If you want to lose weight, or simply eat healthily, here are some guidelines to follow (part two)
Following on from yesterday’s piece on diet and nutrition, here are some tips on how to eat.
Food is medicine, and what you eat, and how you eat are among the most important decisions that you make on a daily basis. Respect your body when you eat – find time and space to do it properly.
How to eat
1 Create an ambience – a nice tablecloth, flowers, music, candles. Don’t detract from the food by eating in front of the television or at your desk – the more exciting the meal and the paraphenalia of the meal, the more satisfying the experience, and the quicker you will feel full. If you have to eat in your office, there’s still nothing to stop you using proper plates, cutlery and napkins – it will amuse the hell out of your colleagues. If the weather’s right and you can get to a park, make a picnic for yourself (your friends will probably join you).
Avoid, if you possibly can, the business lunch – over-large portions, unknown ingredients, lots of talking and a possibly stressful situation are not conducive to good digestion – you may already be aware of this if you get ‘wind’ every time you have a business lunch.
2 If you specifically want to lose weight, eat from a smaller plate, then it looks like there’s more food. I eat my meals from what is technically a sideplate, otherwise my portion would just look stupid. Buy a special plate, cutlery and glasses that make you feel happy – something beautiful and celebratory so that when you sit down to eat, you feel relaxed and stimulated.
3 Cut your food into small pieces. The more times you lift your hand to your mouth, the more signals you will give your brain that you’re eating and the quicker you will reach satiety. The complete antithesis of this is, say, a burger, which you bring up to your face and snarf down without moving your hands much. This lack of hand/mouth/brain signalling is one reason that fast food is so dangerous for your waistline.
4 Chew your food. This is the number one most important thing you can do, and when I say chew, I mean really chew. Remember that old adage of 32 times? It’s not enough – you need to chew 40 or 50 times before swallowing. Chew – and this is crucial – until you can’t tell what the food is by its texture. This is the key. You will become satiated very quickly and you won’t get indigestion from former culprits like raw root vegetables, radishes or nuts. Also ‘chew’ your drinks, if you’re having things like fruit juice or almond milk – swill the stuff around in your mouth so your saliva mixes with it and begins the process of digestion.
5 Once you’re full, stop eating. Yes, I know it’s easier said than done. Like many post-war baby boomers, I was brought up to eat everything on my plate, even if I wasn’t hungry, but it is a terrible, awful habit. It’s your food – you’re under no obligation to finish it all. As time goes by, if you begin chewing your food really thoroughly, you’ll find you eat less and less, but the last thing you’ll be is hungry.
Tomorrow: part three, what and how to drink