Tag Archives: food

10 Common Habits That Get You Hooked

hook-485885-mYou probably have activities that you love to do. What you may not realize is that normal hobbies and habits can turn into an addiction.

When you hear the word addiction, your mind may automatically think of dependence on a substance, such as drugs or alcohol. But, the definition of addiction may surprise you. According to Wikipedia, “Addiction is a state characterized by compulsive engagement in rewarding stimuli, despite adverse consequences.

That means you can also become addicted to “behaviors.” Something that starts out as fun turns into a habit, and then becomes a compulsion.

Here are 10 surprising things you may be addicted to:

The Internet
You may think that browsing the internet is just a fun way to pass the time. However, studies have shown that internet addiction actually alters the brain in ways that are similar to the affects of drug and alcohol addiction. An addiction to the internet involves loss of control, as well as negative consequences at home and at work.

Smartphones are another new habit that can become an addiction. You keep it with you all the time and check it every few minutes. You ignore in-person interactions to catch a text or a post from someone you haven’t seen in years. You work too much because you’re constantly checking your phone. Put the phone down and have a conversation!

You may not realize that caffeine is a drug. As soon as I wake up in the morning, I want coffee. I am on edge without it and will get a headache from caffeine withdrawal. Coffee, soda and energy drinks can all be overused. As long as you don’t overdo it, your caffeine habit can be harmless.

Many people get sugar cravings. Foods high in carbs, fats and sugar can affect your brain just like drugs do. You may be craving a chocolate candy bar or an ice cream cone. It doesn’t necessarily mean you’re addicted, but your sweet tooth can get out of control and contribute to other health problems.

I admit it. I have a shopping addiction. I love clothes, shoes, kitchen gadgets and more. I just enjoy the act of shopping. When you shop, it may lift you up when you’re feeling down or just make you happy. That’s because your brain actually releases a feel-good chemical called dopamine. Chronic shopping may also mean you have impulse-control problems or anxiety issues. Shopping too often can also lead to financial, social or deeper emotional problems.

You can become addicted to the sun. The ultraviolet spectrum of sunlight releases chemicals in your body called endorphins. They make you feel good. You may also feel like you’re never tan enough no matter how tan you get. This may be a sign of an obsessive-compulsive or body dysmorphic disorder.

Of the behavioral addictions, gambling is the one most closely related to drug and alcohol addiction. Gambling lights up the same areas in the brain as drug addictions. You may bet on an office pool, gamble online or gamble more seriously at slot machines, poker tables, or off track betting. If you’re not lucky, betting can wreak havoc on your finances, job and family life.

As I sit here writing this on a Saturday morning, it’s possible that I am addicted to work. While most of the work world looks forward to weekends, those who have an addiction may find themselves working nights and weekends. While we joke about being a “workaholic,” it can jeopardize a person’s health and relationships.

Videos games
Can’t put down the video game console? Do you think about playing games while doing other activities? Research shows that boys and men most commonly have a video game addiction. If you’re shirking responsibilities, work or social activities to play video games, you may be addicted. With games becoming more realistic and challenging, it’s even harder to separate fantasy from reality.

Food can become a problem if you’re eating to ease emotions, overeating while alone and then feeling guilty after the binge. While food can seem like a drug for people with eating disorders, it’s not considered a true addiction. It’s important to develop healthy eating habits and avoid issues with food.

It is possible to have too much of a good thing. Any activity or habit can become an issue if it begins to control your life. It’s important to find balance in everything you do. If you discover that you’re hooked on a behavior and it’s having negative consequences, it may be time to make a change!

11 Healthy Eating Habits for 2014

Eat breakfast every day healthy eating habitsI love to eat. And I like to eat junk. Give me potato chips, brownies and pie a la mode. That was okay until I hit 40 years old. Then, things started to change. My butt became more jiggily and my belly got paunchier.

I need to change my eating habits for better health. There is no magic diet or easy fix. It’s all about finding balance in your diet, and balance in your life in general.

Healthy eating comes down to creating healthy habits. Let’s face it: with all the fast food and junk food options available, it can be hard to resist giving in to bad eating habits.

You can make lifelong changes to how and what you eat. But, it won’t happen overnight. It takes time to make good habits stick.

Here are 11 healthy eating tips to help you on the path to a balanced lifestyle:

Eat breakfast every day
Most people who have achieved and maintained their weight loss goals, eat breakfast every morning. Your morning meal will jump start your metabolism and give you the energy to tackle the day. Eating breakfast can also help you absorb more vitamins and minerals. You are less likely to have a hunger attack during the day when you’ve had a healthy breakfast.

Eat more often
When you eat more often – usually every 2 to 3 hours – you keep your stress hormone cortisol at a steady level. High cortisol levels tell your body to start storing fat, typically in your belly region. Skipping meals sends your cortisol levels off the charts. Eating 6 small meals a day can help you lose weight and feel better.

Eat moderate portions
However, if you are eating more often, you need to eat moderate portions. Eating more often doesn’t give you a license to eat more. It’s about letting your body digest and use energy more efficiently throughout the day.

Drink water
I know we have blogged about this many times. Drinking water affects so many areas of your health. It keeps your body working in homeostasis and aids in almost every aspect of your body’s functions. And we don’t mean soda, iced tea or energy drinks – just plain old water.

Know your diet downfalls
We all have our diet downfalls. You may salt everything you eat. You might crave sugar when you get tired or stressed. You may add a lot of butter or dressings to your food. We all have our bad eating habits. I love sweets. I would like to eat dessert with every meal and as a snack. Make it a goal to break these bad eating habits.

Reduce (not eliminate) unhealthy choices
At the same time, you want to enjoy your meals. If you try to cut out all the bad food choices at once, you will become disheartened by your healthy eating habits very quickly. Make it a point to moderate the less healthy choices. Eat a small piece of cake, or salt your food half as much as you normally would. As you adjust to better eating and start feeling better, you will find you miss those unhealthy foods less than you think.

Listen to your body
When you start to feel hungry between meals, eat a healthy snack. When you feel full, stop eating. Because we have food available all the time, we tend to eat when we’re bored, lonely or stressed.

Sit down for dinner
Make it a point to sit down to dinner every evening. You can talk with your family or friends about the ups and downs of the day. Or, simply listen to everyone else. If you live alone, you can still sit down and enjoy your meal – rather than grazing or eating over the sink. Sitting down to a meal helps you relax, connect with others and enjoy your food.

Plan to have setbacks
You will fall off the healthy wagon, so to speak. You’ll pig out from time to time. You’ll have three donuts at work after you just had breakfast. You’ll salt that already salty food. Don’t beat yourself up or feel like you have failed. Tomorrow is a new day to get back on track to creating balanced eating habits.

Set a bedtime routine
While it may not seem to have anything to do with healthy eating habits, a good night’s sleep can do wonders for your health and wellness. In addition, going to bed and waking up around the same time every day can help set your body’s natural rhythms. You will feel more rested and less likely to become stressed or turn to food for comfort or an energy boost during the day.

Find your balance over time
Healthier eating habits take time. There is no quick fix. It’s about changing your mindset and relationship with food. Start slow and make changes to your eating habits over time. Every healthy change you make to your diet matters. Even if you can’t completely give up sweets, salt or fatty foods, reducing how much you eat or how often you eat it, still helps you on your path to a more balanced diet. And creating a more balanced life!

How to get your kids to eat healthy

help kids eat healthyEvery parent struggles with getting their kids to eat healthy foods. You may have heard, “Eww, broccoli is gross.” Or, “I don’t like it – it tastes mushy.” And my favorite, “I’m not eating that!”

I have three kids with very different eating habits. My oldest daughter has always been a great eater. She loves fruits, vegetables and almost anything. My son eats nothing. Seriously. He survives on bologna, bacon and macaroni and cheese. My youngest daughter is somewhere in the middle. She eats most types of foods, but is picky about some things.

I think most parents worry about whether their kids are eating a balanced diet. With my son, I wonder sometimes how he eats enough to stay alive. I have battled with my kids about what they eat for 15 years.

Here are some tips to getting your kids to eat healthy foods. Most likely, they won’t all work, but maybe you can add a few into your routine and improve your kids’ eating habits.

take your kids grocery shoppingTake your kids shopping
I have found that if I let my kids pick the healthy foods, they are more likely to eat those foods. Yes, they still try to sneak donuts and honey buns into the shopping cart, but with some guidance they will select healthy foods.

Also, we can plan the meals we will make from the foods they selected and that helps get them more excited about their choices. They learn how to create a more balanced meal with lean meat, a fruit and vegetable, and whole-grain bread, rice or pasta.

Cook with your kids
Another way to get kids more excited about the foods they eat is to let them help you in the kitchen. If my kids help fix it, they are more likely to eat it because they have pride and ownership of the healthy meal they created.

In addition, you have the opportunity to educate your kids about the health benefits of different foods. My son plays sports and lifts weights. I talk to him about the importance of protein to build muscles and eating a well-balanced diet to grow and get stronger. He has started eating more and a greater variety of foods because he understands how it can benefit him in the long run.

make healthy foods funMake it fun
If every meal is a struggle and a fight to get your kids to eat, it isn’t fun for anyone. Make trying something new fun. You can create a chart with your kids and add stars every time your child tries a food they don’t think they’ll like. It may take several times of trying a new food before your child acquires a taste for it. So, try not to get discouraged or make a big deal if he or she doesn’t like it the first time.

You won’t be able to change your children’s eating habits overnight. It is an ongoing process. Try not to nag about unhealthy choices. You can let your kids know you are pleased when they make healthy choices. Never use food as a reward. This could lead to weight problems later in life if they associate food with emotions. Avoid placing restrictions on food. Your kids will still eat junk food, but they will learn to limit it in favor of more nutritional options.

Give choices
With my kids, it seems like everything is a power struggle. If I can give them choices, it makes all of our lives easier. When we have tacos, they can choose the toppings they want to add. I also give them a choice of snacks: apple slices, a banana, or crackers and peanut butter.

Keep healthy food handy
I try to keep good snacks in a cabinet that my kids can all reach. I have granola bars, crackers and fruit cups on the lower shelves. In the refrigerator, I keep fresh fruits and veggies in the bottom crisper and yogurt cups on the lower shelf. If healthy foods are easy to grab, my kids will typically choose these foods.

visit local grower farmers marketVisit the source
If you can actually take your kids to a local grower or farm, it can be a great way to learn more about where foods come from. You can also visit a farmer’s market so that your kids can help you pick out healthy foods. Even better, if you have the outdoor space to plant a small garden, it gets kids even more involved when they grow their own food.

Be a role model
We all know that nothing gets past a kid. If you want them to eat healthier, then you have to set a good example. Kids want to imitate their parents. Your good eating habits will encourage them to do the same. You can also help shape your kids’ relationships with food. If you call yourself fat or constantly count calories and beat yourself up over food choices, your kids may pick up these habits.

Don’t give up
For whatever reason, the stuff that’s bad for us tastes really good! And there are so many unhealthy options available today. Teaching your children to make good food choices is an ongoing process. For that matter, it can be a life-long journey for us grown ups, too. So, keep offering those nutritious foods and your kids will develop good eating habits!

Are your kids picky eaters? Do you have tips for getting kids to make healthy food choices?