The most common bad food habits and how to break them

The most common bad food habits and how to break them

Updated: Mar 26, 2024Veronika Larisova


  1. Too many Sugary Treats!
  2. Barely Eating During The Day But Eating A Lot In The Evening
  3. Hidden Sugar Consumption
  4. Over-Eating "Diet" or "Low Fat" Foods, including Skim Milk/Yoghurts
  5. Consuming Too Much Artificial Sweetener
  6. You Skip Breakfast
  7. You Drink Extra Calories
  8. You Don't Eat The Right Snacks
  9. You Don't Drink Enough Water
  10. You Train Hard, You Eat Well… Then You Party Hard!
  11. You Don't Eat Fat
  12. You Deprive Yourself Of Calories
  13. Lack of Protein
  14. Drinking & Eating Soy Products
  15. Eating Bread, Pasta & Other Starches Daily
  16. Not Eating Your Vegetables
  17. Overeating dairy

    Start Breaking the Habits

    Set up a food diary for a week. All you need to do is to note down everything you eat each day and how you feel after eating it. Once you've been keeping a food diary for a week it's time to bring those pages out and read them. We read through a lot of food diaries, and there are a few standard things people tend to do with their eating that need sorting out. Here, we list some of these common bad food habits and mistakes. It's up to you to compare your food diary to these and see whether you're making any of them.

    "After only five days of eliminating sugar your body stops craving it almost entirely, so suffer through those first few days, and you'll be a new person."

    Bad Food Habit #1: Too many Sugary Treats!

    Jam on your toast, a muffin for morning tea, lollies or soft drink post-lunch, choccy after dinner, a teaspoon of sweetener in your tea… phew, that's a lot of immune crushing, nutrient-leaching, wrinkle creating SUGAR! This addictive little beastie is your body's worst enemy. Recent studies show that at least 40% of the sugar we put in our bodies is immediately stored as fat. Therefore, lay off the white stuff to see immediate results. The good news? After only five days of eliminating sugar your body stops craving it almost entirely, so suffer through those first few days, and you'll be a new person.


    Bad Food Habit #2: Barely Eating During The Day But Eating A Lot In The Evening

    Barely eating during the day and eating a lot in the evening is one of the biggest mistakes you can make. Our metabolism is fired up during the day, ready to help with energy needs. The body needs to transport more energy to muscles and organs during the day when they are needed more, however at night the metabolism lowers and this energy is stored instead (yep, you guessed it, as fat). Eating this way will also make sleep more robust for you because your body has to work to digest food as you're resting. So if either weight loss, or better sleep and more energy are essential to you, it's best to eat during the day and restrict eating a few hours (ideally 2-3) before going to bed.


    Bad Food Habit #3: Hidden Sugar Consumption

    Usually, when someone thinks of consuming sugar, they think of adding sugar to coffee, drinking soda, or eating lollies and chocolate. However, avoidable sugar is in a lot of other everyday items, such as gum, sauces (like tomato sauce and sweet chilli sauce), jams, salad dressing, fruit juices, cereal, energy and breakfast bars, low-fat milk, packaged foods, dried fruit, 'health' treats and so much more. If your food diary contains any of these items or other packaged foods with more than one ingredient, make sure you check the sugar content. As a guide, if per 100g an item has 15g or more of sugar, that's pretty high. If it contains around 10g, that's not too bad. If it has less than 5g, that's pretty great!


    Bad Food Habit #4: Over-Eating "Diet" or "Low Fat" Foods, including Skim Milk/Yoghurts

    Just because a product is meant for dieting or has the words "diet" or "low fat" on the label, doesn't mean it's a great food to eat, or that over-consumption of it is OK. Remember, these are still packaged, fake foods and are not likely to have much nutrition. Neither are they likely to truly satisfy you. Research shows that if a product is advertised as "low calorie", "diet", or "low fat", consumers are likely to eat up to three times as much as they would the regular version. If you enjoy these things occasionally, great, but if your food diary lists low fat/diet foods regularly, kick them to the curb. The full-fat version is better for you and won't leave you craving more.


    Bad Food Habit #5: Consuming Too Much Artificial Sweetener

    OK so Coke's off limits, but your daily Coke Zero is OK, right? It has no calories, and it sorts out that post-lunch sugar craving, so you figure it must be a better option than chocolate, or that sweet cup of tea? Actually, no. Artificial sweeteners can interfere with your metabolism and hormones and will only fuel your carb cravings. Recent studies have found that artificial sweeteners can lead to weight gain! So put that nasty sugar-free treat down and if you're looking for a sweet drink, grab a freshly squeezed veggie juice with beetroot, which is a sweet veggie and also helps with liver detoxification.


    Bad Food Habit #6: You Skip Breakfast

    You'd think that bypassing breakfast would be a quick and easy way to shave some extra calories. But unfortunately, by skipping this important meal, you're more likely to consume those calories (and more) later in the day. Even if you don't, skipping breakfast prompts your body to store fat rather than metabolise it because right when your body is most hungry, and in need of fuel, you're telling it that it can't have it, so immediately your metabolism slows down to make sure it's not wasting energy that it might need later. Research shows that despite breakfast eaters consuming more calories than their breakfast-skipping friends, they're also slimmer, more active and have healthier diets overall. So if you're not putting anything in your stomach first thing (and coffee definitely doesn't count as a meal, by the way!), make sure you change this habit and try to get something into your stomach within an hour or so of waking – this can boost your metabolism by as much as 10 percent! Make sure you include protein and fibre. If you're pressed for time, something light will do; try full-fat, plain yoghurt with nuts and berries, a veggie omelette, or a healthy smoothie with protein (nuts, eggs or a good quality protein powder), fruit and coconut or almond milk.


    Bad Food Habit #7: You Drink Extra Calories

    When we eat a big meal, our body knows it's being fed, and we eat less at the next meal. But that doesn't happen when we drink high-calorie beverages, which are estimated to add about 235 extra (empty) calories a day to our diets, at a bare minimum! Our bodies don't seem to register liquid calories the way they do solid calories. So even after guzzling a jumbo-size soda at the movies, we don't eat less when it's time to eat again. coffee, fruit drinks, sodas, energy drinks and alcohol are some of the biggest calorie traps. Alcohol is actually doubly so because drinking relaxes our willpower. Have a few cocktails and suddenly having that slice of cheesecake seems like a pretty good idea. If you must have coffee, drink it black with a dash of honey. Really can't give up soft drink? Instead of your afternoon coke, choose soda water and add just a bit of fruit juice for all the fizz and less of the nasties. Love alcohol? Choose red wine and sip on one glass (slowly) all night, sipping on water in between mouthfuls.


    Bad Food Habit #8: You Don't Eat The Right Snacks

    Snacks get a bad rap because we think of them as junky foods we shouldn't eat. But nutritious snacks like the Chief Collagen Bars are great because eating frequently can help you to consume fewer calories and keep your metabolism ticking. Fruit, sliced veggies like radishes, carrots, capsicum and celery, nuts, hummus, a small tin of tuna or salmon, veggie-packed rice paper rolls, boiled eggs, chickpeas with salsa, plain yoghurt or cottage cheese with berries, even a square or two of dark chocolate are all excellent options. Our tip? Every day, pack lots of healthy snacks in small containers or bags and keep them in your handbag, or desk drawer for easy access when the munchies hit!


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    Bad Food Habit #9: You Don't Drink Enough Water

    If your food diary didn't feature at least 1.5L of water each day (and ideally more than 2L), it's likely your body is super dehydrated, leading to poor performance, less mental clarity and mixed appetite signals, let alone tired skin. The next time you feel hungry, try taking a big, long drink of water and you may even find that's all your body was craving. The hormones in our intestines, which tell us we're hungry, are very similar to the hormones that let us know we're thirsty, so humans are not very good at distinguishing hunger from thirst. This is why we typically reach for food when we should be drinking up instead – hunger pangs can sometimes be your body screaming for a little extra H2O. Also, when we're not well hydrated, our metabolism drags because water is a crucial part of the calorie burning process, as well as the detoxification process. So you'll burn more calories and feel fresher too!


    Bad Food Habit #10: You Train Hard, You Eat Well… Then You Party Hard!

    If you justify binge drinking as the reward for a well behaved week, you're not doing yourself any favours. No matter how much you train, or how well you eat, the guidelines are clear: any health benefits from alcohol are reaped from one to two standard drinks per day, with a few alcohol-free days per week. Remember that a standard drink consists of only 100ml of wine (and a standard glass holds at least 200- 250ml) and that consuming five or more standard drinks in one night is considered binge drinking for a woman. How does this affect your weight loss journey? Well, Your body won't burn anything else as fuel while alcohol is in your system, so anything you eat while you're drinking is likely to be stored as fat, as is all the sugar in the drinks you're consuming. Not only that, drinking more than the recommended amount of alcohol can mess with your hormone profile, decrease your uptake of nutrients and encourage your body to convert testosterone to oestrogen, leading to fat storage on the hips and thighs. It can also hinder sleep, which leads to lower production of the hormones that burn fat. Convinced yet?


    Bad Food Habit #11: You Don't Eat fat

    You believe fat will make you fat, so you shun it in every form, and it barely made an appearance in your food diary. Science and countless studies have proven that good fats are our friend, but many people still see it as public enemy number one in their battle to stay lean. Good fats lower cholesterol, aid vitamin absorption, assist digestion, boost your immune system, help to shift stubborn fat from the body and regulate the metabolism. And since the body will start to call on fat once its carbohydrate stores are empty, dietary fat is of particular importance to severe athletes such as yourselves! Know the difference between the fats that are right for you (monounsaturated, polyunsaturated, and omega-3s, as well as some saturated fats from lean, organic meat sources) and the ones that can harm your health (some saturated and all trans fats). Include good fats by adding them to the naturally low-fat foods you already eat - use olive oil on top of your salad greens, eat avocado with mustard as a snack, smear almond or other nut butter on apples or celery stalks, and stir-fry your veggies in rapeseed oil and eat oily fish. Note that some oils turn into trans fat when you cook with them (e.g. olive oil) so best to add them after you cook or use oils like grapeseed or coconut oil.


    Bad Food Habit #12: You Deprive Yourself Of Calories

    Depriving your body of the fuel it needs to carry on its regular daily business, as well as the added calories it needs to perform physical activity, forces your body into a state of cannibalism, where it is breaking down muscle for fuel. This is obviously not good in the long term for your health, or athletic performance but it's also not suitable for weight management, as it puts your body in 'store and save' mode, so as soon as you increase your calorie intake again, you'll score a lot more than you'd like to! Our advice? Don't count calories; just make healthier food choices. Anything nutritionally dense is your friend, so eat as many veggies, lean proteins, antioxidant-rich superfoods and good fats as you like, plus a variety of fruit. As a little guide, no active woman should eat fewer than 1,500 calories a day, and a busy man should not take in less than 1,800 calories a day. Your (female) trainers usually eat between 1,800-2,500 calories a day, so don't be too worried about the numbers. DO make sure that most of your calories come from high-quality foods that are nutritionally powerful. Don't think of food as calories, think of it as fuel.


    Bad Food Habit #13: Lack of Protein

    When we crave foods, we always seem to crave carbohydrate-rich foods, rather than their high protein counterparts but if you want to be successful with weight loss, you must take in enough protein. Protein is the nutrient that is going to help maintain your lean body mass and keep your metabolism humming along. Great sources of protein are fish, beef, lamb, chicken or turkey breast, eggs, nuts, as well as some organic dairy products like full-fat yoghurt, or cottage cheese.





    Bad Food Habit #14: Drinking & Eating Soy Products

    Most soy products (milk and tofu in particular) are highly processed, very oestrogenic and when consumed in moderate-to-high doses can lead to fat storage on the thighs, hips and butt for women who have not yet gone through menopause. For men, it can lead to 'man boobs'... no thanks! Unprocessed and fermented soy products such as tempeh, miso and edamame are A-OK but if your food diary contains loads of soy milk, tofu, soy yoghurts, etc. Ditch them to see an effect on your body composition!


    Bad Food Habit #15: Eating Bread, Pasta & Other Starches Daily

    Refined starches should be treats only, so if your food diary consists of daily bread, pasta, or other refined starches, you're likely storing most of it! Whole grains like oats, amaranth, quinoa, millet, barley and brown rice are great as a 'sometimes foods', or post-workout energy sources. Nevertheless, if you're eating them at lunch before sitting down for an afternoon at your desk, or munching on a big bowl of cereal before heading off to a sedentary day at work, you're not doing your body any favours. Unless weight gain is your goal, replace grains with lots of veggies, lean proteins and good fats where you can. So: salad over a sandwich, eggs over cereal, nuts over biscuits, etc.


    Bad Food Habit #16: Not Eating Your Vegetables

    If you're not eating veggies with at least 3 out of your 4-5 meals per day, you're in trouble! Make sure you're getting a variety of colourful veg in every single day. We mean it! If you feel like you're struggling here, head to and order the fruit/veg wholefood capsules. Amazing, we would never be without them!


    Bad Food Habit #17: Overeating dairy

    We get it, cheese tastes great, and mum always told you to drink your milk, but the reality is that most people can't digest many dairy foods properly, leading to poor nutrient absorption, bloating and weight gain. Lay off the milk and choose yoghurt instead, as it's pre-fermented and easier on your digestive system. Plus, it's a probiotic, which is a bonus. Choose goat or sheep cheeses over cow milk versions and keep your portions down.


    Remember if you're trying to lose weight your goal should be to reach a healthy, comfortable size and maintain it, not drastic weight loss. This requires systematic lifestyle changes, so make sure you apply your newfound knowledge not just now, but ongoing.


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