Your body is ready. Let’s get cracking!
- Eat when you’re calm
Eating while stressed can make it more difficult for your body to absorb vitamins and minerals, which means you’re not getting goodness from your food. Rapid, stressed-out eating leads to bloating, wind, stomach cramps and diarrhoea. Nice! It can also make you overeat, as you push food into your mouth so fast that you don’t realise you’re full before your waistband cuts painfully into your stomach. When you know you’re feeling hangry (that’s so hungry, you’re angry), calm down before you eat by kneading the fleshy part between your thumb and forefinger for 30 seconds. Even a short hand massage lowers your heart rate and lessens anxiety.
- Align your eyes with your stomach
We tend to serve portions according to how big our plates are, not how hungry we are. Break this habit by serving yourself two-thirds of your normal portion – you can always have the rest if you need a top-up, but chances are this will be enough to satisfy your hunger.
- Express gratitude for your food
Give thanks for what you are about to devour and your meal will taste better and feel more satisfying in every way. Out loud, observe the colours and delicious textures of your food, and thank the cook (especially if its you). Internally, pay attention to the ways your meal will nourish your body: think about how that roast beef will give you iron strength, or how the vitamin C in your blueberries will help you feel calmer.
- Chew, chew, chew
Chewing releases more nutrients from food. Start munching at least ten times before you swallow and work up to doubling that number. Slim people chew each mouthful an average of twenty-one times. Breaking down food in your mouth like this helps your stomach signal fullness to your brain more quickly.
- Eat in slo-mo
Place your knife and fork down between mouthfuls to break the hand-to-mouth flow when you eat. If you’re right-handed, try eating with your left, and vice-versa, to help slow your pace.
- Eat with all of your senses
This trick stops you filling up on so-so food that gives you little physical or emotional satisfaction. How does your food look? How does it smell? Note its texture and the sound it makes as you chew. Appreciating your food means you get more enjoyment from eating, and it slows your mealtime down so your body has time to recognise when you are full.
- Prioritise your plate
Your mum’s not watching, and there’s no law that says you have to finish everything on your plate. You can only comfortably fit so much in your stomach, so fill it up with healthy foods like vegetables and lean protein, and leave the extras that might make you feel painfully overfull.
Article extracted from the Feelgood Plan (Ebury Press, £14.99), Photography by Philip North-Coombes, out now.