NZ dietitian, performance nutritionist and health expert. Dave does his best to make sense of what we eat.

Dave Shaw: Five biggest health blunders

What are our worst eating habits? Bingeing on fast food, guzzling too much soft drink and adopting fad diets are among them. But health expert Dave Shaw shares some you may not have considered.
What are some of the worst eating habits that New Zealanders need to kick? Photo / Thinkstock
What are some of the worst eating habits that New Zealanders need to kick? Photo / Thinkstock

1. Binge drinking culture
One drink often turns into two, which turns into a bottle or a box. We've all done it before, either succeeding with a primal chant or failing with unexpected consequences. University life, weekend nights, celebrations and social acceptance are all encouraging. Fun, well yes, but dangerous also. Why is it that the French can drink with sophisticated elegance - a glass of red wine with dinner or a bottle for a group to share - yet many New Zealanders' turn a drunken-eye to such common-sense drinking?

Kiwis need to stop the binge drinking culture. Photo / Thinkstock

2. Eating alone-together
A hundred years ago it would have been absurd to eat a completely different meal than the person dining next to you. Breakfast, lunch and dinner used to be dished from the same pot - a pleasurable experience shared by the whole family.

But now, food preferences, diets and restrictive eating patterns prevent this shared eating. Although it may seem like we're eating together, in reality, we're all dining alone. Many of us have lost sight of the social connectedness sharing a meal can offer.

3. Mindless eating
Can you recall all the meals you ate yesterday? Possibly yes, but not with accuracy. Life in the fast lane is ruining our sense of mindful eating. Distraction, rushing, guilt and greed are becoming far more common at every eating event, leading to regular indulgence and expanding waists. We must slow down and give ourselves time to chew through a meal. By savouring the food on your plate you won't need to eat nearly as much as you normally would to feel the satisfaction and enjoyment you desire.

Beware of mindless eating. Photo / Thinkstock

4. An office full of treats
A toxic environment will eventually undermine your good intentions, no matter how strong your willpower. Creating a healthy haven at home by stocking your pantry and fridge with nutritious, delicious food is the easy part. But working and socialising in spaces full of unexpected treats and free lunches is a trap. Plenty of places are saturated with unhealthy vending machines and charity boxes. Even the weekly birthday cake and Friday night drinks can become disastrous. Plan, prepare and have the power to say 'no'.

Treats at work can be dangerous for your health. Photo / Thinkstock

5. Kids too concerned
More children are getting caught up in the adult's game of stigmatising foods and restricting what they eat based on what they believe to be healthy. Yes, there is a case to eradicate some kids food. But a warped or extreme perception of what healthy eating means at such a young age can lead to future eating disorders.

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NZ dietitian, performance nutritionist and health expert. Dave does his best to make sense of what we eat.

Dave works in public health and alongside some of New Zealand’s top athletes. Whether it's for vitality, performance, identity or spirituality, Dave loves the way food brings people together. He believes that no one diet is the cure for our growing rates of chronic disease, but a diet based on wholefoods is the perfect start. Always keeping up-to-date with current evidence and food trends, Dave is a relentless researcher for how we should eat and likes to challenge what we may think about nutrition.

Read more by Dave Shaw

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