You know that friend who seems to just eat the food that she wants, when she wants, and never seems to be on a diet and looks great? No, she’s not taking diet pills, she may just know how to eat.
I’m not talking about rules or diet plans, I’m talking ways of being while eating. You may not know it, but how you feel and what state your body and emotions are in while you’re eating can absolutely effect your weight, appetite, and digestion.
My detox and nutrition clients ask me how to eat without obsessing about calories or ingredients and I teach them how to be while they’re eating.
Here are my top 11 tips to help you eat food, enjoy it, and love the skin you’re in every day:
1. Eat when you're hungry.
Next time you feel like eating, ask if your desire for food is coming from your mind or from your body. If your brain is looking for an escape, find another non-caloric activity that helps you feel good. If food was the answer to boredom, get engaged in something fun. If food was the answer to exhaustion, rest your eyes, stretch, drink water, or take a break. If you're hungry, eat.
2. Don’t eat when you’re stressed out, emotional, angry, worried or upset.
Your digestion works when you’re relaxed, not when you’re upset. You can either digest or be stressed, not both.
3. Eat (mostly) real food, not food “products” or anything that you couldn’t make at home.
OK, you might not be an amazing baker, but you could probably whip up some gluten-free, naturally sweetened cupcakes, right? Could you make a Twinkie without professional, industrial equipment? Nope.
4. Avoid foods you don’t like, even if you think you should eat them.
Your body and brain will rebel and ask for treats later because you were “so good” and ate that dandelion green salad. Instead, have the red bell pepper or green beans and your body will be less likely to have a tantrum.
5. Skip foods that are overcooked, undercooked, over-salted, overly sweet, or just badly cooked.
Avoid badly cooked foods, which usually means learning how to cook simple foods for yourself at home, or eating at quality places. When you eat food that’s cooked well, by people who love to cook, it tastes better and feels better.
6. Eat mostly fresh foods.
Meals from frozen, packaged or canned containers aren’t vital and enlivening. They don’t have as many nutrients, and they’re usually overly salted and limp. Give yourself the fresh stuff.
7. Skip the iced water or cold drink before and during a meal.
This means asking for water with no ice at most American restaurants. Frigid liquid inhibits the digestive fire and slows digestion.
8. Eat with people you like, where you like.
Eating is an intimate act. We take nourishment into our bodies with the food, and conversation that comes with it. Choose your lunch and dinner partners by asking yourself who feels good to be around. If you can’t find anyone nice to eat with, go eat outside or look out the window.
9. Avoid watching TV when you eat.
Not only will you eat more calories when you zone out, but many TV shows trigger negative, stressful emotions that mess up our digestion. Reality TV especially causes us to judge the contestants and ourselves, which makes our bodies feel stressed. Remember: Your digestive system shuts down when you’re stressed out: you can either digest or be stressed, but you can’t do both. (See Rule #2)
10. Stop eating when you’re full.
Feeling uncomfortably stuffed after a meal negates any pleasure you would have gotten from the meal. If your stomach was a bucket, eat until you're at 70%. This is nourished, but not too full. Save any leftovers for later, when you'll enjoy them more.
11. Breathe, chew and slow down.
How long do you take to eat your meals? Double it. Each meal should take 30 to 45 minutes to eat. This is easier to do when you sit at a table rather than at your desk or on the couch. Chewing until your food is almost liquid helps you digest better and absorb the most nutrients.