We have an excuse for every poor choice we make today: "I had bad parents;" "No one told me the truth;" or "It's just the way I am."
The sad fact is we think it will justify our actions. But when it comes to our choices at mealtime, we are finding it's more about harboring bad habits than an inherited or environmentally stimulated bad behavior.
True, we can inherit poor eating behaviors from our parents or past eating patterns, but we have so many options today to eat healthy. If we want to change where we are going, it starts with the choices we make today. I know there are conflicting words of advice everywhere you turn, and knowing what to do can be complicated. So here is an offering of simple tips to help you make positive health choices.
1. Start eating at the dinner table. Our tendency today is to eat on the run, on the couch, or out of a bag. The result is we eat more. Why? Because we are eating whatever is convenient, eating larger amounts, and sometimes we eat directly out of the pots—no portion restrictions—it's a free-for-all!
If you take the time to sit at the table, you are more conscious of your portions. You can unwind with the family, not race to get done. Go over the events of the day, and if you like, you'll have the opportunity to put on some background music to make it a more relaxing enjoyable time.
2. Exchange lunch plates for dinner plates. This is one I have used many times. When you use a smaller plate, your eyes see more food—it's true! If our eyes are bigger than our stomachs, why not fool them? I was brought up with the mindset that you eat everything on your plate because someone somewhere is starving. This led me to eat past the full line, and the result was more calories than I required. So today I use smaller plates and feel full, not stuffed.
3. Slow down the pace. Do you find yourself eating just to get something in your stomach? More than likely you eat fast because eating has become a function, not an experience. I can hear it now, "Linda, my life is too hectic for me to experience my food!" Granted, we do live fast-paced lives, but it's the fast-paced eating that is driving us to an early grave.
When we choose to take 15 to 20 minutes to eat a meal, we find ourselves satisfied with less food. Setting your fork down between bites while you savor the flavor of your meal will allow your mind to catch up with your stomach, and the full sensation will be recognized earlier. Taking the time to actually chew your food instead of inhaling it will help in the process as well.
I am the worst at eating for function instead of experience. But I have found that over the years, if I actually think about what I'm eating (not in an obsessive way) and relax as I do it, the digestion process is enhanced as well. Nothing causes an upset stomach like gulping down food on the run.
I guess this means we need to make time, not just take time, to eat. What a concept! Even if you are one of those who chooses to eat smaller meals six times a day, slow down and enjoy it.
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