I’ve seen several people posting about having new fitness or health goals on social media recently. (Not to mention my own desire to get by on the right nutritional track. 👊)
Many people jump onto the latest “diet” trend then in about 1-2 months they are discouraged and right back where they started. After seeing my parents, myself and several friends fall into this horrible cycle I finally found what worked for me. Which is what I’m going to share in this post. I want to tell you about just a few simple tweaks you can make that will make you feel better, inspiring you to make additional changes slowly over time. --There is a reason that 🐢won that race.
I am of the mind set that if you make healthy choices more often than not you will feel better. Naturally we like to feel better which will allow us to make more changes slowly over time.
Sudden dramatic changes always scare us….think about a job loss is a very scary and many many times lift altering situation. But a job promotion can bring a flood of fears and insecurities also.
Changing what you eat can feel overwhelming and let's face it …. a bland 😜 way of life. And who is going to volunteer to be miserable. Not many people.
It is hard to change what you eat since there is always a sense of tradition and loving moments associated with foods. That fun time you had with a girl over coffee and dessert that you are constantly reminded of when you go to your local coffee shop. The day you graduated everyone celebrated by cheerings with this drink or this favorite meal. Food is tired into many emotions for us.
Now of course sometimes not great memories...remember the time you ate at THAT restaurant and the chicken didn’t taste quite right? You were sick for 3 whole days! NEVER going there again.
Therefore, instead of starting with trying to cut all your favorite foods out of your life what if we changed just a few things around how you eat.
Tip 1: Chew Your Food More (20+ times) And Take Smaller Bites
I know it seems silly but chewing is the mechanical break down of your food. Therefore, by chewing and breaking up the food more before the chemical digestion, that starts in the stomach, it helps you get more nutrition from the foods you’re eating.
(I thought of a few other benefits of chewing more: 1. Stop feeling bloated. 2. less of a choking hazard 3. Your 4 year old won't finish eating 45 minutes after you 😜)
In addition, chewing over a longer period allow time for your brain to receive the "I'm full." signal from your stomach. Since this signal is sent by hormones there is a delay which allows for a huge discrepancy between when you are actually physiologically full versus when you "feel full". This signal delay typically results in fast eater over eating then feeling stuffed while slow eaters eat less food without feeling deprived or overly full.
Bonus: chewing your food more allows more of the flavor to develop in your mouth allowing for more overall enjoyment of your meal.
Tip 2: Don't Eat While Distracted
We “eat” with our eyes and nose as much as our mouths. How many times have you gone to a restaurant and they just throw your food on the plate making it look far less appealing. Not that taste changed at all but your immediate perception of the food changed.😞 I love the smell of my morning coffee☕️ almost as much as the taste. And I’m certainly not going to drink spoiled milk after smelling it. 😖
To get more enjoyment while eating with the added bonus of not feeling the need to over eat then engage more of your senses during the meal you are completely present for each meal.
If you are watching 📺 or working while eating then you will be more likely to eat past the point of being full and move into being uncomfortably stuffed all while not feeling satisfied.
Wouldn’t it be nice to eat enough food to feel full and content or even energized enough to look forward to what comes next in your day? Be present for your meals...fully enjoy the colors on the plate, the smells of the foods, and the delicious flavors by being completely present.
Bonus: We all know what happens when we open a bag of chips or cookies while watching a movie….I swear that bag was full! 🤔 (I don't even remember eating them so the calories don’t count right?) 😬 😜
Tip 3: Only Eat Food On a Plate
I don’t know about you but if I open a bag of chips then I'm GOING TO FINISH that bag of chips. (this is why I just don’t buy them...I’m weak 🥺)
This brings me to my third nutrition tip: don't eat food straight out of the package. It sounds good…”I’ll have a sandwich and “some” chips.” Then you sit down with the bag of chips and before you know all the chips are gone.
There is something to the idea of out of 👀out of mind...so if you make that same sandwich and put chips on the plate then when you become full you won't feel the need to have seconds.
Of course, I am not really advocating eating chips regularly. Personally, I like baby carrots with my sandwiches...but in all fairness you don’t want to eat the whole bag of baby carrots either 🤢
So as a way to eat in moderation, whether you are talking about a healthy or a treat snack, put your food on a plate. 😜 👊
Tip 4: Eat on smaller plates
In the 1960 the average dinner plate measured 8.5 inches, now the average dinner plate measured 12 inches.
Why does the plate size matter? We are very visual eaters so when we see a space on our plates we feel as though something is missing. This causes us to fill the whole plate up with food whether we need that much food or not to be full. This is the danger since even if we are not that hungry we feel obligated to finish all the food on our plates.
In the 1960s, life was more physical than it is now ie it required more energy for our day to day tasks. For instance, automatic dishwashers, and automatic washers/ dryers were not common in everyone’s home in the 1960s. It wasn’t until the 1970s that it became common for there to be one car per two adults in a house. I’m pointing this out to show that just doing our basic day to day choirs took more physical effort when it was common to eat less food.
If we just look at the 1960's to now, our world has dramatically changed. Most of our 2020 jobs are done while sitting and even physical/manual labor jobs have much better tools and equipment requiring less physical effort to complete.
Yet we have been trained to eat more food and in many cases higher energy foods used people consumed in the 1960s.
Finding plates that are smaller but still hold the amount of food you need to get the number of calories you need to be healthy while not feeling overly stuffed is the tip for this week. There is a difference between physical need for food, the psychological need for energy, and our appetite, eating driven my emotional desire, this is a real struggle for many people on a daily basis. I hope this tip is helpful. Have a great day!
Tip 5: Drink water with your meal
Setting a goal to drink 8 -16 oz of water with each meal can improve your health. If you are already doing this then congratulations keep reading to find out why this is such a great habit.
First, by drinking 8 - 16 oz of water each meal when you don’t normally drink that much water means that now getting 24 - 48 oz. People who typically drink coffee, tea or sodas will notice a huge difference in their skin (it will be less dry), the flexibility of ligaments, tendons and muscle and so much more. Your whole body from your skin to digestion will look and feel better!
Second, if you drink your water with food then your body will absorb more water compared to if you simply chug water to “catch up” or when you drink between meals. By drinking with your food you will reduce the immediate need to use the restroom. (which is the biggest complaint I get from everyone that I talk to about increasing their water consumption.)
Third, by maintaining good hydration then you will help reduce uncontrollable hunger. That’s right drinking water can help you feel full more quickly during a meal; allowing you to eat less without feeling starved. In addition, an odd quirk in our bodies is that the chemical trigger that tells you that you’re hungry can be triggered by your bodies need for food or water. Which means that sometimes we might be eating when our bodies really want water.
Try drinking water with your meals and tell me if it makes a difference for you.
To learn more about hydration check out my blog.
Tip #6: Have Peppermint Tea After Your Meals
What wait do I really need a reason to have peppermint after my meal? No, But there is a reason, other than they taste good and help with bad breath, to eat a peppermint at the end of a meal.
You know that feeling of being full but you just can't stop craving more of something..but what…
Which prompts you to look through the refrigerator, think about getting a second helping of dinner, or maybe something else…
You know those times that you’ve eaten enough food but you can't shake the urge to find something else to eat. Let peppermint come to the rescue...peppermint will stop that craving in its tracks.
That’s right simply eating a peppermint breath mint, peppermint candy, peppermint gum or peppermint tea….your choice...you can stop your appetite from nagging at you to eat more even when you physically feel full.
There you have it… 6 tips on how to modify the amount of food you are eating while maximizing the nutrition you are getting from the food you are eating.
The trick too starting and staying on a health journey is not to make huge dramatic changes, it’s to make small incremental changes that you can be consistent with over a long time until you forget that you ever did things a different way.
WE HELP ACTIVE ADULTS OVERCOME THEIR ACHES AND PAINS TO GET THEM BACK TO THEIR FAVORITE ACTIVITIES WITHOUT MEDICATION, INJECTIONS OR SURGERIES.
Dr. Molly McDonald