3 Ways to Eat Smarter
Nutrition is the most important factor in overall health and wellness. We are constantly told what foods we should and shouldn’t eat. However, we are rarely ever told HOW to eat. The way that we eat our food can have a great impact on what we actually digest and absorb.
Rule #1: Proud Posture In a world where sitting 10-12 hours has become the norm, we need to be more mindful and conscious of how we sit. For some healthy alternatives to sitting, refer back to my previous article here.
Whether we’re sitting at a desk, on a couch, in a car, or at a restaurant, we have the natural tendency to slouch and sink into the chair. This has a particularly nasty effect when we’re eating because it puts unwanted pressure on our digestive organs such as the stomach, intestines, and liver. The GI (gastrointestinal) tract is 26 feet long and designed to break down and extract nutrients. This whole process gets disturbed if we repeatedly put unwanted stress on our GI.
To understand the right and wrong way to sit when eating your next meal, check out this video!
Rule #2: Chew your Food Sounds simple enough, right? Well, let’s get a little nerdy and dive into some science. By chewing more, we produce more saliva which is made of amylase and lipase—the enzymes that are responsible for breaking down carbohydrates and fats, respectively. It makes perfect sense that having more of these enzymes present while eating will help us break down our food more easily. In addition, chewing longer triggers a release of leptin to the brain which signals that we are satiated and no longer need to eat. Researchers in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics explain, “Eating slowly contributes to a lower risk of obesity, probably because it aids appetite control. “ We eat our food so fast that the stomach doesn’t have time to signal to the brain that we are full, so what do we do?
We keep eating! Maybe that’s why over 100 million Americans (roughly 30%) are living with Diabetes or Prediabetes and 1 in 3 Americans are obese (compared to only 12% in the 1960’s).
In addition to the geeky stuff, there is also the more common sense approach. Chewing our food thoroughly allows us to actually taste all of the deliciousness and appreciate the goodness in every bite. We get so caught up with the grind that we CHOOSE to scarf down our food with zero intention rather than appreciating and savoring each bite.
[Quick side-note: my 3rd “rule” was going to be “Eat Until Satisfied, Not Until Full.” However, if we can consciously chew our food more, I’m confident that the issue of over-eating will dramatically decrease.]
Rule #3: Don’t Watch Sports or the News This might be the most random thing you’ve heard all day… “Why are you trying to take my life away, Jeremy?” I feel your pain as this has definitely been the hardest habit for me to personally adapt to. Almost all of us are guilty of watching tv while we eat, which is why I’m not suggesting “Don’t Watch Anything” …at least not yet.
The reason I suggest avoiding sports and the news while eating is because they both evoke a highly emotional response. This response activates our sympathetic nervous system, which shuts down digestion. It seems logical that the last thing we’d want to do while eating is shut off our digestive path.
Relating back to our previous “rule”, Penn State researcher Leann Birch says “the problem itself doesn’t come from watching television but rather the eating without paying attention to the amount, the taste, etc.” When we our unconsciously consuming information and content via phones, tv’s, and laptops, we are much less likely to eat mindfully and chew our food. It all goes hand in hand.
My dream is that someday we will avoid relying on screens to entertain us while we eat. Perhaps, we may even engage in a real conversation with the people sitting with us. (If you’re eating alone, then just talk to yourself or write down some thoughts, reminding yourself how fortunate you are for the food on your plate.)
If you made it this far into the article without grabbing a bag of chips or skittles, I am thoroughly impressed and want to express my gratitude for your support. Send me an e-mail here and I will send you some E3 swag!