Breaking news! The eating habits you should avoid after you turn 30 years old are the same poor eating styles that you made habitual during those formative years, ages 11 through 22. You likely know them—too many drive-thru dinners, drinking 20-ounce sodas, inhaling bags of Doritos, eating pizza for breakfast. The problem is that, at age 30 and beyond, your body, your cells, your metabolism, and heck, your whole life is different.
“As a kid, you were burning off all that extra energy you were consuming; as an adult, you’re probably a lot less physically active, responsible for doing so much more, and dealing with many more life stressors,” says Johna Burdeos, RD and blogger. “Because of all that, your diet plays a much bigger role in your health; you need to wake up to what you should have been paying attention to all along.”
Burdeos doesn’t mind ringing alarm bells in your ears if it’ll help you adopt a healthier lifestyle. After all, she sees the results of a lifetime of poor eating habits every day in her job as a nutritionist working with very sick, long-term acute care patients.
“The public health messaging is everywhere,” she says. “How diet impacts the body is no secret. A lot of people have to be diagnosed with a life-threatening disease like diabetes to get the picture and start making change.”
We’re sure you’d prefer prevention to treatment so here are six eating habits to avoid by midlife to help you live a longer, healthier life.
“I’m human—I like my treats,” admits Burdeos. “An occasional piece of pie isn’t going to give you diabetes.”
But a slice of pie here, a sleeve of Girl Scout cookies there, and an every-afternoon chocolate bar pick-me-up, just might send your blood sugar into the prediabetes zone.
Look for the patterns 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 a notepad.
“Within two days, you’ll notice eating habits you’ll want to begin to break from,” she says.
“One thing I don’t ever budge on is sugar-sweetened beverages,” says Burdeos. “Clients will try to compromise that, but I don’t budge because big studies, meta-analyses show a strong association between soda and other sugary drinks and weight gain and increased risk of disease.”
Start weaning yourself off the sweet stuff gradually. Drink water. You don’t need the extra calories from SSBs, she says.
Need more motivation? Check out What Happens to Your Body When You Drink Soda.
There’s a term for this: eating mindlessly. It’s what happens when you are binge-watching Netflix, and you don’t realize you ate the whole pint of ice cream until episode three. We often get into the habit of mindlessly eating when we’re under stress.
“Looking to food for coping and comforting is a common habit that leads to overeating,” says Burdeos.
The solution is recognizing when you are stressed and choosing to be present and aware.