your mind: You are very likely to eat what you see first. Therefore, even when the junk is out, ensure that the pans are not filled with leftovers. “That just serves as an invitation to serve up something. Put the leftovers in the refrigerator as that will require warming, time that you may not be willing to spare,” she says.

Eat to ‘kill’ stress

For some people, stressful moments numb their appetite. However, for others, the stress hormone- cortisol gets into overdrive, making them eat to numb the stress. Namuli says the more cortisol one has in their system, the more they crave fatty and sugary foods. “Being aware of how your system reacts when you are stressed is very important. Awareness is a step towards finding a solution to the problem,” she says.

It is important to note that stress-induced eating is a leading cause of unhealthy fat deposits, hence unhealthy weight. “With increased cortisol comes visceral fat which is hidden behind abdominal muscles or around body organs. Such fat is harmful as it weighs down the organs. It also leads to insulin resistance, and undetected stroke as well as other cardiovascular illness. The other fat is belly fat which is also stubborn to deal with,” she says.

Namuli adds that such eating also affects one’s metabolism and reduces the body’s ability to repair itself.

How to overcome

Self-awareness: When one is aware, you can see how to refocus your energy. “It could be substituting food with jogging. One may also opt for healthier food when all else fails,” she says.

Manage the stress: Stresses cannot be wished away but can be dealt with otherwise, issues such as anxiety, and panic attacks may ensue. Therefore, Namuli suggests that one learns to prioritise by working with to-do lists. “It also helps to tackle one assignment to completion to avoid juggling many things. You also need to take breaks to allow your mind to rest in case you feel pressure building up,” she says.

Ultimately, despite the pressures of life, women can live a healthy life if they are conscious about their decisions and choices.


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