We all hear what to eat tips all the time. From specific foods we should be eating to what proportions of macronutrients we should have at every meal. While all of this may be great information and can certainly help you feel better and get healthier, it may all be in vain without looking at ‘how you eat’.
By how you eat, I mean, what state are you in, and how much time do you give yourself to actually eat your food.
Let me explain further. Your body does not know the difference between stressors. It does not know if you are running from a lion, or stressed at work, or having a heated fight with your partner. Stress is stress and when you are in that state your body halts digestion. I mean, imagine you were really being chased by a lion? Your body has to make running away from that lion a priority, not digesting your last meal.
Knowing this, what do you think happens, when we eat at our desk while stressed out about a deadline, or as we are running out the door to make the bus, or while we are driving in stressful traffic? A highly stressed body will not only halt digestion, but also hold on to excess fat stores, which clearly none of us want, especially over the holidays.
This is why we need to make time to eat instead of just wolfing down our meals, or eating in a stressful environment and state. I know what you’re thinking, trust me, I think the same thing almost daily….you don’t have time! You don’t have time to chill out and eat, there is just too much to do!
Life is certainly busy! But we all have two choices, we can either continue to do what we are doing, hoping that by eating healthier and taking in a daily probiotic, our digestion will improve, that we won’t be bloated all the time, and that we can finally start to lose some stubborn inches, or we can make a little time for ourselves and change how we eat.
I began by saying that “how you eat is more important that what you eat” because you could be making the most conscious effort to eat the right foods and pack a healthy lunch, but if you are eating that food in a stressed state, then you may be getting little to none of the the benefits of eating that good food.
Changing how you eat has the potential on changing your health in huge way. If health begins at the gut, as many experts have shown, then can we truly be healthy if we have poor digestion and we are constipated all the time? I think that you can conclude the answer.
Eating in a hurry also takes all the pleasure out of eating. Our brains are hardwired to get pleasure out of the act of eating and depriving our self of this makes it much more likely to binge eat. We have built the habit of eating mindlessly, without taking the time to chew and enjoy the textures and flavour of our food.
These are some steps that you can start taking at your next meal. These tips will also help you eat more mindfully over the holidays and avoid gaining an extra ten pounds for the new year.
I admit, if you are naturally a fast eater that is always on the go, like me, these will be hard at first, but after a few weeks you will be so glad that you have implemented these changes.
- Begin each meal being thankful for that meal. This sets the tone for the meal, and avoids mindless eating.
- Sit away from your computer screen, phone, tv, and find yourself a place where you are going to be able to think about the act of eating, rather than everything else you have to accomplish.
- Carve out 20 min for each meal of the day. Don’t freak out, your meals don’t always have to last 20min, the idea is to become aware of how fast you are eating and begin to slow it down. If day 1 you ate your meal in 5 min, then day 2 add 5 min to that and aim to take 10min to eat. Each day increasing a bit until it takes you approx. 20min to eat.
Allowing yourself the ability to take 20min to eat, will also signal your body’s full response. It takes approximately 20min for the body to know that it is full, so when you eat too quickly you don’t allow yourself the chance to feel full, which often results in over eating.
- Some tips that will help you: stop to take a deep breath at least 3 times between bites, put down your fork at least 3 times during your meal, and really chew your food until it’s almost liquid.
This is an incredibly powerful activity to begin practicing during the holiday season. We are surrounded by not so great foods, loads of alcoholic drinks and desserts. But what if you allowed yourself some conscious indulgence? I mean, let’s face it, it’s often not necessarily what people are eating during the holidays that result in weight gain and then joining the gym in January. It’s actually how much we eat – or how unconsciously we eat that gets us into trouble.
Have a fantastic day!