Feel good food habits
It turns out that eating healthily is all about learning a few simple tricks. Dalton Wong and Kate Faithfull-Williams share the magic
E A T ➮ Eating a more plant-based, less processed diet not only gives your body a steady supply of energy, but eating clean, nutritious food makes that energy more available to your brain, which can strengthen your willpower. More nuts, less chicken nuggets.
P L A N ➮ Being busy screws with your self-control. Planning puts willpower back in the game, so even when you’re rushed, you can make effortlessly good food choices. Keep a stash of hard-boiled eggs in the fridge to keep you going when you’ve got more than four hours between meals. This feelgood snack contains amino acids, which dilate blood vessels so oxygen flows more easily and you’ll find it easier to tick off your to-do list on a busy day. Almonds are a great snack to stash in your handbag as they are high in a heart-healthy fat called oleic acid that can boost memory.
BE SUBTLE➮ Change ‘I can’t’ to ‘I don’t’. Why? ‘I can’t eat crisps’ means ‘I’m not allowed to eat crisps’ – and forbidden foods are impossibly desirable. Give your willpower a fighting chance by saying, ‘I don’t eat crisps.’ Because you’re actually saying, ‘I prefer not to eat crisps; they don’t make me feel good.’ The difference may be subtle, but it's empowering.
R E B R A N D ➮ If you describe yourself as a latte lover or a fried chicken fiend, people will constantly push those temptations in front of you. They think they’re doing you a favour. Do yourself a favour and rebrand. Tell friends you’re obsessed with green juice, because you can practically feel those antioxidants replenishing your body. When you’re choosing where to go for dinner, tell your partner you’ve got a thing about grass-fed steak. When you talk the talk, it naturally follows that you walk the walk.
B R E A T H E ➮ Learning how to manage your stress better, even if it’s just taking a few deep breaths when you feel tempted, is one of the most important things you can do to improve your self- control. So as you stare at a counter full of glazed pastries, take a few deep breaths to gather your willpower and order a feelgood fix instead. Black coffee sweetened with a dash of cinnamon or a piece of fresh fruit with some raw nuts will see you right.
￼MUM TIP ‘Ask the obvious. ‘Am I hungry?’ If you are, eat. Your pattern is different to a small child’s – their little stomachs mean they need to eat little and often. But remind yourself that you don’t need to snack every time they do. So if you're not hungry, make a cuppa, then sit down at the table and chat while they eat.’
SEVEN WAYS TO SATISFY YOUR HUNGER
EAT WHEN YOU’RE CALM Eating while stressed can make it more difficult for your body to absorb vitamins and minerals, which means that you’re not getting any goodness from your food. Rapid, stressed-out eating leads to bloating, wind, stomach cramps and diarrhoea. Nice! It can also make you overeat, as you push food into your mouth so fast that you don’t realise you’re full before your waistband cuts painfully into your stomach. When you know that you’re feeling ‘hangry’ (that’s so hungry, you’re angry), calm down before you eat by kneading the fleshy part between your thumb and forefinger for 30 seconds. Even a short hand massage will lower your heart rate and lessen anxiety.
ALIGN YOUR EYES WITH YOUR STOMACH We tend to serve portions according to how big our plates are, not how hungry we are. Break this habit by serving yourself two-thirds of your normal portion – you can always have the rest if you need a top-up, but the chances are this will be enough to satisfy your hunger.
EXPRESS GRATITUDE FOR YOUR FOOD Give thanks for what you are about to devour and your meal will taste better and feel more satisfying in every way. Out loud, observe all the colours and delicious textures of your food, and thank the cook (especially if that’s you). Internally, pay attention to the ways in which your meal will nourish your body: think about how that roast beef will give you iron for strength, or how the vitamin C in your blueberries will help you feel calmer. It will help you appreciate what you are eating so much more.
CHEW, CHEW, CHEW Chewing releases more nutrients from food. Start munching at least ten times before you swallow and work up to doubling that number. Slim people will chew each mouthful an average of 21 times. Breaking down food in your mouth like this helps your stomach signal fullness to your brain more quickly.
EAT IN SLO-MO Put your knife and fork down between mouthfuls to break the hand-to-mouth flow when you eat. If you’re right-handed, try eating with your left hand, and vice versa, to help slow your pace.
EAT WITH ALL OF YOUR SENSES This trick stops you filling up on so-so food that gives you little physical or emotional satisfaction. How does your food look? How does it smell? Note its texture and the sound it makes as you chew. Appreciating your food means you get more enjoyment from eating, and it slows down your mealtime so your body has time to recognise when you are full.
PRIORITISE YOUR PLATE Your mum’s not watching, and there is no law that says you have to finish everything on your plate. You can only comfortably fit so much in your stomach, so fill it up with healthy foods such as vegetables and lean protein, and leave extras that might make you feel painfully overfull