Many of us go to parties over the holidays. I have six scheduled in seven days leading up to Christmas this year. We tend to eat freely when there is a lot of food options. We want to taste everything!
I am an advocate of restricted calories and balanced nutrition. That means that you eat as few calories as possible to obtain the daily nutritional requirements needed for our bodies.
- Eat more at home. Eating out is convenient and expensive. If you want a New Year’s Resolution that will help you improve your health over your life, learn to cook. You can control the types of foods you eat; and, more importantly, if you buy organic foods, you can control the toxins you eat with each meal.
- Select healthy foods. I mentioned organic above. Proteins delay hunger pangs. Proteins are required in a healthy diet. Vegetarians and vegans have a more difficult time finding non-meat protein sources supplying nutritional balance. Include foods with more fiber. Fiber is not digested in our bodies. Like proteins, fiber delays feelings of hunger.
- Make portion control part of your life. Make a vow at the beginning of the New Year to never use a full-size plate again. This is especially critical when you have ‘all you can eat’ buffet options. Having a smaller plate will result if choosing smaller portions of each type of food.
- Chew and think about it. Horace Fletcher advised the public to chew their food more, much more than you think you should. He was a dominant force in our society at the end of the 19th century. The word, ‘fletcherize’ is used today to describe chewing of food till it is nearly liquified. Finely chewed food is easier to digest, and more nutrients are derived from the same amount of food. Thinking about our foods as we eat them also allows us to derive pleasure from the smaller portions. We can enjoy each bite more. Don’t allow background distractions to interrupt your eating.
- Eat till you are satisfied. If you listen to your body, you will have this feeling of satisfaction about half-way through your meal. Your body has met its eating requirements and tells us that it is time to stop. We might recognize it for a brief moment. Most of us don’t. It is there if you make yourself aware of this feeling of fullness. However, there is food on the plate, or the meal cost a lot, and we don’t want to leave in mid-meal. We continue eating past the point of being sated.
- Act daily to reduce stress. I had a conversation with one of my neighbors this week. He told me that he loves food. It is comforting to him. It is his ‘go to’ activity to reduce stress. He said he doesn’t smoke nor drink, but food was his downfall. He is also in the category called obese. If we continually eat to relieve stress, we will gain weight.
- Supplement with vitamin D3 (VD3). Vitamin D3 is one of the vitamins I cannot get enough of from the foods I eat. Vitamin E (all eight tocopherols and tocotrienols) is another. As is vitamin K2. I supplement where I can’t find foods to give me the nutrient balance. VD3 is critical to our health. It is the sunshine vitamin and most of us avoid the sun. I have a VD3 test (25-hydroxy vitamin D) done annually to ensure I am getting enough VD3. I maintain a level between 50-80 ng/mL.
- Keep your gut happy. Nearly eighty percent of our immune system is in our guts. Our gut is also known as our second brain. Probiotics are live bacteria found in the foods we eat. Prebiotics are like fertilizer we use on our lawns. They improve the overall function of our gut. Eat foods that include both probiotics (Sauer kraut, kimchi, miso, yogurt, sourdough, etc.) and prebiotics (onions, leeks, asparagus, bananas, apples, etc.).
- Get quality sleep daily. Do not eat or drink within three hours of going to bed. Sleep is critical for great health. You can survive short periods of time with little to no sleep, but your health will degenerate over time.
- Expect to eat better. Expectations drive our happiness and our health. A New Year’s Resolution should be drafted in the form of “I expect to eat healthy at every meal.” If you stick with “I want to lose weight.”, you will be disappointed. Form expectations for those things you want in life and focus on the long term.