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Are Your Bad Habits Killing You?

Posted in General Health 19 Mar, 2015

The saying 'old habits die hard' is rather apt when it comes to acknowledging the effect our choices have on our health and wellbeing. Many of us may want to make healthier decisions but often find ourselves struggling for time while we juggle a family, career and more.

We may even fool ourselves into thinking that what we're doing isn't so bad, or that we can 'make up for it' later on. For example, after a week of partying and staying up all night we think we can then sleep it off in a day. However, it's not as easy as it looks and 'one-offs' can become daily bad habits if we're not careful.

Here are some common bad habits and the ways in which they affect our health.

Missing meals on a regular basis

You're not feeling hungry and you don't have time to prepare something healthy due to your busy schedule, so you decide to skip lunch. This will help you to lose weight, right? Wrong! This is the worst thing you can do if you want to maintain a healthy weight.

Skipping meals causes blood sugar levels to drop dramatically. Your body thinks you are being starved and goes into panic mode, slowing your metabolism. This means that when you do eat, the food doesn't break down as quickly and is stored as fat instead.

Drinking coffee to stay alert

Caffeine may seem like the perfect pick-me-up when you're feeling stressed or tired, but this stimulant has plenty of negative effects when consumed in excess, especially on the central nervous system.

Unpleasant side effects include headaches, irritability, confusion, rapid heartbeat, muscle aches, increased blood pressure and nausea. Try drinking chamomile tea to relax instead and if you want to stay awake, perform some stretching exercises or go for a walk.

Going to bed too late

Not only does fatigue affect your productivity the next day, it may also contribute to various health problems. This includes putting you at increased risk of heart attack, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, stroke and diabetes. A lack of sleep can contribute to depression and anxiety by making you feel mentally 'foggy' with fewer resources for coping with the stresses of life. Furthermore, when we sleep, growth hormones are released and this contributes to normal tissue repair that can increase muscle mass and thicken skin amongst other benefits.

Snacking even when you're not hungry

Overeating is easy to do when you're not conscious of what you're doing. Many of us eat in front of the TV these days, which distracts us from thinking about what we're putting in our mouths.

Using food as comfort or reward can lead us to crave foods even when we're not hungry, potentially leading to weight gain and serious health problems such as diabetes or heart disease. This is especially true if you're snacking on junk foods all the time. Some simple tips to avoid this include not eating late at night and paying closer attention to your hunger cravings, remembering to stop eating when you are full.

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