Sunday, April 12, 2009

New Year, New You- Eating, Part 2

In Part 1, I talked about eating and made suggestions on how to track, and improve your eating habits. However, for some people understanding how to eat, what to eat, and even proper portion sizes is still a mystery. So let’s put it all on the table.

Daily requirements.
Our diets should include fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grain cereals and breads, beans and legumes, seeds and nuts, honey, and milk or milk alternatives. For those of you who eat meat the suggestion is to eat chicken, fish and eggs that are organic or free range. Note: Avoid red meat and processed meat because they sit in the intestines and clog up the elimination process, which also backs up the arteries and causes high cholesterol, high blood pressure, strokes, and heart attacks. If you just gotta have red or processed meat, the best advice is to eat it in moderation and not as apart of your daily diet.

Portion Sizes
There is such a bigger is better mentality in most of our lives. And our attitudes about portions have gone from way beyond what the body can handle. We have this entitlement mentality that we can eat whatever and however we want. We can super-size our meals and think in most cases that we should. Our sodas are 16 to 24 oz now. Our bagels are bigger and contain 5 times more calories as one piece of toast. Our coffee has gone up to 12oz for a small. Even alcoholic beverages have upped their sizes to keep up with our need for more.

So, if you curious, here is a great way to see and know how much is really too much.

½ Cup is about the size of half a baseball (pudding cup)
1 Cup is roughly the size of a small fist (yogurt container, orange)
1 oz is about the size of your pinky or a 1-inch cube (cheese stick or sandwich slice)
3 oz is roughly the size of a deck of cards (small burger patty or chicken breast)
6 oz looks like a restaurant burger, split chicken breast or a typical lunch portion
4 fl oz is the amount in a kid’s milk carton
12 fl oz is the amount in a standard can of beer or soda (it was 8oz when I was a kid)

Here are some additional tips. These tips are a combination of expert advice and things that work for me and my yoga class attendees.

Water. It is suggested that we drink 8-10 8oz glasses of water a day. Water helps improve your energy level. It helps remove toxins from the body. And our body is 70 percent water so it is important to keep our water intake high to aid our body’s systems.

Chew your food well. Digestion starts in the mouth. If we are gulping down our food we are forcing the stomach to do more work than it is equipped to do.

Eat slowly. If you eat slowly your body digests better and gets the opportunity to use more of your food for fuel. Also, you can avoid problems with digestion.

Eat in moderation. Overeating will leave you feeling bloated and tired. When you overeat it takes about 90-95 percent of your body’s energy to digest your food, which is why you feel so tired. When you eat proper portions it should only take from 15-30 percent of your energy for digestion.

Try not to drink with your meal. This one has been up for debate for a while, but the thought is that you are diluting the stomachs digestive fluids, which will require more time to breakdown foods.

Avoid eating late. The body has a cycle of digestion, assimilation, and elimination. When we eat late, it throws off the cycle. Also, when you eat late and then go to bed your body’s energy is not focused on resting, which can leave you feeling tired in the morning. And when digestion doesn’t happen properly that can have harmful effects like weight gain, and digestive problems.

Focus on what you are doing. Many of us are not mindful when we are eating. We say the same grace and commence to eat. But try paying attention to what you are eating from the textures, the flavors, on to the smell. Is this the best you can offer your body? Try to offer some type of gratitude because you are after all nourishing your body and mind and there are many who don’t have any food to eat.

Fasting. Everything needs a rest, and that includes your digestive system. When you fast you allow the body to focus the energy that is used for digestion (15-30 percent for moderate eaters 90-95 for heavy eaters) on refreshing other areas of the body. There are several types of fasts that include water only, water and juice, fresh juices, and fruit. However, before you choose to fast read up on ways to start and finish so the body can have a smooth transition. See my blog “New Year, New You-Fasting”

Eating is important. Let’s take time to give some of our attention to the way we nourish our body and give ourselves the room we need to make improvements.