Eating can be both a blessing and a curse. Many people struggle with eating because they cannot keep it in balance. They end up eating too little or too much and do not live healthy lives because of it. We all know the dangers of eating too little. Probably everyone has at least one friend that struggles with an eating disorder of some kind. That friend just cannot seem to get a grip on their eating patterns and they are unhealthy because of it. They think about or talk about food almost constantly.
Other people struggle with eating too much. Eating more food than we need to live is something that the majority of people struggle with. Eating is associated with most kinds of social activities and events and therefore people learn to eat for reasons other than to satisfy hunger or prolong their health. Eating becomes a way to experience pleasure or to numb the pains of life.
The bottom line is that whether people struggle with eating too little or with indulging in food too much, they are not using food in ways that are healthy and life-promoting. Eating, while it is definitely meant to bring people pleasure and satisfaction, is primarily to be a means of sustaining a healthy life. Our problems begin anytime eating is neglected or indulged in beyond what is necessary.
Take a look at your eating patterns. You may be surprised to see that you have established unhealthy eating habits over the years. Perhaps your schedule for each day is centered on when you can have meals or a snack. If so, there is a high chance that food has become a bit too high of a priority. Anytime that your thoughts are consumed with food, whether with restraining yourself from it or with consuming more of it, you are thinking of eating and of food in unhealthy ways.
Eating the Right Way
It probably comes to you as naturally as breathing—the art of eating. However, you might never have been taught to eat well. This is critically important because, unless you learn to eat well, you may never master the art of dieting. In our society, certain inappropriate eating habits have become routine. By attacking these habits, you can increase the likelihood that you will actually lose weight.
To begin with, it is important that you learn to eat slowly. At first, this might be quite a challenge. We have been conditioned to live in a fast-food world. We rush meals in order to have time to run to soccer practice, to a piano recital, or to school and work.
We think that rushing saves us time—but such a routine can easily backfire, leaving us with unwanted pounds. Studies have shown that at least 10 minutes is required before the brain receives the message that the stomach is full. This means that you could be eating long after you are actually satiated. Your meal—whether it’s in the morning, afternoon, or evening—should last at least ten minutes.
Train yourself to lengthen your meal by engaging in conversation, resting your fork between courses, chewing slowly, and drinking plenty of water between courses. You should also wait at least ten minutes after your main meal before deciding if you need dessert. Within that period of time, you may discover that you weren’t really hungry after all.
Another trick is to place serving dishes on the counter and leave them there. As a result, you’ll actually have to get up out of your seat in order to get more food. You may decide that it’s not worth the bother. Or you may find that you discover that you need no more food between courses. Also, do not eat directly from an ice cream carton, tortilla chip bag, or cracker box. Otherwise, you could find yourself easily overeating.
You should always eat at the table. This prevents you from trying to engage in multitasking, such as surfing the ‘Net, watching television, or flipping through magazines while you eat. At the table, you’ll be forced to concentrate on how much food you are putting into your mouth. If you eat anywhere else, you may lose track of how much food you’re consuming.
Abandon the idea that you must clean your plate. It is simply not true. Research has shown that more than half of adults insist on cleaning their plates, even when they are already full. This means that you are overeating simply out of politeness. Such a habit only serves to add unwanted pounds. Instead of cleaning your plate, try eating only that portion of food that makes you feel full. You’ll be healthier and happier that way.
Do not keep food in plain view during the day. If the cookie jar is open or the pretzel bag is out on the table, you’ll have a tremendous urge to eat, even if you are not hungry. After a meal, put your food away in the refrigerator, inside your cupboard, or in the Lazy Susan. This way, you’ll actually have to do some work to get at the food before you consume it.
If you happen to overeat, don’t spend a great deal of time sulking. Accept your mistake and move on. If you’ve veered off course, take corrective action and forget about it. Otherwise, you could find yourself eating out of frustration or going off your diet entirely. It’s better to sabotage a single meal than a lifetime’s worth of meals.
While shifting your diet…
Everyone has a habit or a vice. Some people smoke. Some people bite their fingernails. Some people can’t resist having a piece of chocolate before bedtime, and others snore when they sleep. Others are habitual dieters, always looking for a new diet that promises astonishing results.
Some people can tick off a list of new diets that they have tried while some people can’t even count every new diet they have tried. However, bombarded we maybe with new diet choices; there is one fact that can’t be ignored. We should limit our caloric intake while we eat.
Here we are talking about eating in moderation. You don’t have to go hungry, but you need to use willpower to make sure you don’t overeat. Limiting your calories means shedding those unwanted pounds.
What happens when you don’t have willpower? Face it; some of us just don’t have that extra willpower that we need to turn down a second serving of our favorite food. It’s hard to do, especially when your new diet has left you hungry.
While eating out…
Many people I know love eating out at different cafes and restaurants. They love trying out new places almost as much as they love returning to their old favorite spots. They love trying new menu items and discovering new ways to eat the foods they enjoy the most. Eating out can be both a wonderful and very dangerous thing.
Eating out can also be great because we can try a wide variety of foods and drinks that we don’t have the ability to make ourselves. No one loves eating the same basic foods over and over again, so eating out can be a good way to give our taste buds something new.
However, if we are not careful, eating out can also be dangerous for a couple of big reasons. First, we must use caution in eating out for the sake of our health. Most restaurants and cafes offer huge portions of items that are unhealthy to eat and drink. Eating out often means filling up on appetizers, the main course, a few high-calorie beverages, and a dessert to finish off the evening.
Think about how many calories you can consume during a meal like this. I am not, of course, saying that we should never enjoy eating out. I am, however, saying that we need to be careful, for our health’s sake, about eating out too frequently. We must be careful to watch our choices when we are eating out. Choose healthier items or commit to only eating half of the meal you choose. There are ways of eating out healthily, it just takes conscious effort.
Another huge reason to be careful about eating out too often is your pocketbook and budget. It is no secret that eating out costs more, on average, than cooking meals in your own home. It is easy to accumulate large bills, especially in nicer places. So be careful that you stick to a budget when you make plans for eating out.
You may be self-conscious at first as you attempt to change your eating habits. Realize that your bad habits did not start overnight, so it will take some time to correct them. While it may seem an arduous task initially, it is well worth the effort. You’ll quickly find that your new eating habits have helped you to lose unwanted weight.
Granted, such techniques as hiding your food and eating more slowly will not in themselves cause you to lose weight, but they will help you to curb your overeating over the long run. Giving eating a rightful place in our lives is very important (1).
Enjoy it, but do it with caution. Make an effort to keep your perspective about eating balanced and healthy. Your life will be better and longer because of it.