Obesity Treatment Eating Habits

For the obese, it’s often impossible to lose weight without changing eating habits. Even if you exercise to lose weight or prevent weight gain, bad eating habits can sabotage your attempts. If you’re overweight, adopting healthy eating habits and learning how to analyze nutrition data can help you shed pounds.

Bad Eating Habits

Weight loss is as much of a mental process as it is physical. Bad habits don’t just appear overnight–they’re the product of a lifetime. Changing eating habits is often difficult, as eating patterns and attitudes towards food are deeply ingrained.

Bad eating habits include:

  • Drinking sweetened or carbonated beverages instead of water
  • Eating to comfort or reward yourself
  • Eating when upset
  • Eating without reading nutrition data or understanding what’s in a food
  • Eating without really being aware of eating
  • Favoring high-calorie, high-fat foods over fruits and vegetables
  • Over-indulging in alcohol
  • Skipping breakfast
  • Snacking or eating while watching television.

These are just a few examples of bad eating habits. Each person’s relationship with food is complex and unique.

The Best Eating Habits for You

Often the best eating habits include eating only when hungry, reducing high-calorie processed food in favor of fruits, vegetables and whole grains, and being more mindful of eating. Other examples of healthy eating habits include:

  • Avoiding second helpings
  • Eating at a table, not in front of a television or computer monitor
  • Eating breakfast every day
  • Learning to decipher when you’re full
  • Learning to identify emotional eating triggers
  • Limiting alcohol consumption to one or two drinks a day
  • Reducing portion sizes by 20 percent.

Changing Eating Habits

Trying to change a lifetime of bad eating habits all at once is a recipe for failure and frustration. Instead, make slow but steady changes over a period of time. For instance, commit to eat a piece of fruit with breakfast every morning. When this small act becomes habit, add a different goal, such as eating at a table instead of in front of the television.

When changing eating habits, make specific goals. “Losing weight” sounds like a fine goal, but for many people, it’s too vague. Instead, identify specific, flexible goals, such as eating a new vegetable once a week to try new foods, or walking for thirty minutes, four days a week.

Learn to Read Nutrition Data

Knowing how to read the nutrition facts on packaged foods is one of the best eating habits you can learn. This nutrition data includes serving sizes–many food products that people treat as single servings are actually two or three servings. (This is particularly true of bottled beverages, which can be high in sugar and calories).

When reading a product’s nutrition facts, bear in mind that nutrition data is calculated for a 2,000 daily calorie intake. If you’re trying to lose weight, you’ll most likely be aiming a for lower calorie intake, so keep this in mind when analyzing nutrition data and serving sizes.


Brown University. (2008). Obesity: Behavioral changes needed to keep the pounds off. Retrieved April 25, 2010, from http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/02/080217102150.htm.

National Heart Lung and Blood Institute. (n.d.). Guide to behavior change. Retrieved April 25, 2010, from http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/public/heart/obesity/lose_wt/behavior.htm.