Preparation is key

ThinkstockPhotos-472081277smallDr Cummings recommends getting organised when it comes to preparing your food so that you can be ready for those moments when you are so hungry you would eat anything and lots of it.

Helpful tips for being organised:

  • plan ahead and pre-organise your weekly dinner meals
  • write a shopping list and shop to this list
  • if you are really time poor, have your groceries delivered to your home
  • buy bagged, pre-washed veggies such as spinach, cherry tomatoes or pre-prepared salads or mixed frozen vegetables which are a very easy option
  • alternatively, buy your vegetables in bulk and have a pre-chopping session (you can even get the kids involved) – wash, chop and store each meal’s vegetables. A stir fried meat and vegetable dish can be made quickly if your vegetables are ready to throw into the pan.
  • bulk cook meals such as wholesome soups or stews so you have an easy to heat meal when you are short on time
  • pack your lunch box with plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, a yoghurt or portion-controlled nuts

Once your healthy meals are planned, you can take the time to enjoy your food.

“Managing your stress is a huge part of eating well,” Dr Cummings says.

“When we are stressed, it can lead to mindless eating, we may increase our speed of eating and no longer pay attention to what goes into our mouths.”

Eating for well-being can be improved by reconnecting the mind and body and taking time to create an awareness to our internal cues of hunger and satiety.

Dr Cummings states that learning to cope with challenging emotions, such as anger, stress, anxiety, despair and loneliness, without using food, is an essential part of developing a better relationship with food.

“Slowing down and making mealtimes a positive part of daily life can lead to less weight gain and better overall health.”

Tips for healthy eating include:

  • being mindful of what, when, how and why you are eating
  • sitting and relaxing over each meal
  • eating slowly – chewing each mouthful and enjoying the taste of your food
  • paying attention to how you are feeling whilst eating (are you truly hungry?)
  • having a little break from eating every 2-3 minutes so you can check in with your body’s signals (set a timer or use a mobile phone app e.g. Eat Slower)
  • considering how much food you serve onto your plate
  • asking yourself how you feel after you have finished your meal – comfortable / satisfied / stuffed full?

Dr Cummings also stresses the importance of getting enough sleep.

“Studies[1] have shown that when we are sleep deprived, we eat foods higher in fat and sugar and we eat more of them, so it’s really important to get enough sleep.”[i]

Many people have a poor relationship with food due to the result of emotional issues and stress. It’s not always as simple as we think – family history, traumatic events, relationships and childhood patterns of eating can all contribute to our food choices and the amount of food we eat,” Dr Cummings says.

“We need to get to the bottom of what is really causing the patient’s unhealthy relationship with food and set them on a path to finding the joy in eating for well-being.”

[1] Stephanie M. Greer, Andrea N. GoldsteinMatthew P. Walker The impact of sleep deprivation on food desire in the human brain. Nature Communications 4, (2013)

 

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