Comfort eating, swearing, and spending too much time on social media are among the nation’s worst bad habits, a study has found.
A poll of 2,000 Brits revealed the average adult has three irritating behaviours, with tucking into treats and food when they’re feeling stressed or tired the most common.
Nail biting, not doing any exercise and eating fast food also feature in the top 10.
But it emerged the average adult will attempt to stop their bad habits twice a year, with six in 10 admitting they’ve never been able to quit.
Even those who do manage to give up say it took them almost five weeks of will power and perseverance to put it behind them.
Dr Meg Arroll, a psychologist on behalf of wellness brand Healthspan, who commissioned the research, said:
Changing existing habits, particularly eating habits, is complex as we develop these behaviours over a lifetime.
Food can easily be associated with comfort as high fat and sugar treats trigger our brain’s reward centre and comfort foods such as chocolate boost feel-good neurotransmitters, offering an antidepressant effect.
The study found comfort eating is the most common bad habit, followed by swearing too much, nail-biting, a lack of exercise and procrastinating.
Stressing about everything and eating fast food are also in the top 10, as well as always hitting snooze on the alarm clock and spending too long scrolling through social media.
Eating too much chocolate, tucking into crisps and watching too much TV are also common bad habits, along with bingeing on box sets and browsing smart phones while lying in bed.
Hoarding items you don’t really need, twiddling your hair and cracking knuckles also feature in the top 50.
But while four in 10 have successfully given up a bad habit, 44 per cent of those admit they’ve usually ended up going back to the old behaviour before too long.
It’s no surprise comfort eating was found to be the nation’s most common bad habit, with 27 per cent admitting food soothes them when they’re feeling anxious or unhappy.
The nation’s love of food leads to the average adult trying to lose weight four times a year following their comfort eating periods.
The research also revealed, if Brits could make one single lifestyle choice, one in five would choose to exercise more while one in 10 would opt for healthier food.
Dr Meg added:
People who want to lose weight go on highly restrictive diets which offer a quick fix of initial weight loss, but do not address the underlying reasons why people turn to food as comfort.
Only by increasing awareness of why, not just what we eat, can we then start to make the small changes needed to develop new, healthier eating habits.
The ultimate goal is to convert small changes into lasting habits.
The top ten bad habits are:
1. Comfort eating
3. Biting nails
4. Not doing exercise
6. Stressing about things
7. Nose picking
8. Eating fast food
9. Snoozing alarm
10. Spending too long scrolling through social media
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Charlie Cocksedge is a journalist at UNILAD. He graduated from the University of Manchester with an MA in Creative Writing, where he learnt how to write in the third person, before getting his NCTJ. His work has also appeared in such places as The Guardian, PN Review and the bin.