17 Eating Habits That Lead to Weight Gain

Sometimes it’s not about the food; it’s about your behavior around food.

Posted May 15, 2019

John Hain/Pixabay, Used With Permission
Think before you eat.
Source: John Hain/Pixabay, Used With Permission

There are as many different ways to overeat as there are reasons for overeating. And when it comes to eating style, we all have our individual differences and downfalls. 

Your eating style isn't the same thing as your food choices. Your eating style reflects the habits you've developed over time, such as when you eat, how much you eat, where you eat, and how fast you eat.

Like your actual diet, the eating habits you've formed over time may stem from conscious choices on your part, or they may be a result of your family culture or environment. Go over this checklist of eating behaviors to see if you might benefit from modifying some of your food habits.

  • Eating a lot of high-cal or high-fat foods. If you grew up eating overly fatty or caloric foods and you’re still eating them, it’s become a habit. Even if you make healthy food and ingredient choices, like olive oil, almonds, or avocados, you can still eat too much of a good thing.
  • Grazing. It may work for some people who eat small amounts of foods, or “mini-meals” throughout the day, but eating all day, rather than the usual three times a day, doesn’t work for most people who are struggling with weight gain. That’s because it’s hard to keep track of the types and amounts of food you eat. Better to work within the structure of three regular meals a day, eaten at the same time every day, and spaced three to five hours apart. If it’s closer to five hours between meals, you may need a small (planned) snack to tide you over.
  • Eating in front of your computer or television. When you participate in another activity while eating, you’re not paying full attention to how much you’re eating.
  • Mindless eating. If you don’t stop and pay attention to what you’re eating, you may be mindlessly shoveling food into your mouth throughout the day without realizing how much you are eating.
  • Overeating at every meal. It’s important to stick to standard servings sizes so that your meals are balanced and within a normal calorie range.
  • Snacking. If you only snack on plain fruits and vegetables, you’re not likely to gain weight. But if you’re like most people, you’re snacking on junk foods and fast foods that contribute little more to your diet than a lot of extra calories.
  • Random eating. Whenever you can, sitting down to regularly scheduled meals and snacks is both physically and mentally healthier for you simply grabbing food wherever and whenever you can.
  • Eating quickly. The faster you eat, the more likely you’ll overeat. That’s because your brain and stomach communicate with each other, signaling hunger so you know you need to eat, and signaling fullness so you know it’s time to stop. It takes about 20 minutes after you eat for your brain to get the signal that your stomach is full. When you eat quickly, you pack in a lot of food before that signal gets through.
  • Eating on the run. When you grab food to go, you’re likely to grab whatever is most convenient and you’re not likely to pay attention to how much you’re eating. You’re also more likely to forget that you ate at all and not factor food-on-the-go into your overall eating plan.
  • Frequently eating out. The only problem here is that you don’t have much control over how your food is prepared and there are often too many high-cal temptations on the menu. If you can control the amount of food you eat, and eat smaller portions of food you know is high in calories and fat, you probably won’t have a problem.
  • Eating too much of the same types of food. A diet that consists of too many foods from a particular food group, such as carbs, can lack nutritional and caloric balance.
  • Eating too much junk food. If your main meals routinely come from a fast food restaurant, convenience store, or your supermarket’s prepared food section, and your snacks usually consist of doughnuts or chips, you’re probably taking in a lot more calories, sugar and fat than you realize.
  • Constantly dieting. Depriving yourself of enough food generally leads to overeating and sometimes bingeing. 
  • Skipping meals. If you wait longer than three to five hours before eating, you’re likely to overeat when you sit down to your next meal. You’re also more likely to grab the first easily available food you see, which may not be the healthiest choice.
  • Emotional eating. Eating in response to how you’re feeling (stressed, frustrated, angry or even happy), usually has nothing to do with real hunger. Unless it’s mealtime or scheduled snack time, think about your reason for eating and if it’s really necessary.
  • Overeating on weekends. If you’re trying to lose weight, or maintain a healthy weight, you won’t get anywhere by eating a nutritious diet during the week and then blowing it with excessive eating and drinking on weekends. As with any other eating pattern, once in a while, okay. Consistently, you’re definitely tempting fate.
  • Choosing all-you-can-eat and buffet-style restaurants. Enough said.