1 - Don’t eat unless you are hungry
Try to give your gut a break - the digestion process takes energy too, and your body diverts it from elsewhere, such as your brain. Eating less also makes you feel lighter when you move, instead of having to deal with the excess baggage.
2 - Eat Food
Perhaps less obvious than it seems, food is what the body needs and recognises when we first smell, taste and chew on a meal. These initial signals prime our bodies for digestion, in preparation to assimilate the food. The cravings we have for certain tastes (sweet, sour, salty, bitter) at different times is the body’s way of telling us what kinds of food and nutrition it needs at that moment.
On the other hand, so-called ‘packaged’ food is industrially processed for convenience, both for takeaways and for home cooking. The artificial flavourings used in the mass manufacture of these ready meals are meant to compensate for the original flavours lost in their processing - they trick the body into thinking it’s getting the nutrition it needs. Eat real food instead to adhere to a healthier lifestyle.
3 - Learn to recognise different foods
Not carbs, fats or proteins, but mangoes, papaya, pumpkin, fish, chicken, etc. These are examples of food that are found fresh and whole in local markets. They haven’t been processed into ingredients for mass-manufactured products or modified by preservatives for a long shelf life. Whole foods are never purely protein, carbs or fat, but a combination of the three. When we reduce them to carbs, fats or proteins, we reduce nature’s bounty to a misleading measure of nutrition.
4 - Eat fresh food for good gut health
Peel an orange and the skin shrivels and dries up - ditto for an apple, or any other fruit. So why does fruit skin stay fresh when it’s still part of the fruit? Whatever process keeps the whole fruit fresh, (scientists are still investigating) could also explain how humans can tell the freshness of whole foods. Whole foods are good prebiotics (dietary fiber) that benefit our gut bacteria and promote a healthy digestive system.
5 - Don’t eat in between meals
The gastric (secretion of digestive acids) or stomach phase of digestion takes three to four hours to complete. If you keep eating before it is complete, you delay it. If you do this long and often enough, the food will be in more or less a permanent state of incomplete digestion. What happens next is rapid weight gain as your body deals with undigested food mass by trying to place it outside of your congested gastrointestinal tract, like your hips, gluteus maximus and ankles.
6 - What about healthy snacking?
Healthy snacking serves to tide you over when you feel hungry, but haven’t eaten your main meal. For example, you’ve skipped lunch to have meetings all day and have a workout scheduled in two hours, and for the energy, you eat a handful of dates and nuts. That’s healthy snacking.
7 - Moving along: Exercise and gut health
Peristalsis, the movement of food through our alimentary canal as it’s being digested, is stimulated by mild exercise such as walking and gentle stretching after a main meal. (But always sit and never eat on the run; eating and running are physiologically incompatible activities). If you haven’t just eaten, then exercise can be an even more effective way of toning the intestinal muscles. Talk to our Certified Fitness Coaches to find out how.