Category Archives: Food

Do you know how to eat?

You might think this is a silly topic to write a post on. Sure you just put the food into your mouth and you chew it for a bit, swallow it and it goes into your stomach. Done and dusted!

It is not that simple unfortunately. There are a number of factors that go into how we eat and these can impact how we digest and absorb our food and can even derail our attempts at weight loss.

eating on the run

1. Eat slowly
Most of us eat too quickly. We are always in a rush. We scoff down our breakfast before going out the door every morning. We gobble up our dinner afraid that we will never see another meal in our life. This type of eating can present challenges for health, performance and body composition regardless of whether we eat healthy foods or not. Hunger and appetite signals do not kick in for 20 minutes by which time we may have eaten far too much. If we can slow down our eating, we will be more capable of noticing appetite cues and possibly noticing that we are full.
As a challenge, record how long it takes for you to eat your dinner. If it takes 5 minutes, you definitely need to slow down! We should be aiming for 15- 20 minutes. This may not be possible at first but aim to add a minute on to the next meal and gradually increase your meal time from there.

I’ll hold my hand up in this department, I have had to tailor my own eating habits and take my time as I’m quite susceptible to a bit of speed eating. It is not something that comes naturally to me, coming from a large family where being able to eat fast means you would get the extra few scraps that were available!

Helpful tips: Sit down, eliminate distractions, relax. Take smaller bites, chew the food properly. Sip water rather than drinking large gulps.

2. Eat in a calm relaxed manner

Eating when stressed is a very bad habit. We need to take time to eat and digest our food properly. Unfortunately many of us eat in stressful environments. We eat on our way to work, at our desks and when we are doing a myriad of other tasks. When we are stressed, our sympathetic (or fight or flight) nervous system is activated. This increases heart rate, releases energy and prepares the muscles for action. This also slows body processes such as digestion which are less important in emergencies. Our digestive system is not functioning optimally at this moment and any food consumed will not be digested properly.
We may be eating a healthy diet but if we are eating it in a state of stress, our digestive system will not be activated and nutrients will be lost.

When we activate the parasympathetic division, we conserve and restore. The heart rate is slowed and blood pressure is lowered. In this situation, the digestive tract is fully stimulated to process food and eliminate waste.

Helpful tips: Make time to eat in a relaxed and calm manner. Do not eat in a rush. Prioritise eating time.

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What to eat for breakfast?

Most people would have grown up eating a breakfast of cereal with some milk, a slice of toast and a glass of orange juice. This would have been considered a healthy breakfast and would have been and still is the staple meal for many of us before we go to school or to work.
breakfast_border

Unfortunately this type of breakfast most likely is doing more harm than good for our bodies.

The cereal depending on the quality is more than likely full of processed grains and refined sugars with minimal nutritional quality. The milk most commonly used by people is low fat, which is quite processed and has the goodness (the fat) taken out. The fruit juice is basically sugar water, since fibre in the fruit has been removed. The toast again is high glycemic carbohydrate similar to the cereal and fruit juice and contains gluten which some people cannot tolerate.

Eating foods such as these with a high glycemic index (pushes up blood sugar very quickly) in the morning can promote fat storage and can increase hunger levels later in the day.

When we consume foods with a high GI such as these, our blood sugars rises. Insulin is released by the pancreas to take these sugars away and store them until they are needed. If we have been exercising, our muscles and liver have used up their glycogen stores (energy space) and can take up these sugar easily. If more then likely, we have been resting or inactive (as more of us are in the morning!), insulin has no glycogen stores to replenish so the sugar is put into storage to be used at a later stage (fat accumulation).

Another downside of consuming foods with a high GI is it is very difficult to regulate hunger and satiety levels. After eating a high GI food, blood sugars will rise. The insulin kicks into action taking them away. After insulin has done it’s job, our blood sugars will fall and we suddenly feel hungry or crave something. Again we have a snack of a cereal bar or piece of bread to arrest our low sugar levels and suddenly they are up again. This rollercoaster of high and low sugars is very harmful to the body and can lead to fat gain and metabolic disorders such as diabetes.

What should we eat?!
It is best to eat foods that don’t cause a large spike in insulin(low GI foods), that are slowly digested and help stabilise blood sugar levels. This will help you feel full for longer, avoid cravings and make you less likely to overeat during the day. We need to get away from the idea that we should eat cereals for breakfast. This is a notion fabricated by big food companies to make us buy their products.

Protein and fats
Eggs, fish, meat, some fruits and veggies, greek yogurt and berries, nuts and seeds.

If you are used to eating the standard high carb breakfast you may find the above recommendations hard to get your head around. They may be new and difficult to adopt at first but they are extremely effective at helping to lose body fat and improve general health.

Here are some meal suggestions:
2/3 Scrambled eggs with 2 slices of bacon and half an avocado
Salmon fillet, with spinach and tomato sauted in butter
2-3 spoons greek yogurt with mixed berries and a spoon of flax seeds
2 boiled eggs, 2 sausages (80%pork), tomato and mushroom.

This is my own breakfast a few days ago…salmon with avocado, onions and baby tomato. Loads of good fats and plenty of protein.

Breakfast Pic

If you are in a rush…these can be made the night before and put in a lunch box in the fridge:
2 hard boiled eggs
Greek yogurt with blueberries and a handful of seeds
Piece of cheese/tomato wrapped in ham/turkey slices

If you have a low body fat or have exercised prior to breakfast then it is perfectly fine to include some carbohydrates in your breakfast.
Oats, sugar free museli, sweet potatoes are some good choices. These are slow releasing carbohydrates as they contain lots of fibre and will not cause high spikes in our sugar levels.

Now it is up to you.
Have a look at your current breakfast. Is it the reason why you are craving foods, why you cannot control hunger and why you are putting on weight despite eating what is ‘recommended’?

Give the recommendations above a go and I’ve no doubt your energy levels will soar!

Best of luck, thanks for reading and have a nice day!

Philip

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Filed under Breakfast, Food, Health, Nutrition