Superfoods, smoothies, cereals, protein bars are all loaded with vitamins, but not as healthy as they seem to be. Nutrition should not turn into a process where the main thing is to monitor the consumption of certain substances. The key role is devoted to the development of healthy eating habits. Michael Pollan, author of several best-selling nutrition books, debunks the myth of modern “healthy” food. In his book In Defense of Food, which has been translated into 29 languages, he suggests paying attention to the wisdom of the ancestors and common sense.
Top 5 Eating Habits
Eat Not That Much
Nutritionists call the French diet a paradox, as the French manage to stay slim by consuming large amounts of saturated fats and wine. Alas, few people notice that this nation has a special relationship with food.
Followers of nutritionism pay too much attention to the chemical aspect of nutrition, but forget about the sociological and ecological. When researching the health benefits of red wine or foie gras, experts on the side of the American style of eating lose sight of the fact that the French, for example, almost never spend time on a regular snack, they eat most often in company and in small portions, doing without additives.
In addition, they spend much more time eating than we do. Thanks to all these features, the French ultimately consume few calories, but they get more pleasure and benefits from food.
What’s The Secret?
Paul Rosen also noticed this when he compared the behavior of visitors to supermarkets and restaurants in Paris and Philadelphia. It turned out that in France people eat small portions that cannot be compared with typical American ones. This is very important, since many people have a problem that psychologists call “distorted perception of units of measurement”; they tend to think that no matter how small or large the portion served to us, it can be considered normal and eaten whole.
In addition, the French spend much more time eating than we, who are accustomed to dishes of respectable size.
“Thus,” Rosen writes, “in France, people spend a significant part of the day immersed in the culture of food consumption, although they eat less.”
In his opinion, this may be one of the reasons why the French are healthier and slimmer than the Americans. And perhaps this is the most intelligent approach to nutrition that can push us in the right direction.
Pay More, Eat Less
Looking at the French, you begin to understand that the quality of food is more important than quantity.
The American system has been making great efforts for a hundred years to produce a large amount of food without paying due attention to how valuable it is to the body. As a result, tons of surrogate food stuffed into boxes and bags are sold at a low price. Of course, you can still find really good food in American stores, despite the fact that in our food industry the slogan used by one of the supermarket chains has always been the guiding principle: “Bigger and Cheaper.”
The tastier and healthier the food (these properties tend to go hand in hand), the more you will have to pay for it. Such food is the result of the careful cultivation of certain plants or animals without the use of harsh chemicals. But, unfortunately, not everyone can afford it. However, if you have the opportunity to buy such products, do so. This way you will not only improve the functioning of your body (protecting yourself from the influence of pesticides and other harmful chemical compounds), but also contribute to the well-being and health of those who have grown quality products.
By purchasing expensive, but natural products, you also win in the sense that you will not be able to overeat such food.
I know that the phrase “Eat not very much” is not liked by anyone, but there is a lot of evidence that this recommendation will be of great benefit even to those who are not overweight. It has been repeatedly observed that with a decrease in the caloric content of the diet in animals, aging slows down and life expectancy increases.
Does This Eating Habit Really Work?
According to some scientists, reducing the calorie content of the diet can be one of the most effective ways to prevent cancer. When overeating, cells divide more actively, especially cancer cells; if there is less, then cell division will slow down. Refusal of gluttony slows down the formation of free radicals, reduces the intensity of inflammatory processes and reduces the risk of developing most of the “diseases of Western civilization.”
“Eat not very much” – the advice is not to say pleasant, especially for residents of a country where the widest range of cheap and high-calorie food is always available, there are no clear rules to help avoid overeating. But other peoples have similar rules, and we can take an example from them.
Stop Eating When You Are 80% Full
The French eat small meals. And on the island of Okinawa, where there are a lot of centenarians and people with amazingly good health, they are used to adhering to the eating habits/principle of “hara hachi bu”, that is, “stop eating when you are 80% full”.
It makes sense, of course, but it’s easier said than done, isn’t it? It is not clear how you can find out at what point you are satiated exactly by 80%. To do this, while eating, you will have to pay much more attention to your sensations and feelings.
According to Paul Rosen and other psychologists, in the United States, a person usually finishes eating not when they feel full (and certainly not 80%), but when something in the space around them visually “tells” that it’s time to finish: the packaging is already empty, or there is nothing else on the plate, or the program that the person was watching while eating has come to an end.
Brian Wansink, a professor at Cornell University who once studied the relationship between portion sizes and appetite, also came to the conclusion that for Americans, the main signs of satiety are most often manifested not in purely physical sensations, but in any changes in the space around them. The French behave, of course, in a completely different way: they focus on the whole spectrum of feelings that arise during the meal.
Try Not to Eat Alone
Modern Americans increasingly eat separately from each other. According to eating habits research, when a person who does not tend to overeat eats with others, he eats more (one of the reasons is probably that in such an environment there is more time to eat), but for those who suffer from binge eating, a collective meal helps to restrain one’s impulses, because if there are people nearby who are looking at you, then it is simply embarrassing to gobble up both cheeks.
That is why, by the way, many large manufacturers encourage us to eat their products in front of the TV or in the car. When you eat alone and there is nothing around that could distract you, you will certainly overeat.
We should not forget about a more important aspect: a joint meal makes you perceive food not just as fuel that you need to mindlessly pour into your body, but as one of the components of a significant ritual that allows you to strengthen relationships between family members, friends, colleagues, etc. Thus, from a purely biological level, we rise to a cultural level.
Not only because it’s easier to feel when it’s time to stop, but to enjoy food; then you will need less food to eat. In the 1980s, the Slow Food movement was born in Rome. Its supporters believed that “the ability to quietly enjoy some of the material aspects of everyday life allows you to protect yourself from the harmful influence of the madness of the modern world.”
Slow Food was created when American fast food was first brought to Italy. The purpose of these slow eating habits was to remind people that food only brings real benefits if it is eaten with other people and not very quickly.
Many have not just forgotten about this, but do not know at all. In part, this sounds like a description of an elite club for lovers of food (alas, this is what Slow Food adherents sometimes look like), but still this movement gives people the opportunity to protect themselves not only from the influence of the Western diet, but also from the shortcomings of the Western lifestyle in general.
Slow Food advocates agree that the quality of food should be more important than its quantity, and promote this idea by educating people to taste good, natural food. They also speak of the importance of restoring normal, trusting relationships between producers and buyers.
“Food gains true value,” says Carlo Petrini, founder of Slow Food, “if the consumer respects whole food farmers while learning to listen to their bodies. The consumer’s senses can become the most important allies of manufacturers.”
It is impossible to underestimate any ways that allow you to wean yourself from food stuffed with various artificial substances that “deceive” our body.
See more about eating habits:
- Intuitive Eating Principles: Weight Loss and Health
- Eating Before Bed: Good or Bad
- How to Start Eating Healthy: 9 Tips
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