By Kathy Emiko
Have you ever asked yourself why you eat? Your immediate answers to the question are probably: â€œI eat when I am hungry.â€ Or, â€œBecause I am hungry.â€ But think again. Do you really only eat to satisfy your hunger or do you, sometimes, eat in response to deeper emotional needs. When you feel bad or lonely, depressed or rejected, worried or frustrated, do you sometimes turn to food for comfort? Or do you eat simply because food is put in front of you or it is time for a meal, whether you are hungry or not?â€
No matter what you weigh, it is important to recognize how psychological factors can influence your attitude towards food and eating habits. Being in love and falling out of it; worries at home or at work; happiness or sadness â€“ all make a difference to your eating habit.
If you can pinpoint your weakness, you can organize your meals to counteract any tendencies that result in badly planned eating; in so doing, you will be well on your way to a healthy body with ease.
Diet profile: Your diet profile is to let you know why and how you eat and also to help you to improve on your eating habit.
(1) Percentage of fresh food versus non-fresh: What is the amount of fresh food you eat versus non-fresh food? Is it about equal half, or more like 75 percent processed and 25 percent fresh? If you can eat a few more meals that are from fresh ingredients, then that would be a good change to make.
Processed or refined foods are typically high in sugar, salt, saturated fat, trans fat, chemicals, addictives and preservatives. They are also low in nutrients. All these substances simply arenâ€™t good for you; by contrast, healthy fresh foods are rich in nutrients you need.
(2) Are you eating your five portions of vegetable a day? Vegetables are nutritional superstars. They are powerful sources of health and immuneâ€“boosting antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and phyto-chemicals, which not only help you look and feel good but also offer vital protection against all kinds of disorder and reduce the risk of diabetes, heart disease and cancer. Vegetables also aid digestion and encourage the elimination of toxins and wastes because of their fibre content. The question is: ARE YOU GETTING ENOUGH OF THEM?
(3) ARE YOU JUNKING OUT? How much fast-foods (takeaways), ready meals or processed foods are you eating? Many are loaded with salt, sugar, colourings, addictives, hardened (particularly hydrogenated) vegetable oil and other hidden evils. In addition, many of the good nutrients are processed out of these foods. So, if you live on them, you will literally be malnourished. Stop eating them!Â Junk foods are a direct assault on your body, increasing its toxic load and promoting obesity, heart disease and other health problems.
(4) Are you a sugar junkie? Are you consuming sugar at breakfast, lunch and dinner – in your tea, coffees and the like? Is it hidden in your cereal boxes and are you adding more? Are you a fizzy drink addict?
You must limit your intake of sugar, sweeteners and sugary foods if you want to feel well and lose weight. Table sugar contains nothing more than empty calories and goes straight into your blood stream. It causes rapid swings in blood sugar and energy levels. Natural sweeteners like fruit juice or fresh fruit are best alternatives.
(5) Are you a salt junkie? Too much salt in your diet may upset the sodium-potassium balance in your body and trigger high blood pressure and heart disease. Salty diets are also linked to fluid retention and kidney stones. The main sources of sodium in your diet are table salt, cooking salt, sauces and processed foods. Itâ€™s also hidden in so many things like smoked meat. Instead of adding salt to boost flavour, experiment with herbs and spices for alternatives. If you do use a very small amount of salt, then be sure to use sea salt.
(6) Is there too much wheat in your diet? Are you eating toast for breakfast every day, wheat for lunch and cereals for dinner? Wheat contains gluten which can lead to digestive problems in some and may interfere with metabolism in others. If you want to lose weight, you will have to go wheatâ€“free for a while; and as part of a healthy, varied diet, itâ€™s important to introduce other grains such as brown rice.
(7) Are you drinking enough water? Two-thirds of your body is made up of water so, water intake and distribution is vital for balancing hormones, eliminating waste products, keeping your cells working and delivering nutrients to your organs. Dehydration is a sure way to help yourself put on weight. You need to drink at least six to eight glasses of water each day.
(8) Do you eat two many â€˜whiteâ€™ food? WHITE RICE and WHITE BREAD are refined foods. They are not only low in nutrients but quick to release sugar. This means you may get a quick â€˜highâ€™ followed by long slumps of energy. Cut them out especially when you have weight and health issues.
(9) Compare your intake of good fats versus bad fats: You should try to obtain as little fat as possible from saturated fats or trans-fats found in animal products and processed foods. As much as possible, go for fats in the form of essential fatty acids, particularly Omega 3 and 6. Without sufficient quantities of EFAs (essential fatty acids), your body cannot manufacture the hormones and chemicals you need to stay healthy, happy and trim. In a nutshell, are you eating enough fish, olive oil, avocado, seeds and nuts?
(10) Do you use herbs and spices? Gentle spices and herbs add taste and variety to your food with added health benefits too. They are there to detach the salt and pepper and give you necessary lift.
(11) Are you a caffeine addict? Caffeine contains a chemical called benzoic acid which has a toxic and dehydrating effect on your body. Caffeine in tea, coffee, chocolate and caffeinated soft drinks and energy drinks acts as a stimulant and causes a fast rise in blood pressure and blood sugar, followed by a quick drop which contributes to a roller-coaster ride of mood swings, fatigue, concentration problems, headaches and anxiety.
To top it all, caffeine whips your adrenal glands into exhaustion causing an imbalance in stress hormones. Poor adrenal function leaves you feeing wiped out. So, far from being a quick pick-me-up, caffeine ends up making you feel tired, irritable, incontinent and old before your time.
*To be continued next week.
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