These Common Eating Habits Could Make You Die Young

We all know that establishing good eating habits is vital for good health, and many people make a reasonable attempt to do so. And while we all have our vices when it comes to food, some of the most seemingly harmless eating habits can actually affect your longevity.

Nobody is perfect, of course, and trying to eat well 100% of the time is no way to live. However, if you’re guilty of too many of these common eating habits, you may want to make a few changes.

A love of red meat

Buyer woman chooses chopped meat in a shop

Hamburger | sergeyryzhov/Getty Images

It’s tough to turn down a delicious cheeseburger or steak now and then. But diets heavy in red meat are linked to early death, especially when combined with other unhealthy habits. Your best bet is to treat red meat as an occasional treat rather than a diet staple.

Next: In this case, there is such a thing as too much of a good thing.

Too many refined grains

farmer's hands full of grain

Grains | iStock.com/Nastco

Grains aren’t unhealthy — in fact, they’re recommended as part of a balanced diet. But unlike whole grains, which contain the entire grain kernel, refined grains like pasta, white rice, and white bread, have been processed and are devoid of most nutrients. Stick to whole grains as often as possible.

Next: Do not avoid these sweet natural treats.

Not enough fruit

Exotic fruit

Fruits | firina/iStock/Getty Images

If you avoid eating fruit because of the sugar or carbohydrate content, beware: Fruits are rich in many essential nutrients that are often under-consumed, like potassium and folic acid. Eating a cup or two of fruit every day can lengthen your life span.

Next: You probably see this one coming…

Not enough vegetables

Roasted Vegetables

Roasted veggies | Magone/iStock/Getty Images

“Eat your vegetables” is more than good advice from your parents. Much like eating fruit, consuming vegetables daily can lead to a long, healthy life. And if you never eat them, you’re cheating yourself of quality years. Try to eat five servings of produce every day.

Next: It’s time to kick that soda habit for good.

A love of sugary beverages

Pepsi, Coca Cola And Fanta

Sodas | Radu Bercan/iStock/Getty Images

Here’s a startling statistic: For people aged 25 to 64, sodas and other sugary beverages were associated with more early deaths than any other dietary factor. And not only can excessive soda consumption send you to an early grave, you’re at an increased risk of stroke and dementia if you drink it regularly. Replace your sugary drink habit with water, tea, or seltzer water.

Next: Just say no to the bread and butter at dinner.

Eating solid fats

Margarine

Butter | YelenaYemchuk/istock/Getty Images

According to Livestrong, the habit of eating too many solid fats like beef fat, butter, and shortening caused 2.3% of diet-related deaths by stroke, heart disease, and Type 2 diabetes. Solid fats contain saturated fats and trans fats, both of which are terrible for you when you consume too much of them. Try to replace them with heart-healthy oils like avocado or olive oil when you can.

Next: Eating too much of these meats is a death sentence.

Too much processed meat

Processed meats are displayed in a grocery store

Processed meats in the grocery store | Joe Raedle/Getty Images

A diet rich in processed meats has been linked to early death for years. The preservatives and nitrates in bacon, hot dogs, sausage, and cold cuts are disastrous for your health. Eat them sparingly.

Next: Fish is fantastic.

Not enough seafood

Shellfish

Seafood | Lisovskaya/Getty Images

Do you avoid eating seafood? You may want to reconsider — according to Livestrong, MyPlate.gov recommends eating 5 1/2 ounces of seafood daily. Of course, it’s unrealistic (and expensive) to try and eat fish every day, so if you have salmon, trout, anchovies, or other low mercury seafood a few times a week, you’ll reap the omega-3 fatty acid and protein benefits.

Next: Go nuts.

Avoiding nuts and seeds

Keep some healthy nuts nearby to control hunger.

Bowl of nuts | Amarita/iStock/Getty Images Plus

If you don’t like nuts or seeds, you may want to work them into your diet, at least occasionally. They’re loaded with fiber, magnesium and polyunsaturated fats, and eating a handful of nuts a day can cut your risk of heart disease by 30%.

Next: Too much of this stuff can wreak havoc on your blood pressure.

Eating too much sodium

Stack of natural salty snack made of peanuts for toddlers

Snacks | RoniMeshulamAbramovitz/iStock/Getty Images

Everyone loves a salty snack, but according to Livestrong, the leading cause of diet-related cardiometabolic death in 2012 was high sodium. The American Heart Association recommends limiting your daily intake to 1,500 milligrams. Avoiding processed foods, frozen dinners, and packaged snacks will help.

Next: Listen to your body’s cues.

Snacking when you’re not hungry

Multiple chips brand

Assortment of snacks | JaysonPhotography/iStock/Getty Images

Are you guilty of mindless munching? Ignoring your body’s natural hunger signs can lead to chronic overeating, which can eventually kill you. Find a healthier way to alleviate your boredom.

Next: Step away from your desk.

Eating at your desk

Casual businessman eating a sandwich in front of the computer

Man eating lunch at work | Wavebreakmedia/iStock/Getty Images

If you have a desk job, you know it can be tough to get away, even for a quick lunch. But eating at your desk causes you to be even more sedentary, which will slowly kill you. Step away from work to eat lunch, and try to get in a quick walk before or after your meal.

Next: They call it the most important meal of the day for a reason.

Regularly skipping breakfast

Porridge from oatmeal

Oatmeal with fruits and nuts | ArtCookStudio/iStock/Getty Images

Starting your day with a healthy breakfast, even something small, sets you up for an entire day of success. Regularly skipping breakfast can mess with your energy and blood sugar, and it can lead to some serious weight gain. If you’re short on time, prep your food the night before or grab a yogurt and a piece of fruit on your way out the door.

Next: This might be the single worst dietary habit you can have.

Too much sugar

Glazed donuts

Donuts | styxclick/iStock/Getty Images

While eating breakfast is important, it’s also important that you don’t choose a donut. It’s sad, but true: A diet high in sugar leads to a shorter life span. In fact, it increases your risk of dying from heart disease even if you aren’t overweight. You don’t have to give up treats entirely, but save them for special occasions.

Next: Stay far away from fake sugar, too.

Using artificial sweeteners

Container holding packets of artificial sweetener.

Sweetener packets | iStock.com/BigRedCurlyGuy

Think choosing diet soda or adding artificial sweeteners to your coffee is better than refined sugar? It’s not — in fact, ingesting too many artificial sweeteners is linked to early death. If you’re looking for some sweetness, try using honey, organic maple syrup, or agave syrup, and use them in moderation.

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