10 habits you’ll pay for in 10 years

Quit these behaviors now so you don’t feel the effects in a decade (or sooner).
© 2013 Weider Publications // © 2013 Weider Publications

A decade goes by fast. In no time, your bad habits can do big damage to your mind and body. 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.

More: 5 healthy habits to live fat-free

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Snacking when you’re not hungry

Food 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 a happy relationship with food.”

More: 20 new healthy snacks under 200 calories

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Smoking

This one is simple. Smoking increases your risk of heart disease (which accounts for 35 to 40 percent 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.

More: The five best quit-smoking apps

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Drinking

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.

More: How to eat to avoid a hangover

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Nail biting

The habit of using your teeth to cut your nails 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.

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Eating too fast

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. Heslin recommends chatting with your dinner partners at mealtime. If alone, put your fork down in between bites, chew and swallow before putting more food in your mouth.

More: 8 foods that will never make you fat

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Skipping breakfast

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 make concentrating harder throughout the morning. By the time lunch rolls around, you’re ravished. Breakfast eaters are thinner, can better process information in the morning, and have lower blood pressure.

More: Best breakfasts for weight loss

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Too much TV

The average adult spends more than 20 hours a week watching TV. That’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!

More: The TV workout

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Ignoring sex

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 be just the beginning of the cause of low libido, which can be due to an underactive thyroid, hormonal imbalance, hypertension or other ailments, and can get worse over time if you don’t get it checked out.

More: 7 must-have talks for a healthy sex life

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Unhealthy relationship

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.”

More: 10 signs she's not worth your time

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