Latest news! The eating habits you should avoid after turning 30 are the same poor eating habits you routinely engaged in during those formative years, ages 11 to 22. You probably know them: too many drive-thru dinners, drinking 20-ounce sodas, inhaling bags of Doritos, eating pizza for breakfast. The problem is, at age 30 and up, your body, your cells, your metabolism and, heck, your whole life is different.
“As a child, you were burning up all that extra energy you were consuming; as an adult, you are probably much less physically active, responsible for doing a lot more and dealing with a lot more life stressors,” says Johna Burdeos, RD and blogger . “Because of all of this, your diet plays a much more important role in your health; you have to wake up with what you should have been paying attention to all along.”
Burdeos doesn’t mind ringing alarm bells in your ears if it will help you adopt a healthier lifestyle. After all, he sees the results of a lifetime of bad eating habits every day in his work as a nutritionist working with very ill and long-term acute patients.
“I worked on both sides, on an outpatient basis doing preventative counseling and, in the hospital, addressing chronic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension and heart disease.” Hence, she is perfectly aware of the advice that people ignore until a health problem forces them to take that advice to heart.
“Public health messages are everywhere,” he says. “How diet affects the body is no secret. Many people have to be diagnosed with a life-threatening disease like diabetes to get the picture and start changing.”
We’re sure you’d prefer prevention over treatment, so here are six eating habits to avoid by middle age to help you live a longer, healthier life.
“I’m human, I like my delicacies,” admits Burdeos. “An occasional piece of cake won’t give you diabetes.”
But a piece of cake here, a bunch of Girl Scout cookies there, and a chocolate bar every afternoon to get me, might just send your blood sugar into the prediabetes zone.
Look for models in the big picture, says Burdeos. One of the best ways to identify unhealthy eating habits is to keep track of everything you drink and eat on your smartphone or notepad.
“Within two days, you will notice the eating habits you want to start breaking from,” he says.
“One thing I never move on is sugary drinks,” says Burdeos. “Customers will try to compromise it, but I’m not moving because large studies and meta-analyzes show a strong association between sodas and other sugary drinks and weight gain and increased risk of disease.”
Start weaning off sweet things gradually. Drink water. You don’t need the extra calories from SSB, she says.
Do you need more motivation? Find out what happens to your body when you drink sodas.
There is a term for this: eating without thinking. That’s what happens when you watch Netflix and don’t realize you’ve eaten the entire pint of ice cream until episode three. We often make it a habit to eat without thinking when we are under stress.
“Looking for food to cope and comfort is a common habit that leads to overeating,” says Burdeos.
The solution is to recognize when you are stressed and choose to be present and aware.
“Practice mindful eating,” says Burdeos. “Start small and realistically. I recommend choosing a meal of the day, perhaps on a weekend when you have more time. Remove all distractions and be present at your meal. Eat slowly. Enjoy.”
Food should be tasted, not shoveled in the mouth.
Skipping meals to lose weight or trying overly restrictive diets will backfire.
“Those only lead to long-term damage at the expense of short-term gain and your weight loss will mostly be just water weight,” warns Bordeos.
The greatest danger of habitual refusal of food is getting involved in the yo-yo diet.
“This tells the primal part of your brain to go into survival mode, lowering your metabolism and making your body cling to every calorie,” says Burdeos. “This results in a regain of that weight and to add insult to injury, you will likely add extra weight as well.”
Don’t fight your cravings; they are too powerful.
“Give yourself permission to fulfill a wish,” advises Burdeos. “When you get too stern and try to suppress cravings, you will indulge too much later on.”
There is a technique for satisfying a craving without overeating. You guessed it: awareness.
“Be there and savor your surprise,” says Burdeos.
Winging means making quick decisions on the fly. This can be dangerous when it comes to your diet. If you wait until you’re hungry to figure out what to eat, you will inevitably end up choosing fast food and processed food, such as canned or packaged foods full of preservatives, refined grains and sugar. The antidote to this bad eating habit is planning.
“Diet quality is something I preach about; it takes knowledge and time to make those better choices,” says Burdeos.
For example, Burdeos says you first need to understand the dangers of too much saturated and trans fat before you can make an effort to consume healthier fats like olive oil, flaxseed, avocado, and omega-3 fats from oily fish. Planning also helps you to control portions.
“When you start practicing mindful eating, use measuring cups to control portion sizes,” says Burdeos. “Not always, just in the beginning when you’re learning what a healthy portion looks like.”
All of these are habits that have taken many of us years, perhaps even decades, to develop, so Burdeos recommends being patient with yourself by taking small steps to break them.