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 Weight Control 


Five Rules for Healthy Eating

by Sylvia Mills, Ph.D.

Bad Eating Habits Lead to Obesity  

A lot of people miss breakfast, eat a skimpy lunch and end up ravenous at the end of the day. Because they are so hungry they eat while they are making dinner; eat dinner too fast; still feel hungry and either deprive themselves, or continue to snack through the evening. Disgusted with themselves, they console themselves with sweet foods or alcohol, which again adds more calories.

Dieting is the pits.... reduced food intake just sets up the desire to binge as soon as the diet is over. After weeks of deprivation, chocolate, candy and junk food are too desirable. So if you want to lose weight what do you do?

The Solution: Learn about Healthy Eating  

To prevent weight gain, the solution is do not overeat. To prevent overeating, it is essential to modify your basic eating behaviors. A friend of mine usually finished his meal way ahead of me, ate extra helpings and he put on pounds. Then he starved himself for ten days. He lost 10 pounds. When he resumed his usual eating behavior he regained the weight. Another friend "likes" particular foods in spite of the fact they are fatty. He found he had high blood pressure and lost a lot of weight but now makes "exceptions" to his healthier diet to munch on fattier foods. Although he talks about losing weight he is gaining it back one-cheese omelets at a time. Aside from the discomfort of this 'on again off again' pattern of overeating and weight gain, there are health risks. You have only to be really ill, to learn how valuable it is to be healthy.

During the weight gain period, there is an increased risk of cardiovascular disease because you are carrying around an overweight body. Dieting means a risking insufficiencies of calcium and other essentials minerals and vitamins you need for optimum health. In addition, weigh gain and weight loss have a negative impact on your mood and well-being.

Five Rules for Healthy Eating

First Rule: Shop for health: If you buy it: You WILL eat it.  

Don't buy or order junk food then you cannot eat it. Buy the most delectable fruits and vegetables and eat plenty of them. Ounce for ounce they are less expensive than candy.

Avoid manufactured foods: buy fresh. Anything prepackaged in plastic, cans, or layers of paper wrappings is manufactured and probably has more sugar, salt and fat than you can afford to eat. Please note: high blood pressure can be affected by a high salt intake. Buy fresh vegetables, fruit, meat and fish. Eat only a little [less than 4 ounces] of pasta, potatoes, rice or bread. Buy only breads with 2 or 3 grams of fiber per slice and don't add margarine, butter or preserves.

Second Rule: Eat ONLY when you are sitting at a table.  

This means no snacking while you prepare food, no eating between meals, and no eating after dinner is over. The one exception is a piece of fruit midway between breakfast and lunch and a second fruit halfway between lunch and dinner.

At work, no eating at your desk...go to the lunchroom or outside in fine weather.

Third Rule: No TV or reading while you are eating.  

You need to be aware of what you are eating and how you are eating it. Remember when you were so hungry, you ate so fast the meal just vanished or, you were busy watching television and you ate the whole meal without being conscious of it. That is a trance state. If you eat with someone, remember, no talking with food in your mouth.

Fourth Rule: Put no more than a heaped teaspoonful of food into your mouth at any one time and empty your mouth before reloading your fork or spoon.  

This slows the pace of eating and allows enough space in your mouth to properly mix the food with saliva. This starts the process of good digestion. Still eat too fast, use a teaspoon or a child's fork and eat off a small plate not a big one.

Fifth Rule: Chew each mouthful at least 20-25 times.  

This breaks the food down into small particles for efficient digestion - and yes, the rule applies to soft foods too. It also slows the pace of your eating.

When you take time to eat, your stomach has the ten minutes it needs to signal to the brain: "I have food in me." Your brain then switches off the, "I am hungry" mechanism. This process takes about 10-15 minutes.

A fast eater can shovel in a lot of food before the switch is triggered so faster eaters may eat too much. Next time you are in a restaurant, try watching 10 overweight people and 10 people normal weight people eat. You will generally find that overweight people eat the same meal in much less time than the thinner people.


If you follow these simple rules, you will balance your food intake across the day. You will never be "starving" and you will chew and taste each mouthful of food for a longer time. Since you are less likely to pig out at dinner, you are more likely to wake up hungry, so breakfast becomes a necessary meal. Enjoy it.

At lunchtime, eat a tasty variety of food and you will no longer be ravenously hungry when you sit down to eat dinner and too tired to pay attention to what you are eating.

What you eat matters. Remember fats and sugars are rich in calories and poor in nutrition. Go for variety.

Eating regular, well-chewed, unrushed meals of foods high in nutritional value means enjoying good flavors, good digestion, sound nutrition plus you promote a sense of healthy well-being and you will be unlikely to pile on excess pounds.

When you stop buying junk food, you also save a lot of money. All that processing costs money: junk foods pass those costs onto you. Not only your body but your budget benefits from healthy eating..... Enjoy!

Solution Oriented Meal Suggestions:  

Breakfast: If you are not in the habit of eating a breakfast, start with easy foods like bananas, yogurt, nuts, oatmeal and fruits. If you like milk, drink it. A good breakfast is the insurance you will not overeat later in the day.

Lunch: Include a variety of foods. If you work, take fruit to eat, snack on raw vegetables [a dipping sauce is okay if you use it sparingly] or take a homemade sandwich with just a single slice of meat or cheese in its middle and plenty of salad for taste and texture.

Dinner: Same as lunch: small quantities of a variety of natural foods cooked anyway you like but with no added fat. If you find yourself craving a dessert eat a small quantity really slowly, savor every teaspoonful and see how long you can make it last [no refills].

Snacks: Snacks are okay to reduce long periods between meals. Eating every four or five hours prevents feelings of "starvation." Feeling "starved" means risking eating too much too fast. Snacks of fruit, a few nuts or baby carrots provide healthy calories. If you want some chocolate have some now and again. When I want chocolates, I only buy three because I know if I buy ten pieces I will eat the lot [I have no will power around chocolate] but I will hate the fact I have eaten so much. Remember the First Rule: If you buy it you'll eat it, so only buy what is good for you.

Last thought: 

Size matters: if your heart has to service 300 lbs that is twice the work of servicing 150lbs plus it has to use more pressure to do the additional pumping... Overeat and it's your funeral...

Sylvia Mills, Ph.D. is a psychologist, author and Professional Member of the National Speakers Association. She speaks regularly to Corporations "Dealing with Difficult People." "Handling Conflict Effectively." "Managing Stress in these Pressured Times." Meeting planners and readers can find additional articles and contact information at http://www.SylviaMills.com

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