NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTION? SLOW DOWN

Blake Baxter HHC

It’s 2009. For many people, getting in shape and losing weight will rank high on their list of New Year’s Resolutions. Before you jump into any drastic changes, altering your diet in masochistic acts of self-denial and self-deprivation, allow me to suggest two very simple, easy-to-implement, changes that will help you lose weight and get in shape.

1) Eat Slower. It’s very simple. The slower you eat, the less you eat – without feeling hungry or as if you’ve denied yourself something you enjoy. This is a very simple exercise, and all it takes is two very simple actions:

a. Put your fork down between bites

b. Chew.

That’s it. Most of the time we eat much too quickly, chewing just enough to allow us to swallow, before picking up the next bite and shoveling it in. Slow down. Take a bite, put down your fork, and chew until there is almost nothing solid left in your mouth, then swallow. This allows you to feel full sooner, and digest your food more readily, giving you more energy and power from less fuel. You will find that you are able to eat less without feeling hungry if you just eat slower.

This may take a little adjustment. In the beginning, you may find that you’re not actually as good at chewing as you think you are. You’re jaw may become tired and you may bite your tongue or other parts of your mouth as you eat. You’re out of practice! That’s OK, you’ll adjust quickly. You may also find, when eating with others, that they are done eating much sooner than you are. When I eat lunch with my co-workers, they are usually finished eating in half the time it takes me. And I end up eating less.

There’s no shame in leaving a little food on your plate if you are no longer hungry. Save it for later or dispose of it, it’s better than eating more than you need. When eating at a restaurant, it is almost inevitable (in the United States at least) that you are going to be served more than you need. Food portions in the U.S. are enormous. Don’t be misled, you don’t need that much food at every meal. A supersized “meal” at a fast food establishment will most likely deliver more than enough calories for an entire day’s sustenance.

So, put down your fork between bites and chew your food thoroughly. This will help you gain control over your appetite quickly and effectively.

2) Drink water. Review my article from the May 2008 issue of Better Human. Start to replace sodas and other beverages with water at every meal. Drinking water not only helps you stay hydrated and perform better, it helps you digest your food, feel full, and eliminate empty calories by replacing sugary sodas with something you were actually designed to digest. Also, drinking diet soda is not a substitute for water, just because it may have no calories. Diet soda is filled with artificial ingredients you were not designed to absorb. In addition, some studies have found that simply tasting something sweet, even if it has no calories, creates a carbohydrate craving. This makes it difficult to manage your appetite, and causes your organs to prepare for digestion of carbohydrates when none are being eaten. It’s not nice to fool your body like that.

Most diets will not emphasize the importance of drinking water when you eat and throughout the day. Start to think about where you get your water, and think about investing in a water filtration device or entire system. This doesn’t have to be an expensive endeavor: a basic pitcher-style water filter costs between $15.00 and $40.00, with the filters running about $5.00 a month. This is not a major expense when you consider what a liter of soda costs (both in terms of your pocketbook and your health!)

In addition to your basic water requirements, try some sparkling mineral water, or a club soda with lemon, at your next meal, rather than soda. As an experiment, go to the market and pick up several bottles of different types of mineral waters. Sit, relax and sample each one, as if you were tasting wine. You may be surprised to find that the waters have different tastes and “feels”. Learn to enjoy water, ask for it whenever you eat at a restaurant and always have fresh, filtered water available at home.

Eat more slowly and drink more water. These are two, very simple, low-cost, resolutions you can adopt for 2009. You will find them easy-to-do and infinitely beneficial to your health.

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