Healthy March Munchies

By Jane Sylvestre, RD - 2/27/2016

Savor the Flavor of Eating Right

March is National Nutrition Month

Once a year, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics gets to claim the month of March to celebrate nutrition.  This year, the theme is all about taking time to enjoy your food and appreciate the pleasures, flavors and social experiences that go along with eating.  My blogs have routinely been on making the right food choices, but today we will dive a little deeper and look at the how, when, why and where we eat as well. 

All the above aspects of eating are particularly important to our patients.  How you eat plays a huge role in how well you will tolerate your food.  We often talk about cutting all food up until it is dice sized.  We often even show you a dice so you can visualize how small you should be cutting your food.  Eating slowly is a given.  If you have not already learned, you will not be able to eat quickly at all.  Meals should take a minimum of 30 minutes even though your portions may be much smaller than they were prior to surgery.  We find that patients do best when they eat with utensils rather than hand to mouth.  Using utensils will help you take smaller bites.  Some patients have even found using child sized utensils helpful for controlling the amount of food they eat with each bite.  So, cut your food up small, chew it well and take your time.  Savor the taste of your food. 

When you eat, plays a major role in achieving your weight loss goals.  Many people get in an unhealthy eating pattern where they don’t eat anything until later in the day and then make all the wrong choices because they are so hungry.  One of the worst things you can do is start your day and not eat anything until noon or 1pm when lunch time rolls around.  Your breakfast does not have to be a big elaborate meal.  It can be a simple meal of yogurt and fresh fruit or a scrambled egg with spinach tossed in or simply a handful of nuts with a banana.  Ideally, you want to get on a regular meal schedule of eating every 4-5 hours which will typically work out to 3-4 times per day.  Also, try to get away from snacking after dinner.  Your surgery should provide enough satiety so eating at night is not because of hunger.  If you are eating for boredom or stress, that is another issue that needs to be addressed. 

Why we eat is critical to success.  Are you eating because you are bored?  Are you stressed out?  Are you lonely?  Are you eating out of habit?  …or are you really hungry and looking or fuel?  If you are not sure, the best thing you can do is keep food records and jot down your feelings at the times you eat.  Note any of the above feelings.  Look for behavioral patterns that trigger these feelings.  Are you eating every night, after dinner, when you sit on the couch to watch TV?  Do you eat every day when you walk in the house from work?  I remember a time when I would grab a granola bar every time I walked in from work.  I soon realized I had to break that habit.  These are just unhealthy habits you have developed over time.  If you are serious about losing weight and I know you are because you have had surgery, you need to look at why you are eating.  If necessary, switch up your behaviors, do things differently.  Make a cup at tea at night.  Read a book in a different room.  Go for a walk after dinner.  Try changing your routine to break these unnecessary eating habits.  Again, start the process with food records to identify a possible problem. 

This is also why we look at where you eat.  The location of eating can often trigger unhealthy eating habits.  Do you eat when you sit on your couch, ride in your car or sit at your desk?  Make an effort to designate a location where you allow yourself to eat.  Preferably, this is at a kitchen table, sitting down so that you can “Savor the Flavor” and enjoy your meals with your family and/or friends.    Appreciate these social experiences with others.  Food can be an enjoyable part of your day. 

Don’t forget to celebrate national Nutrition Month by Savoring the Flavor of Eating Right.  Eating well is not only about making healthy food choices.  How, when, where and why you eat play major roles as well.  Enjoy! 

 

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