Tips on what and how to eat
It’s difficult to draw a line between right and wrong eating. Is there even a correct way to eat, or a right food to eat at the right time? With all kinds of celebrity-approved detoxes and fasts taking the internet by storm, there’s no shortage of options when it comes to the topics of diet and health. But without the strict surveillance of a nutritionist or a tailor-made meal plan, there’s still plenty of room for confusion.
That’s just the way the body is. It’s a living, breathing riddle––and its answers vary from person to person.
Thankfully, the countless columns and success stories in existence have given us lots of insight. While we might not have the perfect solution to achieving prime health and well-being, we do have the next best thing: 10 tried and tested guidelines for making the most of your meals, eating well and keeping your body in check.
Get rid of all distractions
If you still hear your parents nagging you about how cellphones aren’t allowed at the dinner table, you might want to turn your mind’s ear towards the general direction of their voices. Keeping books closed, the TV switched off and mobile phones at a distance can keep your focus on what’s important: your food and how much of it you’re eating.
Always sit down for meals
Sit your butt down. While we’re all guilty of munching on our café-bought sandwiches between appointments or sneaking in one last bite before that meeting that is bound to stretch on for hours, carving out the time to actually sit down for meals is bound to be a good investment of your time. Your body is less likely to forget that you had lunch and automatically go on snack-hunting mode if you take the time to savor your meals.
Remember: bigger isn’t always better
Anybody who has seen any sort of cooking show would know how significant plating is. That importance still stands, even outside the restaurant context. A bigger plate equates to more space to fill with food and if you aren’t mindful, this logic could cause you to eat more than necessary. Instead, use a full-sized plate for your biggest meal of the day and use smaller ones for other meals to limit your portions.
Take your time with each bite
Some people count the number of times they chew a mouthful of food before swallowing it. While measures that mindful aren’t imperative, make a habit of relishing each bite. Sometimes we inhale our food too fast for us to realize we aren’t even hungry anymore, so take this as a preventive measure to keep yourself from unnecessarily reaching for seconds.
Water: drink and eat it
Staying hydrated is a must, but downing a glass of water every few hours isn’t the only way to go about it. Fruits and vegetables pack a hydrated punch, so be sure to load up on leafy greens and colorful produce.
Drinks: keep them simple
Put the frilly cocktail down. It’s a hard pill to swallow but drinks can be traitorous little sneaks that conceal copious amounts of sugar behind a colorful façade and the occasional mini paper umbrella. Frappuccinos are no better, either. Keep your drinks nice and simple. If you can manage, choose to have your alcohol on the rocks or your coffee black. If you need to cushion the blow a little, go for something like a gin and tonic (arguably the fitness-conscious person’s drink of choice) or add a spoonful of non-fat milk and your sweetener of choice to your morning cup.
Don’t count your calories
It’s definitely possible to survive on 1000- or 1,200-calorie per day, but to maintain that daily limit for the rest of your life? Chances are slim. Instead of strictly counting calories, commit to making smarter, healthier choices. Work this consistent state of consciousness into your lifestyle.
Observe how certain foods make you feel
We all respond to certain kinds of food differently. For instance, some of my friends can eat as much white rice as they’d like while having more than half a cup of it makes me feel bloated and weirdly lethargic post-meal. One of my best friends lives on regular Coca Cola––I’m convinced it flows through her bloodstream at this point––while I avoid having more than a sip of the stuff in fear of turning into an uncontrollable gas machine. In the same way, certain foods can make us happier or put us in a better headspace, too. Take note of how different kinds of food make you feel to get a better grasp of what ingredients to look for and avoid.
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Define your non-negotiables
The only thing standing between me and marrying a bag of Hint of Lime Tostitos is the law. There are some guilty pleasures that we just can’t give up no matter how much we try. It’s important to discover what these non-negotiables are, so instead of depriving yourself of them, you can make up for it by sacrificing other things.
Remember that it’s okay to treat yourself
I came across an article about a weight loss program called the 3-hour reset rule. While the pound-shedding method didn’t quite stick with me so much, one quote from the article did. On working treats into meal plans, fitness trainer Tiffany Hall says, “A treat will never make a difference to your progress, but a binge will.” Binge eating in the midst of what could be a successful diet is extremely counter-productive––a classic example of two steps forward, one huge, guilt-laden step back. Buy a cookie but enjoy it throughout the day instead of chomping down the whole thing in one go. Help yourself to a smoothie before or after a good workout. Don’t restrict, moderate.
Art Alexandra Lara.