Pay Attention to Your Food

by Gayle Cottrill

Most of us understand the importance of having a healthy diet. We know that we should eat more fruits and vegetables and limit our consumption of junk food. What might not be talked about as much is that how we eat is just as important as what we eat. Below are four things that we can do to help ensure that our meals have a more positive impact on our health.

Eat slowly

It can be tempting to eat quickly in our fast-paced world, but it’s important to slow down and take your time when it comes to eating your meals. It takes around 20 minutes after you start eating for your brain to signal that you’re full. If you eat too fast you run the risk of overeating, which can lead to obesity. In addition to overeating, some studies have suggested that eating too quickly can increase your risk of poor digestion and insulin resistance which in turn could lead to heart disease and diabetes. If you are a fast eater, try taking smaller bites, finish chewing completely before your swallow, take drinks of water between bites, and try to make your meals last at least 20 to 30 minutes.

Eat more, earlier

Eating in the morning boosts energy and metabolism. Getting in a full meal early in the day also helps you eat less later. Studies have shown that people who eat a good breakfast every day maintain or lose weight, whereas people who eat the most at night tend to gain weight. This is because our metabolism fluctuates throughout the day and begins to slow as the day wears on. Generally, you should stop eating a couple hours before you sleep so that you give yourself time to burn calories. Eating between meals, especially if they are healthy snacks, keeps us energized and less ravenous throughout the day too, which can also help you eat fewer calories later when it’s time to wind down and go to bed.

Eat your vegetables first

Eat the healthiest part of your meal first. If, like me, you enjoy a nice bowl of pasta at dinner, having a salad beforehand can help you eat less carbs and more leafy greens. If your plate is more varied, still start by eating your vegetables. By eating the food that is the best for you first (and remembering to eat slowly) by the time you get to the other parts of dinner, you will already be getting full and won’t eat as much of the food that is less good for you.

Eat mindfully

When we surround ourselves with distractions like television, cell phones, and work while we eat, it is more difficult to pay attention to what our body needs, and what it doesn’t. Just like with eating your food too quickly, if you’re not paying attention to your food, you are more likely to overeat. Studies have shown that allowing ourselves to fully experience our meals, analyze the textures and flavors of our food, and pay attention to how we feel while we eat can lead to less overeating, less weight gain, more enjoyment at meal time, and a healthier you.