Welcome to the end of winter and the beginning of spring. My tulips and daffodils are popping up out of the ground after a long winter sleep. Spring is time for renewal, cleaning out the old, creating the new. During the month of April, I want to talk about habits. Good habits to create and habits I need to exorcise from my daily routine. The four deadly habits I will be covering in this series are:
- Eating slowly
- Fast foods
- Too much television
- Not enough exercise
I’m sure many of you battle with at least one of these with on a daily basis. Maybe we can learn together to successfully change and therefore, live a healthier life.
Habit 1, Eating Slowly
Most medical experts agree, chewing your food slowly and methodically gives our brain a chance to know you have eaten enough to provide your body sustenance. Our bodies are complicated organisms running information to each organ with hormones and nerves. The three biggies running our hunger are:
- Leptin, a protein created in our fat cells, telling our body how much energy we have. When our body is running correctly, leptin will decrease our hunger when we have enough energy. Too little leptin, we are excessively thin. Too much, we become obese.
- Ghrelin, is a hormone released into the stomach to increase hunger. Normally, it increases before mealtime letting us know it’s time to replenish. Then, after eating, it decreases for about 3 hours.
- The vagus nerve runs from your brain to your abdomen. Leptin runs messages through the vagus nerve saying “hey, we have enough energy stored here. Start storing the left over into the fat cells so we can have more leptin.” If things somehow get out of sync, your hormones are telling your brain you are hungry and need more energy. Then the other guys are saying hey wait, we have enough, slow down the metabolism and store the extra in the fat.
Foremost, I am not a medically trained expert, just a person who has battled obesity her entire adult life. My personal belief is that as we grow into beings wanting to be noticed and a have a cultural desire to be thin. For whatever reason, we start dieting at a young age believing we are overweight. We search the magazines or the internet, looking for a shortcut to become that attractive being we see on TV and the movies.
We find that shortcut and start eating nine banana’s on Monday, nine oranges on Tuesday and nine hard boiled eggs on Wednesday. Or we eat a constant diet of lemon juice and cayenne pepper. We lose the weight, we look good, but we feel like crap, but who cares. We’re loooookin’ good.
Then, we get hungry, suffer a disappointment, or guilt. We gulp down junk and the cycle begins again.
By chewing and eating more slowly, our body and our brain start remembering how to sync up, slow down, get things right. Most of the information I have read recommend the following steps to learn to eat more slowly:
- Make meal time an occasion. Sit down. Turn off the TV or remove yourself from the room where the TV is on. Enjoy and focus on each bite. Savor the flavors.
- Put your utensils down after each bite. Again, chew slow, taste the food before swallowing.
- Unless you have had weight loss surgery, have a glass of water with your food, sipping between bites. This will help you fill up faster.
- Take a minimum of 20 minutes.
Homework for the Week
Get the kitchen table or the bar top in the kitchen set up for meals. Find a slow moving play list. Sit down, eat, and enjoy each meal. This is going to be hard. I usually dish up my parents meal, take it out to them, then come back to the kitchen, dish up mine, sit down, watch something on Prime or Hulu, gulp it down, and go off and start up a game of Civ 6.
Sitting everyone down at the table is a no go. The dining room chairs are too low for my parents to easily get in and out of. Besides, they eat their meals slowly and its not of a concern. Me, its shutting off the tablet and enjoying my meal. Then do something constructive that doesn’t include a video game or streaming video. Maybe a walk now that the snow is gone.
Will you join me this week?