A decade goes by fast. In no time those bad habits that you have now can do big damage to your mind and body later on. Whether it’s skipping breakfast or eating too fast, drinking a little too much (and too often) or spending way too many hours planted in front of the TV, work on putting an end to the bad habits now, so you don’t pay for them later.
Here are 10 bad habits to quit now so you don’t feel the effects a decade (or sooner) from now.
Food is everywhere. It lures us in at the checkout counter, local coffee shop—everywhere. With all the offerings at your fingertips (and just a bite away), you can sometimes eat by impulse and not because you’re actually hungry. Snacking when you’re not hungry can cause you to skip actual meals and miss out on important nutrients and minerals throughout the day. “Snacking when not hungry doesn’t allow you to practice listening to your body and respecting your body’s natural hunger and fullness cues,” says Willow Jarosh, M.S., R.D., C.D.N., nutrition specialist, C & J Nutrition. “Learning to listen to these cues from your body on when to eat and when to stop is vital to reaching and maintain a healthy weight...and happy relationship with food.”
This one is simple. Smoking increases your risk of heart disease (which accounts for 35 to 40% of all smoking-related deaths), emphysema, cancer, stroke, asthma, lung infections, and dementia. “If you don't smoke, don't start,” says Jo-Ann Heslin, registered dietician and author of the Pocket Books. “If you do smoke, try to quit.” A study, conducted by Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece, found that over time, smoking can even dull taste buds—not a good move when trying to eat healthy. “[Smoking] can make it much more difficult to enjoy the natural flavors of fruits and veggies without loads of salt and sugar,” says Jarosh.
Moderation is the key when it comes to alcohol. “The question isn't, Do you drink?” says Heslin. “It's how much?” The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that one in 10 deaths among adults, ages 20 to 64 (between 2006 and 2010) were attributed to excessive drinking, according to a recent study on whether short-term (car and other accidents) or long-term health issues are brought on by excess alcohol consumption. Heslin says that one to two drinks a day can reduce your risk for heart disease by raising HDL (good) cholesterol, while three or more drinks a day may increase the risk for high blood pressure and heart disease; over time, drinking in excess can also lead to liver disease. Aside from the health risks, alcohol contains calories and enhances your appetite and will make you eat more.
The habit of using your teeth to cut your nails, whether due to extreme nervousness, also known as onchophagia, can pass germs into the body since the hands touch nearly everything. Even if you suds up your hands several times a day or lather on antibacterial lotion, germs sneak in. Nail biting can lead to repeated colds or flu and bacterial infections. Over time, gnawing your nails can put stress on your teeth, which can lead to crooked teeth or other dental problems. It can also lead to skin infections and aggravate the nail bed. So stop chomping and grab a nail clipper instead.
Slow down. Where’s the fire? If you eat too fast, you aren’t giving your body enough time to realize that you’re full. Scarfing down your food doesn’t give your brain or gastrointestinal tract enough time to process the fact that your body is being fed. Over time, this will not only lead to overeating and weight gain, but eating too fast can also increase your likelihood for heartburn and bloating. Eat slower and you can better know how satisfied, or dissatisfied, your stomach really is. Instead of eating to eat, Heslin recommends chatting with your dinner partners. If alone, put your fork down in between bites, chew and swallow before putting more food in your mouth.
How many times have you heard, “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day”?” Well, it is. Skipping the first meal can make you crash (and eat more) later on in the day. It can also mean less energy during the day for workouts and just make concentrating harder throughout the morning. By the time lunch rolls around, you’re ravished and will eat a cow if it were in front of you—or some of those cupcakes and bagels around the office. Breakfast eaters are thinner, can process information in the morning better, and have lower blood pressure.
The average adult spends more than 20 hours a week watching TV. It’s almost a full day. This inactivity can bring down your stamina and will to stay active. “It's an activity where you burn few calories and in many cases consume lots of calories by snacking,” says Heslin. Moderate your viewing. If you watch an hour’s worth of television, get up and do something in between. Don’t just sit there!
Work stress, lack of sleep, and other health issues can make the libido drop. If you find you’re just not interested in sex anymore, visit your doctor. Stress can just be the beginning of the cause of a low libido, which can be due to an underactive thyroid, hormonal imbalance, hypertension, or other ailments, which can only get worse over time if you don’t get it checked out.
If you’re not happy in your relationship, get out. Depression can set in, which can lead to a plethora of bad habits (poor eating, lack of exercise). “Staying in an unhealthy relationship keeps you from your full potential because it metaphorically brings you down,” says Lawrence Biscontini, a mindful movement specialist based in Greece. “What you tolerate, you accept, and tolerating a relationship that is below your standards, even unconsciously, means you are accepting standards that fall below what you seek.”
No sleep can lead to many more bad habits over the years. Sleep deprivation comes in all forms and can lead to depression, low libido, weight gain, and more. The CDC reported that 35% of adults get less than seven hours of sleep on average, and 38% have even dropped off to sleep during the day at least once in the past month. Chronic sleep disorders, or lack of sleep, can lead to diabetes, stroke, heart disease, heart failure, irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure, and more throughout time. Getting little sleep also impairs your cognitive processes and can impact your alertness, concentration, reasoning, and problem solving. It can also kill your sex drive or any desire to work out, as well as age you. Yes, lack of sleep can lead to fine lines, dark circles under the eyes, and overall lackluster skin, so close your eyes and snooze a bit longer each day.