5 Bad Eating Habits and How to Break Them

By: Kerri-Ann Jennings, M.S., R.D.

These 5 sneaky habits may be sabotaging your weight-loss efforts. Here's how to break 'em.

woman eating on her phone

Photo: Eva-Katalin/ Getty Images

If your healthy eating efforts feel like they are being undermined, you may be making some tricky eating mistakes. There are several sneaky habits that can sabotage your weight-loss efforts. While there are no "bad" foods, there are smarter ways to eat, especially if you're trying to lose weight. 

Related: Clean Up Your Diet and Lose Weight

Find out if any of these are trumping your best efforts and learn how to get back on track.

1. Bad Habit to Break: Keeping Tempting Foods Around

It’s hard to resist temptation when it’s staring you in the face. You're much more likely to grab cookies, candy or ice cream if it's always in your house. Do yourself a favor and keep tempting foods out of your sight. If you’re going to keep irresistible snacks at home, stash them inside a cupboard (maybe on a top shelf?). Keep your fruit displayed proudly out on the counter and pre-chop veggies so they're ready for snacking. 

2. Bad Habit to Break: Skipping Breakfast

You might think that skipping breakfast—a whole meal!—would help you cut calories, but the research says that eating breakfast can better help you lose weight. Breakfast eaters tend to weigh less and are more successful at losing weight—and keeping it off—than those who skip the meal. What’s more, people who typically eat breakfast also get more fiber, calcium, vitamins A and C, riboflavin, zinc and iron.  Not hungry when you first get up? Don’t worry. Eating breakfast doesn’t have to be the first thing you do each day. Just make sure that when you do eat, your meal is something that will sustain you for a few hours—it should include some fiber and protein. (Find out the #1 Food You Should Eat for Breakfast.)

3. Bad Habit to Break: Distracted Eating

You’re eating alone, so you reach for your phone and text, scroll the 'gram or play games. Or you read the paper, watch TV or use your computer. All of these distractions take your attention away from eating and make it harder for you to really experience and tune in to how satiated/full you are. That can lead you to eat more than you’re really hungry for, either now or later. Aim to be more mindful when you eat and really tune into how hungry and full you are.

Learn more: Mindful Eating: The Key to Eating What You Want and Fully Enjoying It

4. Bad Habit to Break: Eating Straight Out of the Bag

If you’re noshing directly out of the package—whether you’re eating chips, crackers, cookies or ice cream—it’s easy to eat several servings without realizing it. A key step when you’re trying to lose weight is literally watching what you eat—being aware of what and how much you’re eating. That’s why keeping a food journal is so effective. Get a handle on runaway portions by measuring out a serving…if you want more, measure that too. Being conscious of what you’re eating will help you meet your weight goals.

Related: 10 Simple Ways to Control Portion Sizes

5. Bad Habit to Break: Eating on the Run

Eating in the car, snacking at your desk, drinking a high-calorie smoothie or latte while walking around—it’s all too easy to take in excessive calories if you’re eating on the go. To curb this type of distracted eating, sit down to eat.