Eating didn’t used to be overly complicated or lead to obesity and common eating disorders that we have today. Targeted food marketing and convenience causes many of us to make bad eating choices. It’s not uncommon to eat processed foods as part of our everyday diet, and to have meals with macronutrient ratios out of balance; this makes it difficult for us to maintain a healthier body composition.
Here are a few essential habits to ensure you are eating healthier.
1. Recognise how food makes you feel
If a food makes you feel great, there’s something in it that your body doesn’t agree with. For example, not having the correct enzymes to process grains or dairy. Your liver might not be functioning optimally and leading to an inability to metabolise fat efficiently. You could be carb intolerant due to insulin resistance. If food makes you feel sick, tired or hurt in any way, avoid it and make sure to follow up with a healthcare professional.
2. Every meal you eat should contain proteins, fibrous vegetables and fat
Across the board, all meals shouldn’t be too different from one to the other. For breakfast, lunch and dinner, try to ensure that the composition of macros across all meals is basically in the same range throughout.
A common myth is that a high carb option like cereal or a bagel for breakfast is a good idea. This norm is part of the reason we have a high obesity rate and high chronic disease rates. Instead, plan every meal around proteins, fibrous vegetables and fat. Fat provides bioavailable vitamins and improves satiety. Veggies provide fiber and phytonutrients, while protein contains amino acids which are the building blocks for tissue and bone repair. Eating this way will also help you avoid hunger by improving gut hormone levels involved in keeping blood sugar levels steady.
A balanced diet is one that provides all the macronutrients and the greatest nourishment for the least amount of calories, while minimising hunger.
3. Take care of your gut
Your GI tract is the control centre of the entire body. The bacteria in our gastrointestinal tracts affect brain function, thinking patterns, and how many calories our bodies absorb. Functioning correctly, your gut can keep you looking lean, staying healthy and help you avoid getting sick. In fact one of the leading areas in helping fight obesity and curing chronic disease is by improving bacteria of the gut. Incorporate probiotics and eat fermented foods to assist in this.
4. Avoid processed foods
Unfortunately, no matter how many nourishing or healthful marketing slogans are used, processed foods contain chemical preservatives, artificial sweeteners, food dyes, man made fats and sweeteners that the human body is not designed to metabolise in large quantities.
6. Gain vital nutrients from animal-based protein
A lack of sleep has a profoundly negative effect on eating behaviour, leading us to eat high-fat, high-sugar foods. Lack of sleep also leads us to eat significantly above our average norms and reduces our overall average caloric expenditure by moving less. Those who sleep less are shown to have higher risk of obesity. It can also cause poor blood sugar and reduced insulin sensitivity, leading your body to favour fat storage.
To counter this, you need to make ideal food choices and try to stay active. When you’re sleep deprived, make the extra effort to get a lot of protein, water, and fibrous vegetables. Track your food intake, and put in the extra effort to find means to manage your sleep and stress accordingly.
7. Have a set meal frequency
Recent studies show that time restricted eating in which you only eat within a 10-12 eating window is better for body composition and health than eating all hours of the day and night, which many people often do. This also improves our circadian rhythms and enhances our sensitivity to the satiety hormone, leptin.
Frequent meals every 4 hours with a couple of healthy snacks during the eating window appear to yield the greatest satiety and the least hunger for the majority of people.
8. Have an eating ritual: chewing, thanking and being aware of what you’re eating.
Mindful eating may seem new age, but the truth and reality is that it pays off. Studies have shown that people who take the time to be actively aware of the process of enjoying their food, have more satisfaction from their meals and eat less.
Along with the body taking a significant time to tell you that you’ve had enough to eat after swallowing your food, mindfulness practices have shown to improve the release of gut hormones that reduce hunger. Another practice that has shown to have a similar effect is to chew each bite thoroughly instead of swallowing your food in huge chunks. Proper chewing also has the added benefit of improving digestion and assimilation of nutrients.
With that, you can decide not to conform to the mainstream unhealthy ways of eating. Your diet can be influenced by lesser yet much more sensible habits in order for you to be the strongest, happiest and healthiest version of yourself.