As a child, my mother often told me that my eyes were bigger than my stomach. I didn’t really understand what that meant, but as I grew older, hit puberty, and recognized that I was the “chubby one” in my group of friends, I started to recognize what the euphemism meant. When I sat down to eat, I wasn’t eating for nutrition to supplement my body with the necessary (and good) vitamins, minerals, proteins, and other nutrients that were necessary to be an active, healthy person. Instead, I was eating for fun! I was eating for taste! And, as a result, I was eating way more than my stomach could handle.
Although there is nothing wrong with eating things that taste good and that you actually enjoy eating, there is a problem with eating too much of these delicious delicacies. At the end of the day, too much of anything can be very bad for you. And in the case of food, too much can also be extremely dangerous.
The key to healthy eating habits and the maintenance of a healthy weight is to remember moderation and portion control. One chocolate chip cookie is not going to kill you, but five of them in one day (on top of whatever else you’ve eaten) is nowhere near healthy. Part of learning the art of portion control is learning to eat with your stomach, not with your eyes.
In order to eat with your stomach, rather than your eyes, you should be sure that you are engaging in what is known as “mindful eating.” Mindful eating means making sure that you eat only when you are hungry, not when you are being gluttonous and lusting after the chocolate frosting on your co-worker’s birthday cake because you just know how good it tastes. Whenever you are tempted, take a moment to step back and ask yourself: “Am I really hungry?” There are a plethora of other reasons why people eat when they are not hungry. From boredom to depression, or just flat out chocolate addiction, the bottom line is that you should be aware of the reasons why you are indulging yourself before you make the decision to eat.
Similarly, don’t gorge yourself when you know that you are full. To avoid going overboard, make sure that you don’t starve yourself. So many people engage in binge eating – skipping meals during the day and eating massive, heavy meals at night to satisfy (what seems to them) insatiable hunger. This is a terrible habit to pick up and can actually leave you gaining more weight! So, no matter how busy you are, make sure that you eat well-porportioned meals throughout the day, snacks included, if you want to ensure a healthy diet and lifestyle! Another tip to keep you from overeating is to make sure that you eat slowly and drink frequently throughout your meal. Taking the time to savor your food will not only increase your overall enjoyment of your meal, it will also help you be more aware of when your stomach has had enough.
If you want to eat healthily, eat with your stomach! Serve yourself the appropriate servings, eat slowly, drink lots of water, and you’ll soon see that feeling great about your body and your health will be a much better reward than the two seconds of deliciousness and the lifetime of depression brought on by that third chocolate brownie. Anyone who has ever been on a diet knows that at first you feel like you are hungry all day long. And while your stomach may be used to the idea of eating large meals every couple of hours, a healthy diet requires balance, and (as I mentioned) moderation. So, keep in mind that it may take some time for your stomach to get used to eating the smaller portions that are required to keep you healthy, and happy. That being said, smaller portions don’t necessarily have to equal hunger.