When it comes to healthy eating, it’s just as important to know how to eat as it is to know what to eat. In other words, there are things you can do that will help you in your weight loss efforts, and things you should avoid because they’ll make the whole process harder than it has to be.
Although the basic function of eating is to fuel your body, this is rarely why people eat. They eat because it’s there, its meal time or for emotional reasons; basically, every other reason than because they’re physically hungry.
Physical Hunger Versus Emotional Hunger
When was the last time you ate because your body mandated it? You felt light-headed, dizzy or even nauseous because you required food?
Sadly, many people can’t recall because they either feed themselves too often or they just don’t recognize the cues.
When your blood sugar drops as a result of needing sustenance, you will likely get agitated or moody.
This is extremely common in diabetics when they encounter a diabetic attack. They get combative and aggressive because their blood sugar is too low.
So, if it’s been awhile since your last meal and you feel lethargic, anxious or agitated, you may need to eat.
But, what happens when you want food and you aren’t physically hungry?
Chances are good that you’re encountering one of three things:
- Its meal time and you feel you should be eating
- It’s there so it entices you to eat regardless of your hunger
- Your you’re trying to satisfy an emotional need
While the first two are pretty self-explanatory, emotional eating can take a huge toll on you over time if you use it to resolve your feelings on a regular basis. While it does have the ability to distract you or soothe you momentarily, the feelings aren’t long lasting.
If you notice that you’re going to the kitchen in search of food because you’re bored, sad, anxious, frustrated, angry, or feeling any other emotion, you’re much better off doing something that can actually resolve the feeling.
Food cannot resolve non-food issues; it just can’t.
- If you’re tired, take a nap
- If you’re sad, do something that makes you happy
- If you’re bored, tackle your to-do list
Whatever you’re feeling, do something that directly affects it and makes it better.
Everyone who has ever tried to watch their weight is all too familiar with these roller coaster hunger pangs that can destroy even the best of intentions. Even if you have willpower of steel, endure a set of cravings and watch it melt.
One of the most basic causes of cravings is sugar. When you consume something that has real or artificial sugar in it, you’re likely going to cause your blood sugar to spike and then drop.
In an attempt by your body to raise it again, it starts a craving for something that will take it up immediately, which is usually your treats like cakes, cookies, candies, chips and crackers.
If you want to keep cravings at bay, limit your consumption of these types of foods. You’ll stop the craving roller coaster before it even has a chance to start.
The best thing you can do for your body is to eat five or six mini-meals a day, instead of the old standard of two or three larger meals. This helps keep your blood sugar stable which results in better food control, improved mood and higher energy.
Just make sure you honor the mini part. You can’t eat huge meals that often and expect to meet your health and fitness goals. Take your daily calories and divide them up accordingly.
One of the best ways to do this is to pay attention to your portion sizes. If you’re out and about and don’t have access to measuring devices, or if you’re home and don’t take the time to use them, you can still figure out basic portion sizes based on everyday objects that you’re familiar with.
Here are some correlations you can use rather easily:
- 1 cup = tennis ball
- ½ cup = muffin tin
- ¼ cup = handful
- 1 ounce = your entire thumb
- 1 tablespoon = your thumb from 1st joint to fingertip
- 1 teaspoon = your index finger from 1st joint to fingertip
Practice Mindful Eating
Finally, if you practice mindful eating, you’ll find that you require less food to fill you up and you’re more satisfied with your meals. It’s important that you stay in the present when you eat because you need to convince your mind that you ate, as well as convincing your body.
When you eat in this manner you’ll automatically lose weight with no effort at all other than paying attention to what you’re eating.
Here are some mindful eating techniques that you can follow:
- When you eat, make it a point to sit down. Don’t stand at the fridge, eat at the counter or in the car. If at all possible, set yourself down at a table.
- Put your food on a plate and use utensils if necessary. In order to satisfy your mind that you’ve actually consumed a meal, it needs to see it as such.
- When you’re actually eating, limit other distractions. Turn off the TV, set down the cell phone and just eat.
- Pay attention to the taste and texture of your food. Don’t just put it in your mouth and swallow it. Feel it on your tongue. Try to pick out the different tastes that it presents, such as sour, sweet or salty.
- Eat slowly. Take the time to experience the food completely.
Eating is more than just giving your body food. It’s about making sure that it has what it needs, when it needs and how it needs it. It’s an art and a science.
Weight loss is hard enough. Don’t make it harder than it has to be by doing things that will sabotage your efforts. If you follow these healthy eating guidelines, you’ll notice the weight melt away and your health goals will be within your reach!