There are a lot of rules and advice for what to eat when you’re trying to live a healthier lifestyle, but did you know that how you eat matters, too?
- Eat more slowly. People that eat more quickly tend to be heavier than those that eat meals more slowly. Your body releases hormones that act as cues telling you when to eat (ghrelin), and when to stop eating (cholecystokinin, peptide YY, and peptide-1). The latter hormones tell your brain you’ve eaten and no more food is needed. The release of the hormones and cue to the brain is a process that can take up to twenty minutes. Slowing down to enjoy your meal also allows your hormones to reach your brain before you overeat and consume more calories than your body needs. The next time you enjoy a meal, practice setting your fork down between bites, really chewing your food, and taking a drink of water frequently during your meal.
- Eat more mindfully. Eating mindfully requires you to do nothing more than just pay attention to the food you are eating. Consider why you are eating the food you are eating. Are you stressed and reaching for junk food? Sad or depressed and craving a less-than-healthy comfort food? Once you start asking yourself why you’re eating what you’re eating, it becomes easier to recognize bad habits and opt for better decisions.
- Eliminate distractions. Restaurants notoriously have televisions in every corner, loud music, or games on the tables. The more distractions available, the more likely you are to overeat and drink, even when you had planned on a healthy dinner. Even at home, the television or your phone can be a huge distraction that leads you to mindlessly reach for another handful of chips, or go back for seconds while you’re too distracted to pay attention to your portions. Turn off the television, put down the phone, and take the time to eat and enjoy your food. The more checked in you are with your meal, the less likely you’ll be to ignore that anti-hunger hormone as soon as it is released.
- Break the habit of eating out of boredom. If you eat when you’re bored, rather than hungry, you’re certainly not alone. Whether boredom tends to occur for you during the work day or while you’re at home, stop yourself from heading to the vending machine or reaching for a snack. Instead, be creative. Can you call up a friend? Step away from your desk and take a fifteen minute walk outside? Check the FitClub schedule for your favorite group class? If you can wait even a few minutes and distract yourself with something more interesting than another snack because you’re bored, you’ll find it easier to distinguish boredom from hunger.
How do you eat for better health?