Eat to live, or live to eat?

The latter resonates very strongly with me. For as long as I can remember, my life has revolved around food. Nourishment. The social experience. Comfort. The sensory buzz. The abundance of quality and exciting ingredients in so many different locations…food has never been a boring commodity as far as I am concerned.

I unashamedly proclaim that I love food and I live to eat!

Of course, with abundance comes responsibility. Not just to yourself, but to your family and other dependants. The flow on effect of your health reaches further than you may realise. Your employees need you healthy to keep bringing in their supply of work. Your clients need you healthy to optimise the quality of your service or product to them. Your children need you healthy so that you can actively participate and grow their lives, and their friends need you healthy so that their teammate can get to footy on time!

Food has been the scapegoat for many ‘fat related’ conditions. Unfortunately, casting blame onto that which we consume robs us of the ability to enjoy food without guilt. It’s not the food’s fault that it’s so delicious and inviting! It’s actually our decision to overconsume.

So here are some tips to reduce consumption whilst improving the experience of eating:

  1. Taste your food! Enjoy each bite from the moment it enters your mouth until you swallow it down. Chew it well and appreciate the flavours.
  2. Drop the utensils. No – I’m not suggesting anything European! Just advocating for putting your fork down between mouthfuls. This allows for the above point to take place, and reduces your focus on getting the next mouthful ready before you’ve finished the last.
  3. Turn off the TV. Distractions from your food can suppress internal signals of fullness. There is a textural component to appetite satiety – the experience of feeling food in your mouth contributes to averting hunger. This sensory component of satiety is delayed by either eating too quickly or by being distracted. This means that you are likely to consume more when you are not engaged with your food.
  4. Become a ‘Crokery Minimalist’! Use smaller plates. Studies have shown that if you can see more food, you are more likely to eat more food regardless of whether you need it. If it’s on the plate, than it’s more likely to get eaten. Reduce your serving size and pack up any leftovers before you’ve had your meal.
  5. Understand emotion. Emotional eaters turn to food for the pleasure, not the nutrition, to achieve a sense of reward. With emotional stress, appetite signals become suppressed in order to satisfy a higher emotional requirement, which is why consumption of an innocent row of chocolate can quickly become a whole block! Undertake a journey of self-empowerment by rewarding yourself with things other than food – this will take time and probably more blocks of chocolate until you find your individual strategies for reward, but be aware and continue learning about yourself.
  6. Get Adequate sleep. Regarding satiety, inadequate sleep leads to the release of the hormone ghrelin. Remember this one because it makes a ‘grrrrr’ sound if you prolong it’s pronunciation – and that’s what it causes your stomach to do! If you are underslept, you are prone to eating more.
  7. Befriend protein. This nutrient signals fullness more effectively than any other. You need not eat lots, just eat frequently – that is – ensure a small to moderate serving of a good protein source (including eggs, nuts and seeds) at each meal.

Remember food is not our enemy. It is a requirement of every human being and should be enjoyed in adequate amounts. Achieving this is a balancing act of numerous factors, but taking on an understanding of fullness and appetite can lead to a renewed enjoyment of food. Happy eating!


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