When it comes time for dinner and you've decided to make something yourself, you're clearly already committed to whipping up a hearty, yet healthy meal. You want something that not only tastes great but fills you up, too. While making your own dinner is an easy way to guarantee you're not sabotaging your own weight-loss goals as you are the one in charge of the meal, there are still some things you might be doing that aren't ideal. That's right, your dinner habits are just disastrous.
So in order to help you out, we've rounded up the worst dinner habits you most likely have that are just going to end up ruining your night. You put in all that work to stay on course throughout the day, you don't want to let some bad choices mess with your progress! And if you're trying to not only end your day right, but start if off the right way too, be sure to check out What Happens to Your Body When You Drink a Smoothie Every Day.
You're adding too much salt.
Throwing in a pinch of salt might be a way to add some flavor and help get your pasta just right, but there is such thing as too much. If you get to the point that you need a lot of salt in order to up the flavor of your dish, you're headed down a dangerous road. See, you can end up gaining weight if you eat too much salt often, as researchers at Deakin University found that consuming excess salt can lead you to crave and eat more fatty foods overall.
Plus, you can end up with an actual addiction. A study in Oxford Journal's Nephrology Dialysis Transplantation found that a salt addiction is very much real and it's processed by the hypothalamus region of your brain. This is essentially how alcohol, cocaine, and opiate addictions are developed and interpreted, too. Scary stuff if you ask us!
You're choosing the wrong sauce.
If you're a fan of making a meal that has tons of tomato sauce, you're not alone. Pasta needs sauce, right? But there is a way your sauce choice can be dangerous. Many store-bought, jarred tomato-based pasta sauces are actually loaded up with sodium and added sugar, and often contain eyebrow-raising ingredients such as soybean oil and preservatives. Be sure you closely check those labels before you make a purchase next time you're in the supermarket. Or why not try making your own sauce?!
You're frying your food.
If you think frying that chicken yourself is any better than the fried version you would get at a restaurant, that is not the case. When you fry a food, according to one study, you're stripping it of important minerals. Plus, frying foods tacks on more calories and saturated fat.
You're using the wrong plate size.
When it comes to your dinner, size does matter.
Think about it: if you eat on a bigger plate, your food looks smaller, so it's much easier to overload your plate. If you eat on a smaller plate though, the food serving seems to be larger, as the food is filling up the entire plate, which tricks your mind into thinking you're about to eat a whole lot more than you actually are. So make sure you're sticking with smaller plates to help keep your portions under control!
You're overdressing your salads.
Having a side salad along with your dinner is a great way to get your veggies in and eating it before your main course is a clever way to get you fuller faster so you'll end up eating smaller portions of your main course. A win-win! But the dressing you're lathering up your lettuce with could be problematic, along with the amount you're using. If you're not sticking to the recommended portion size and you're using a dressing that is filled with added sugar and questionable ingredients, you're making that side dish instantly unhealthy.
You're eating too fast.
It's no secret that when dinner rolls around, you're hungry and ready to eat. There's a chance you end up eating faster, which makes it harder to notice exactly how much you're eating. One study in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association actually found that slow eaters who took their time are 66 fewer calories per meal, compared to those who are a lot faster. It's best to slow things down and take your time, as you might just end up getting fuller quicker than you may think.
You're eating in front of the TV.
Chowing down on the dinner you just made in front of the TV might seem like a harmless way to unwind, but it's far from it. Eating in front of the television is essentially distracted eating and you can end up eating more when you're distracted.
A study published in the journal Food Quality and Preference found that the participants who were distracted by white noise via headphones were less aware of the sound of the food they were eating. This caused them to eat more compared to the participants who could hear the food they were eating, as they didn't have the white-noise creating headphones on.
You're not rinsing canned foods.
There is nothing wrong with adding canned vegetables and beans to your dinner. You just want to make sure you're prepping them the right way. You'll notice that canned foods are filled with a liquid. If you don't drain those veggies or beans and give them a rinse, you can end up adding unnecessary sodium and extra starches to your meal.
You're not drinking water.
It's no secret that sodas and other sweetened beverages are never an ideal drink choice. So that's why it's important to sip on water not only alongside your meal but before it, too. One study found that drinking water half an hour before eating a main meal such as dinner helps with weight loss. Who knew a little H2O could do so much good?!
You're not eating at the right time.
Yes, it does matter when you eat dinner. If you end up working late and eating dinner late, there's a good chance you're going to crash and fall asleep not too long after with your belly full. That's not the best move!
"The goal is to finish eating dinner, and any dessert, at least 2-3 hours before bed," Sydney Greene, MS, RD told us in a previous article. "Research shows that those who go 2-3 hours without eating before bed have a decreased cancer risk, insulin resistance, and inflammation."
Overall, it's much healthier for you to eat dinner at an earlier time and not that close to when you're heading off to sleep. If you really want to make sure you're staying healthy all day long, you'll want to avoid these bad breakfast habits that are ruining your day.