Food is C-O-M-F-O-R-T-I-N-G and (health food faddists out there, are you ready for this???) it’s okay. Denying the comfort we find in food (the passion and the pleasure) will only make weight loss harder to manage. Eating smarter to be healthier is a good time to fill in the blanks left by food with other types of comfort (this is where it gets a little touchy-feely)… Sit in the sun on the grass. Buy some flowers. Get a hug or give one. Get a massage. Go see an acupuncturist. Have an aromatherapy session. Learn to knit. Do things with your hands that bring the rest of the body to life. In short, touch and be touched. We crave food because it is the catalyst for a myriad of physical responses. Once we have become addicted to having those bodily buttons pushed, the desire to continue to have them pushed does not magically vaporize because the mind has told the body that less food will be on the menu that day.
Another technique to consider during weight loss is to consume food and fluid between room and body temperature. Hot and cold foods both bring the body to mild states of shock that effect digestion. Hot foods scald the delicate tongue and oesophagus which are the beginning of the digestive system. Cold foods negatively impact the nerve endings in teeth, gums and the stomach. The body exerts precious energy trying to bring foods that are too hot or too cold to body temperature in order to digest them.
Chew! Chew! Chew! Your body is so amazing! We have teeth designed to make hard foods into mash so that our very soft stomach can easily absorb the nutrients and pass foods along to our intestines. We also have a lovely little digestive aid called hydrochloric acid that helps our wonderful little stomach breakdown food. Hydrochloric acid by the way is considered corrosive and fatal if swallowed so we have checks and balances in the body to monitor it. That’s why the acid causes disorders like acid reflux and ulcers when it escapes the stomach. It’s there to assist in breaking down the food that our teeth could not manage alone (like fur and bones). It is not meant to replace what parents around the world tell children - chew your food properly!
Eat and drink slowly, you do become fuller sooner. For one day - try not eating when tired, angry, frustrated, stressed or listening to someone else complain. Eat when you are already in good spirits, not desiring food or legitimately hungry. Check-in with your body to see if there’s a difference in how the food tastes and the way eating feels.
Water is the most important factor in eating for health and well-being. Drink two cups before getting out of bed, two cups before getting into bed, two cups before you start any type of work, two cups in the evening and you will already have had eight cups of water. This is a lot of fluid. The goal is to make the water run right out of your system and take toxins with it through sweat and other types of elimination.
In general, eat less food that are very dense and take a long time to digest - meats, fried foods, charred foods and processed foods. Foods that are mucus forming will also make weight loss difficult. These foods include white starches and sugars, some diary and soy. An easy rule of thumb is to avoid the eight foods that have the most reported allergic responses - fish, peanuts, wheat, soy, tree nuts, eggs, milk and shellfish.
Lastly, these thoughts on eating smarter for weight loss are just that - thoughts. It is not meant to replace good old fashioned advice from a board certified medical practitioner.
T. I. Williams - New York based writer, activist, chef educator, is the founder of SIP, a natural foods company that promotes making food that’s good for you and tastes great.