New year, new eating habits in 4 steps

New year, new eating habits in 4 steps

When it comes to taking a new approach to healthy eating, especially after gaining a few kilos during the holidays, it’s not just what you eat that counts, it is also the way you eat.

Do you find yourself grabbing food on the run? Or skipping meals and then when you realise this you end up eating far too much?

The start of a new year seems to be the perfect time for resolutions such as positive changes to your eating habits. Don’t forget: eating habits affect your general health.

The right portions

To begin with, you must choose the correct size portions. The most effective and easiest way to do this is to use your hands to control your portion sizes.

Hand-cupping – your hands for your stomach: in the photo, you can see the most effective way of measuring the amount of food that is right for you – cup your hands together, and your hands will guide you in the correct amount for your stomach.

While this quantity might seem to be too little, if you were to pile your entire meal into your cupped hands and then spread it onto a plate, you would see that it is more than enough.

Smaller bowls and plates

If you use smaller plates and bowls, you will reduce food portions substantially. When we use large plates we tend to eat more than we need, which does not help. Be honest with yourself, eat consciously and only what you need.

Eating consciously

How often are you aware of what you are eating? Most of us tend to eat on the run, without a proper time to enjoy the meal, eating rapidly, in a loud environment and without concentrating.

The message that the brain sends via the vagus nerve to the stomach to let us know that we have had enough goes largely unnoticed.

Usually this message takes 20 minutes to get from our brain to our stomach. As a consequence we eat more than we need and we are simply not aware of this.

Chewing your foods

Did you know that your digestion starts in your mouth? For this reason, take sufficient time to ensure that enzymes in your mouth (secreted by the parotid glands which are situated at the base of the mouth, and are mixed with saliva), combine with the food that you are chewing, breaking it down and making it easier to swallow. These are the four simple steps to get you started to improve your health.

In my next article, I will discuss how the various foods should be divided into correct portions, creating a correct balance between macronutrients (carbohydrates, fats and proteins), all of which should be included in each main meal.

Enjoy it!

By Ana Rita Horta

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Ana Rita Horta is a Dietitian at the Hospital Particular do Algarve