We’ve gone over the basics off a good diet on numerous occasions and they’ll still get the best results: Lots of good quality, lean protein, tons of vegetables lots of clean water, some fruit, nuts and seeds and little or no processed food.
However, even if your current diet doesn’t fit that ideal, there are still some ways that you can get the most from your food without piling on the pounds.
Chew Your Food. There’s a saying that “You Are What You Eat”. This is not quite true. A better version is “You Are What You Digest and Absorb.” Although it’s not quite as catchy, this saying is far more accurate.
Digestion, which is the breaking down of food, actually begins even before you start eating. In many cases the mere thought of eating can cause the release of saliva in the mouth which helps to break down food.
However, a much more significant way of breaking down food in the mouth is by chewing it well. The idea is to chew your food until it has a soup-like quality and this has a number of advantages: The very act of chewing will work your jaw muscles a little harder and burn a few extra calories.
By breaking down the food into smaller pieces, your stomach and intestines will then have an easier job breaking it into even smaller molecules. This extra chewing will also slow the time it takes to eat your meal and will usually result in your feeling full by the end of the meal.
Relax While Eating. This is another way to support the absorption of nutrients from food. Natural foods contain vitamins and minerals to help support our health. But they can only be released from food and taken into the body’s cells if the food has been properly broken down and we are in a relaxed state of mind.
Unfortunately the tendency nowadays is to eat on the go, while we are trying to do 3 or 4 other things at the same time. This leads to food being wolfed down, which tends to cause a stress response and means that the digestive system can’t function properly.
A better option is to take approximately 20 minutes to eat in a relaxed setting, where the focus is entirely on the meal. By allowing time to eat properly, the chances are that you will feel better and more refreshed to carry out your other tasks.
Slow Down. This is closely linked to the previous 2 points but it’s main purpose is to avoid over-eating. It’s been estimated that it takes approximately 20 minutes for the signal that you are full, to go from your stomach to your brain. If you are eating like your mouth is a vacuum cleaner, then the chances are that you will eat a lot more calories than you need before your brain gets the signal to walk away from the table.
A simple way of applying this method is to put your knife and fork down in between every mouthful. Eating in relaxed company (not a business lunch) can also help reduce the amount of calories consumed.
Choose Smaller Plates. Most of us were taught as kids to finish what was on our plates, and this type of conditioning can last into adulthood. By putting your food on smaller plates, you can reduce the amount of food you eat without feeling like you’re a disgrace to your Mammy.
Avoid Eating in front of a screen. These days it has become the norm to munch away while staring at a laptop, tv or mobile phone screen. The problem with this type of mindless eating is that our attention is captured by the screen and it almost guarantees that we will eat too much and too quickly. A much better option is to switch off, have your snack or meal and then resume your emailing/surfing or tv viewing.
All of the above are very easy to include in your daily eating habits and can help you get the most from your current diet, regardless of its quality.