Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you who you are.
In the thirst to understand further the fundamentals of eating right to lose weight, it surprised me to learn that every book, article, research and specialist stated some very simple rules for me to digest.
Most of the ideas are known by all of us but these simple ideas need determination to become habits and for us to imbibe them as part of our lives. Many ideas are what our grandmothers and elders have chided us to do and ideas we have heard before but we just don’t practice.
1. Chew your food
The simple essence of the essence of digestion is to let our mouth do most of the work during digestion, easing up the work for our stomach and also helping nutrients reach our blood. I used to gulp my food down to rush back to so a million other things on my mind and realised the folly and impact just recently.
The training of my mind to unlearn decades of gulping and sprinting through my eating has probably been the toughest part of my lifestyle change and is still a work in progress.
The other impact of chewing slowly is that your brain tells your body your stomach is full and you land up eating a lot less.
To know more ;
the effects of chewing your food right
2.Not having water during meals
This is another habit I have struggled to change and now I have almost got my handle on. These are words my grandmother and mother always said, but I never paid heed to.
Water dilutes the acids needed to help with our digestive process, makes the process longer, can result in heartburn and gas, and further in fat retention and storage in the body.
Water is meant to be had 15 to 30 minutes before your meal and 30 minutes after. That also should be room temperature water and not the cold water we love to glug. I also read and learnt that herbal tea after 30 minutes of eating helps digestion further.
Though I miss washing my food down fast with chilled water, the way I feel through the day without exhaustion or fatigue and a bloated stomach makes this habit worth every bit of the effort.
Sodas, sparkling water and soft drinks are far worse and can put a spanner in a healthy digestive process.
It’s necessary to hydrate the body with water through the day but refrain during meals. Often, when we are hungry and yearn for a snack or a heavy meal, a glass of water is all we really need. When I have tried this, I have landed up staying away from unnecessary snacking.
Read further :
the effect of drinking water during meals
3.Five small meals through the day
Our body stores fat when it senses that it may be starved of food. It’s a smart reaction system our bodies have for survival. The trick is to reward the body every time it seeks food and kick start our metabolism.
What I learnt is to have smaller meals along with snacks in between them and your body suddenly is never hungry. Fruit, dry fruit, nuts or protein shakes (if you are working out) help keep hunger at bay and provide the energy we need. Reducing the quantities of our meals (one helping in the size of our palm) along with a handful of nuts between meals helps keeping us going through the day.
We should eat once every 3 1/2 hours but take care of what we feed ourselves. The logic is not to eat any junk 5 times a day but intake what’s right for the body.
eating 5 small meals everyday
I used to skip breakfast when I had just started working and I lived alone. This in retrospect was one of the worst things I did to my body. Ideally one should have breakfast within 30 minutes of waking up because it has been almost 10 hours before the last meal at supper.
Breakfast maintains our sugar level, insulin, it keeps us from storing fat, keeps our energy high and provides the nutrients for the day.
why we shouldn’t skip breakfast
5.Eating dinner early
The other rule I was flouting was the dinner timing. I would eat just before bed and amble into bed before digesting my food. Dinner is meant to be eaten at least 3 hours before getting to bed ideally.
Early dinner helps fat loss, provides better sleep, reduces heart burn and has a host of other advantages.
why we should eat dinner early
6. Being there 100%
Earlier, I would watch TV during dinner, read a newspaper with breakfast and conduct a meeting along with my lunch.
Every article and book I read harps about the testament of being mindful and 100% there with your food. They all say the same things, be there in mind and body when you eat, to make it a ritual of love and give the meal every element of focus.
No computer, phone, book magazine or TV vying for your attention, just you and the meal. Eating at the table, specially one meal a day as a ritual with the family. Being mindful of the food, savoring the taste, noticing the nuances of the flavours and the textures in the dish, chewing slowly and relishing the meal like this were your last meal.
being mindful of our eating
7. No more drinking sugar in any form
I read that if we just do away with any sugar based drink, we trim so many unnecessary calories. Soft drinks, coffee, juices (canned, bottled and concentrates), tea and any other form of sugared water can affect the body, our teeth, composition and become a catalyst for so many diseases besides fat gain. Fructose increases Uric acid, increases cholesterol, causes gout, heart and liver diseases.
I have found fresh coconut water or even fresh lime with a dash of salt as amazing replacements from the addictions of soft drinks and sodas. Green tea is a great replacement for tea and coffee.
the ill effects of sodas and juices
8.Combining food correctly
How we combine our food is possibly the single most important aspect of how we eat. Understanding protein, carbohydrates, vitamins and the effect different food have on the body as they work in tandem is critical. As an Indian, we have a history of a very eclectic mix of dishes that accompany every meal. Rice and Roti with vegetables, meat, fish and chicken curry and desserts after (India incidentally also has the highest rate of heart diseases. Heart disease is also the biggest killer in India.). So also when we flip through the menu of a typical American diner or fast food outlet, the combinations are scary.
Anthony Robbins has a research centre for food and his books and seminars give food and its combination so much importance because how we eat determines how we succeed, how we balance our lives, our energy levels and how it percolates into every aspect of our mindset. How we look, our confidence and how we feel.
Fruit is meant to be eaten only upto 12 pm. Even in fruit, there are fruit which are high on sugar and avoidable. Within vegetables, we need to choose wisely too and find suitable replacements. Fruit is not meant to be eaten after our meals because we digest fruit in our lower intestine and this causes belching. We are meant to combine meat with salads and vegetables, not other carbohydrates or meat. It was interesting understanding these rules, seeing the benefits of specific food groups and adopting them.
dangerous food combinations
9.Replacing the villains in your life
There were so many dishes and food categories I knew were bad for me which eventually I broke up with and we never spoke again. I am feeling so much better and I realised that there were so many more fish in the sea (pun intended)!
I was a bread addict and loved mashed potatoes. I let go of white carbohydrates completely. Protein bread, quinoa and wholemeal entered my life. Chocolate bars, pizza, coffee, burgers and other junk food walked out on me and in came crunchy gourmet salads, fish, fruit, nuts, egg whites, beans, grilled chicken, lean meat and a host of other options.
My wife wove her magic chef wand, researched the web for ideas, improvised and made the switch tasty and something I looked forward to.
unhealthy food to avoid
10.Getting the mindset to eat right
Finally for me it was about realizing and not telling myself that I was compromising, or on a diet or that I am suffering.
Earlier, I would read articles and hear people talk healthy and I would scoff in my mind that they are missing out on life. I would tell myself that life is short, it’s not worth losing all the good things.
How wrong I was!
Then I realised that this is a lifestyle switch, its what I was doing to my inside. It’s how I affect my aging, it’s about one day being around for my kids and wanting to play football energetically with my grand kids. This is about feeling and looking young, being energetic, sleeping well, being confident and getting that dream waist line.
It’s when I realised that I am doing what’s best for my body and mind and this is the only way to be that I could adopt the new lifestyle shift easily and make it fun.
Today I don’t need a cheat day. Every day is fun and I live this lifestyle choice with élan. And when I do indulge in a tasty biriyani, a pasta, burger or pop corn at the movies occasionally I know the right quantity and when to stop.
The body needs 1500 calories of intake of you want to lose weight, 2000 if you want to maintain the weight and anything more adds up! Add exercise and being physically active to this and this is I guess as simple a formula as can be.
Adopting all these rules is a work in progress for me and I am almost there.
I have also linked some great visuals I found on Pinterest about eating right and info graphics on food. These are really inspiring and visually depict what’s great for us!
developing the mindset for eating healthy
-the author recently lost over 45 pounds combining the learning from this and cardio exercise. Besides articles from the web, insights from books and videos of Anthony Robbins, Paul Allen, Tim Ferris and Men’s health provides the ingredients and the garnish is his own experiments and home truths.