Bad Habits That Can Harm Your Health (That Most Americans Are Guilty Of)

To put it lightly, the United States isn’t exactly known for being the healthiest country around. We’re known for going big when it comes to food and other unhealthy activities, tending to put our health on the backburner. There’s a reason the obesity rate and other unhealthy conditions have been slowly climbing for the past few decades in America, and it all comes down to the habits that we’ve adopted without question. See what some of these unhealthy habits are. Are you guilty of any of them?

Eating In Front Of Screens

Picture of woman eating popcorn
JESHOOTS.COM/Unsplash
JESHOOTS.COM/Unsplash

Sadly, more often than not, people find themselves sitting in front of a screen while eating, with some people even having the television on during family dinner. While this isn’t inherently unhealthy, what it does is take your attention away from your food, leading you to not realize how much you ate.

If you’re mindlessly eating, you can end up overeating. So, power down during meals to actually enjoy your food and keep an eye on how much you’re consuming.

Eating Too Much Fast Food

Picture of fast food restaurants
David McNew/Getty Images
David McNew/Getty Images

Considering that there are 204,529 fast-food establishments in the United States as of 2021, it’s hard to blame Americans for eating it so often. But that doesn’t make it any healthier.

Americans eat more fast food than any other country in the world, with an estimated 50 million individuals eating at a fast-food restaurant each day. A study has also shown that 8 of 10 Americans eat fast food at least once a month.

Overworking Themselves

Picture of a man working
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Although some countries are the same or worse, Americans certainly have a reputation for working long hours. In 2014, it was estimated that the average full-time American employee works an average of 47 hours a week!

This is significantly more than some European countries that typically work around 35 hours a week and can legally decline to work any more. Working too much has shown to have serious emotional, mental, and physical detrimental effects on the individual.

Skipping Meals

Girl eating cereal
Tamas Pap/Unsplash
Tamas Pap/Unsplash

Because Americans are known to be “full speed ahead” kind of people, we don’t always prioritize eating in our busy lives. This leads many people to skip meals regularly, whether it be breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

Yet, there is a correlation between skipping meals and overeating at the next meal. Plus, if you skip one of the three core meals of the day, your energy levels may dip significantly throughout the day.

Excessive Food Portions

Man with burger
Nathan Figueroa / Barcroft Image / Barcroft Media via Getty Images
Nathan Figueroa / Barcroft Image / Barcroft Media via Getty Images

In most countries around the world, you can typically estimate just how much food you’re going to receive when you order a meal. However, in the United States, it’s not unusual for people’s eyes to widen when they see just how much food comes with their meal.

Portions in the United States tend to be larger overall, which means that people eat more. Furthermore, for some reason, the biggest portions always seem to come from the places with the unhealthiest food.

Insane Flavor Combinations

Picture of Oreos
ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images
ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images

If there’s one thing that there’s no lack of in the United States, it’s different flavors for drinks, candy, and other sweets. Companies know that Americans love having a variety of flavors to choose from, no matter how absurd they might sound, so they release new products often.

The main issue is that most of the products with all of these flavor options tend to be unhealthy such as birthday cake-flavored Oreos, Mountain Dew Major Melon, and more.

Deep-Fried Everything

Picture of a sign
Elizabeth W. Kearly/Getty Images
Elizabeth W. Kearly/Getty Images

If it’s possible to be deep-fried, somewhere in the United States, there’s a booth at a state fair frying it up for their hungry customers. Although there’s a time and place for fried food worldwide, the United States takes things to a whole new level, and it’s not just chicken.

Americans love their fried cookies, candy, and whatever else they can think of to make the most unhealthy dish possible. Why do we do it? Because we can.

Driving Everywhere

Picture of traffic
Mark Wilson/Getty Images
Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Although many cities in the United States are designed around cars and not pedestrians (which is a problem on its own), many Americans still drive almost everywhere they are going. In the US, it’s rare to see someone riding their bike or walking to where they are going, even if the distance is incredibly close.

Driving everywhere means that you’re stationary, whereas walking or biking is not only good for the environment but for your body too!

Skipping On Water

man drinking water
Nigel Msipa/Unsplash
Nigel Msipa/Unsplash

For many Americans, having something to drink doesn’t usually mean water but either coffee, soda, tea, or some other kind of beverage. Drinking water is necessary for almost every bodily function, and unfortunately, many people forget to do so throughout the day.

Not staying hydrated has countless repercussions, with a few of the immediate ones being fatigue, headaches, brain fog, and more. So, make sure you’re drinking the recommended amount of water for your weight every day. Your body will thank you.

Free Refills and Oversized Cups of Sugary Drinks

Picture of soda
Illustration by Mario Tama/Getty Images
Illustration by Mario Tama/Getty Images

Americans certainly love and take full advantage of the free refills offered at many establishments. Of course, this isn’t very healthy when considering many of the only drinks offered are sugary lemonade and soda.

Because free refills are offered, it isn’t unusual for individuals to drink far more of an unhealthy beverage than they need, which only promotes obesity and other ailments. Furthermore, for some reason, Americans still opt for the biggest drink when refills are available, which seems like overkill.

Talking Too Loud

Picture of girls
Priscilla Du Preez/Unsplash
Priscilla Du Preez/Unsplash

Ask anyone else in the world, and most will agree that Americans have almost no sense of volume control when it comes to speaking. Whether inside or outside, Americans usually sound like they’re trying to yell over each other, which is most likely what they’re trying to do.

If you’re at a restaurant with people from a variety of other countries, you won’t have a problem picking out which table is the one full of Americans.

Not Taking Vacations

Man working
Neil Godwin/Future via Getty Images
Neil Godwin/Future via Getty Images

Unfortunately, many Americans have become so career-driven that they are afraid to take a vacation for fear of it affecting their work performance. In 2013, it’s estimated that 169 million vacation days went to waste by the American public, with some people not taking a single day off for the entire year.

This is incredibly unhealthy for an individual’s mental state because, believe it or not, people need a break every once and a while.

Watching Too Much Reality Television

Picture of celebrities
Tommaso Boddi/Getty Images for Netflix
Tommaso Boddi/Getty Images for Netflix

Watching too much of anything on television isn’t good for you, but reality TV is especially bad. This type of programming has led countless Americans to develop an unhealthy obsession with celebrities to the point that it can damage one’s psyche.

Reality television creates unrealistic expectations for its viewers, which can distort their perception of the world as well as themselves. People believe their lives should be like their celebrities when it’s completely unrealistic to attain.

Eating Meal Replacements Instead Of Food

Picture of energy bars
John Greim/LightRocket via Getty Images
John Greim/LightRocket via Getty Images

Because many Americans are frequently on the go, many find it more convenient to eat meal replacements in the form of bars or drinks rather than eat actual food. On top of not being all that tasty, these so-called “replacements” don’t come close to the benefits that an actual meal has on your body and mind.

Many of these mixtures don’t contain the necessary vitamins and other phytonutrients that real food does, leaving the person hungry and malnourished.

More Cheese!

Picture of cheese
Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call
Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

Although cheese is a common ingredient in dishes in many cultures, Americans can’t help themselves from putting it on everything. Apparently in American culture, this makes everything taste better, even though that’s not always the case.

This gives way to questionable dishes like mac and cheese pizza, mac and cheese hamburgers, cheesy fries, and more. Of course, by no means are any of these dishes healthy, even before they are completely drowned in cheese.

Chewing Tobacco Is Very American

Picture of baseball player
Robert Riger/Getty Images
Robert Riger/Getty Images

Although smoking is becoming more and more taboo in the United States, a lot of people still resort to chewing tobacco to get their nicotine fix. Although it is more popular in some parts of the country than others, it’s a nasty habit that is often associated with Americans.

If you want to see people using chewing tobacco, throw on a baseball game. Many of the players can be seen spitting tobacco throughout the game.

Eating Late At Night

Picture of a sign
Epics/Getty Images
Epics/Getty Images

Unfortunately, because many fast-food chains in the United States are open 24 hours a day, it’s not unusual for many people to find themselves at a drive-thru at night looking for a late-night snack.

Eating at odd hours can be detrimental to your health. Not only is your body unable to process the food as it normally does, but late-night meals can lead to indigestion which can affect your sleep. So, skip the midnight burger if you can.

Not Sleeping Enough

Man sleeping
Philip Sowels/Future via Getty Images
Philip Sowels/Future via Getty Images

For some reason, in the United States, it almost seems like a competition of who can get the least amount of sleep without collapsing from exhaustion. Weirdly, many Americans pride themselves on the small amount of sleep they are able to function on, which is beyond unhealthy.

Sleep is essential for just about every aspect of your life, and a lack of it can lead to a compromised immune system, misjudgment, depression, and a variety of other health problems.

Eating Lunch At Your Desk

Mean eating lunch
mark peterson/Corbis via Getty Images
mark peterson/Corbis via Getty Images

If Americans do manage to sit down to eat lunch, many of them find themselves doing so while at their desk so they can continue working. This lack of focus on actually eating can lead to hunger later in the day, which results in unwanted snacking.

Furthermore, continuing to work while you eat lunch robs you of a much-needed break. Taking just 30 minutes to eat a meal and step away from your responsibilities can help to increase productivity later in the afternoon.

Salting Everything

Picture of salt
BSIP/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
BSIP/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

When you sit down to eat in the United States, you’ll notice that all of the tables are fixed with salt and pepper shakers with some people salting their food before even tasting it. It’s estimated that Americans eat around 1,000 mg of sodium more than we should, which is for a variety of reasons.

To help cut sodium from your diet, try cooking with fresh ingredients, avoid salting food after it’s been prepared, and, of course, don’t eat fast food.