Health Lifestyle – Chapter 3

Eating Right

Eating right is a learned skill that needs to be practiced consciously and persistently until it becomes a habit.  There are many reasons why we have been eating less healthy as we have become more affluent.  Our lives are more complicated, busy and rushed and to save time we seem to have compromised our healthy eating behavior.     To make matters worse, we seem to overeat in response to stress even when we are not hungry.  We seem to have more cravings, which override the natural feeling of fullness, to certain foods in order to deal with stress.  We have become emotional eaters, feeding our stresses, not our body. Scientists have discovered that an important brain chemical, serotonin, can be altered with food.  Serotonin is responsible for feeling of wellness; it affects mood and how we deal with stress.  High calorie junk foods, sugar containing desserts such as ice cream and cake, fast foods such as pizza and French fries play havoc with our brains serotonin levels.  These foods are considered comfort food for the simple reason that they momentarily boost our serotonin level, and thus, help us feel better.  The problem is that their effect is not long lasting and as our stress returns, we feel the need to eat again and this vicious cycle leads to obesity and malnutrition.

My personal favorite diet to follow is the “Mediterranean Diet” which can be further modified to fit each individual’s nutritional needs.

Here are some general suggestions of how to eat healthier. 

Instruction # 2-2 Healthy Eating Habits:

1-    Identify and avoid food allergies and sensitivities.

2-    Identify and treat conditions that may interfere with digestion and absorption process of your gastrointestinal system including GERD and IBS.

3-    Learn to read food labels for what they contain and choose your food wisely.

4-    When eating out pick healthy light foods from the menu and ask for the calorie count for each food if available.

5-    Eat only when hungry and stop when full.  Pay attention to physical signs of hunger and eat only when hunger is present.  Stop eating about two full spoons before feeling full.

6-    Eat slowly and frequently.  Eat at least three meals a day with mid-morning and mid-afternoon healthy snacks. Eat most of your food calories by midafternoon and keep your dinner light.

7-    Concentrate when eating.  Do not watch TV, read or multitask while eating.  Eat mindfully by exclusively focusing on the food you are eating including its color, texture, flavor and the smell of your food.

8-    Eat with loved ones or friends whenever possible.

9-    Do not eat when angry, bored or anxious since they all can lead to over eating. Before you start eating, develop emotional calmness by practicing some of the relaxation techniques discussed in this book.

10-  Attain and maintain your ideal weight.  Avoid unproven weight-loss fads and “Yo-Yo” dieting. If you are interested in weight loss then start keeping a detailed food diary, discuss your options with an experienced dietitian, and always consult your physician.  Please remember that body’s muscle-fat ratio is a much more accurate determinant of healthy weight than total body weight.

11- Avoid toxins in food by not eating, drinking foods that are stored, heated or cooked in plastic or aluminum containers and cooking utensils.  Detoxify your body, especially liver and the gut, on a regular basis.

Instruction # 2-3 Healthy Nutritional Choices:

1-    Increase the following foods: High -antioxidant containing foods and foods high in fiber such as fruits and most vegetables (except starchy vegetables such as potatoes); omega-3 containing foods such as fish, flaxseed oil and olive oil; nuts such as walnuts and almonds; black and green teas.

2-    Eat a variety of foods including adequate amount of protein and potassium.  If you drink alcohol, limit yourself to one to two drinks.  Avoid alcohol if you have a history or a family history of alcoholism.

3-    Drink plenty of fluids.  Filtered water using reverse osmosis filter or comparable systems is preferred.

4-    Choose foods that are truly organic and are hormone, chemical, pesticide and heavy metal free.

5-    Reduce or eliminate the following foods: simple carbohydrates including sweets; saturated fats including trans- fatty acids; white colored foods such as potatoes, white bread and white rice; and most meats such as red meat.

6-    Nutritional supplements including multivitamins and minerals, omega-3 fatty acids, fiber supplements, etc. can enhance the quality of your nutritional status.  Also, certain herbs such as standardized extract of Valerian root or Chamomile may help reduce stress; however, consult your health provider before taking any herbs or other nutritional supplements. Taking natural fiber supplements before each meal has potential health benefits and may also help to reduce appetite and weight.


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