As kids, we were given many rules about how to eat healthfully.
- Eat your veggies.
- Clean your plate.
- Drink your milk.
Our parents did the best they could, sharing the best information they had at the time, but the bottom line is that nutrition is a young science…and things have changed A LOT since we were kids.
So a refresher course on eating right seems in order, one that might surprise you if you’ve never questioned your parents’ advice.
Here are 7 rules you need to know about eating right for your body:
1. Listen to your body.
Tuning in to your body is the best way to discover your ideal way of eating (it’s 100% unique to you). Notice which foods give you energy and which ones sap it. Notice which foods boost your mood and which ones leave you feeling down. Keep a food diary for a week to bring awareness to what's going on in your body – and do it again when things inevitably shift and you no longer feel your best.
2. Leave food on your plate.
If you were a picky eater as a kid, you probably heard "you can't leave until you finish every bite" a lot. This approach doesn't work very well for most of us, especially when we're trying to manage our weight. Make a habit of leaving a few bites on your plate at each meal. This gives your brain a chance to catch up with your stomach and notice that you may feel satisfied on less. If you're still hungry 10 minutes later, clean that plate! :)
3. Cravings are your friend.
Most of us think of our cravings as unwanted intruders: My sugar cravings are making me crazy! or I HATE that I always crave a bag of chips as soon as I walk in the door! Next time you crave something, consider why you're having the craving. Are you tired? Stressed out? Lonely? Bored? Or maybe you've been eating a ton of sugar lately and your body is craving balance in the form of salt (or vice versa). Viewing your cravings as information—and nothing more—changes everything.
4. Meditate while you eat.
It's probably not a good idea to show up at your family dinner table "Om-ing;" but with our busy lives, it's easy to view meals as just one more thing on our to-do list. We race through them, shoveling in our food so fast that we don't taste it, let alone enjoy it. Or we distract ourselves by watching TV or reading while we're eating. Not only does this set us up for digestive drama later, but it also makes us more likely to eat more than we should. Mindful eating is a proven weight management technique. Give it a try next time you eat. (It gets easier with practice, I promise!)
5. Calories don't count, so don't count them.
Many of us grew up in an age of obsessive calorie counting. It was all about keeping “calories in” less than “calories out.” We now know that all calories are not equal. When it comes to "calorie counting," quality is more important than quantity…not to mention that, as Dr. Mark Hyman M.D put it, food contains a lot more than just calories. Stick with eating whole foods (i.e., anything WITHOUT a nutrition label) and you can eat as much as you want (almost).
6. Skip the milk.
Some people are convinced that dairy is the only source of dietary calcium. To be fair, dairy is a good source; but it's not the only one. If you hate milk or just don't love how you feel when you eat dairy, try adding these non-dairy, calcium-rich whole foods into your diet: dark leafy greens (spinach, kale, collards, broccoli), beans (especially white beans and soy beans), sardines, or salmon.
7. Eating right won't help you lose weight.
Eating the right foods for your body certainly helps, but weight management is about more than food. All of my clients whose primary goal is weight loss begin to lose weight only when they focus less on food and more on living a happier life. I promise you: if you have more fun, get enough sleep, make time for yourself, and nurture your relationships, you will lose weight. If I'm wrong, shoot me an email and we'll figure out what's getting in the way.
Take these new food rules for a spin and let me know how it goes!
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