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| by Fayrouz Youssef

Confessions of a Fast Food Junkie!

Only two years ago I was a fast food junkie, and I had the sweetest tooth that a person could have. I had to have anything sweet on a daily basis. Chocolates, cupcakes, chocolate cakes, chocolate spread, candy, sweet treats, you name it, I had it. The worst part was I couldn’t control the portion of anything I ate, I never knew when to stop. And this was my “BAD HABIT.”

(Read more from our Health & Fitness section)

Many of us feel constricted by habits, because we have been doing the same thing over and over again for years. Temptations are everywhere we go, and in Egypt of course anything can be delivered to your door step in less than 30 minutes. You crave, you order, they deliver, you indulge, you feel guilty, you crave again and its an ongoing cycle of bad habits! 

However, gaining a few kilos from a bad diet is not the worst thing that could happen to you. Your diet has a huge impact on your overall health, and being overweight is just the tip of the iceberg. You also don’t have to be overweight to be unhealthy, many chronic diseases occur in people who have “normal” weight on the scale. Learning about nutrition is the first and most important step you can do for your health.

The easiest way to break a bad habit is to introduce better habits to your diet. Think about it for a second, it took you years to get to your bad eating habits, you can’t just break them overnight. It's plain torture. Instead of changing your entire meal around, add a bowl of salad as a part of lunch and dinner, and commit to eating it or add greens to your sandwich. Introduce healthy foods before you start taking out your favorite foods that you have been eating for years. Baby steps is the best way to change your life around. It's not about quick fixes, it takes time, some effort and major planning to get over your bad habits for good.

A few steps I took to break my bad eating habits:

1. Become aware of behaviors: I focused on why I was eating those foods. Then, I decided that everything that I ate out of convenience will be stopped immediately, but the foods that I loved will be stopped gradually. So to me, junk food was out of convenience, I stopped it right away, but eating desserts had to be gradually taken out of my diet.

2. Commit: I committed to never skipping breakfast again. No excuses!

3. Move: I started working out and being more active. When you start exercising you become more aware of what you put in your mouth, because I am not going to spend an hour at the gym everyday only to end it with a cheeseburger! “People may be obese, not because they eat too much, but because they move too little.”

4. Accessibility: I created a junk food free environment in my kitchen, got rid of all the cookies, chips, ice-cream, cakes, etc. I made a rule that if I really want to eat anything “bad,” I have to leave my house and go buy it myself (so inconvenient!) “Among the strongest influences on how much we eat are the accessibility, ease, and convenience of obtaining food.” You can always follow the 90/10 rule, have 90% of the foods in your kitchen healthy, and 10% junk. Do not deprive yourself at first, it could only make it worse.

5. Plan Ahead: If I knew that I had plans later on in the day, I made sure to eat at home before going. You don’t have to be rude at social events and not eat, but you also don’t have to eat everything there. If you go on a full stomach, you will be less likely to indulge on too much food.

6. Distractions: I only ate when I was hungry. I started to listen more to my body in terms of hunger and satiety.

In order to change, you have to commit. So many changes at once can be overwhelming, so start with small time specific goals for each behavior. For example: “I’m going to take a 30 minute walk after dinner every night,” instead of “I’m going to run a marathon someday.” Practice your desired changes until they become a routine.

For more health and nutrition tips, check out Fayrouz Youssef's website ByFayrouz.com.

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Tags: Health  Health 101  Health tips  Healthy diet  Healthy food  Healthy lifestyle  Diet tips  Nutrition  Weight loss  Fayrouz youssef  Guest writers