by Growing Needs | Dec 12, 2022 | Lifestyle & Wellness, Wellness
“Health is Wealth” is a golden saying we learn to appreciate all the more as we grow with age. As metabolisms dip and joints begin to creak, we start to realize that good health is a wealth that needs to be preserved and protected. It is not something we can come to automatically expect without any intentional maintenance efforts.
To stay healthy, it is common knowledge that we need to exercise regularly. Besides this, it is also important to develop healthy eating habits so that we are not putting unnecessary burdens on our bodies over extended periods of time. The beginning of a new year is a good time to take a step back to see how we can be eating better.
Here are some quick tips to help you eat more wisely in the coming year.
Eating is something that we do at least two to three times a day, and it is helpful to understand the drives behind our eating patterns.
Some people do not think they have any eating philosophy. They simply eat whatever is affordable or tastes good, up to the point when they feel it is time to stop. This “whatever, whenever” outlook is nevertheless, still an eating philosophy that determines what you put into your body, in what amounts and when. Others consciously choose to eat only the best things in life, determined not to waste any calorie quota on yucky foods.
So, do you eat to live, or live to eat? Whatever your eating philosophy may be, it is an extremely empowering exercise to reflect upon why you have been eating in the way you have been doing so over the past year. Understanding the drives behind your eating habits grants you the ability to consciously choose to develop a different approach when there is a need for you to do so.
To get an idea of what your current eating philosophy may be, try this exercise. Over the coming week, end your meals by asking yourself the following questions:
The recommended intake proportions for each of the five categories are often presented in the form of a food pyramid such as this:
To convert the essence of the food pyramid into a more user-friendly approach, develop a mental image of how a balanced diet looks like on your plate. Hold this image in your mind when you are ordering food from your favorite economic rice stall in the hawker centre, or filling up your plate with food items at home.
Health Hub Singapore has developed a very helpful approach toward this end with their “Quarter, Quarter, Half” – My Healthy Plate Campaign. The idea is to have a quarter of your plate filled with whole grains, another quarter filled with proteins (and other items) and half of your plate filled with greens and fruits as presented in the following visual aid and campaign clip.
Most people have two to three large meals a day and tend to over eat for at least a meal. In doing so, the body has less time to digest the food intake and use up its energy before the next fill-up. Any energy that is not used up by the body is simply stored as fats, leading to unwanted weight-gains and higher cholesterol levels.
On the other hand, medical research has shown that eating less more often, results in lower levels of total cholesterol as well as lower levels of bad (LDL) cholesterol. By spreading out the same portion of food over more meals a day, the body is also able to maintain a more constant blood-sugar level and you are less likely to experience bouts of lethargy.
The only caveat to this tip is to watch your portions very carefully, so that you do not end up just simply eating more meals period. That will lead to significant weight gains and higher cholesterol levels!
Another interesting find of medical research is that simply having a glass of water before each meal can significantly improve your diet and health.
Studies have shown that middle aged and older adults who drank 500ml of water before each meal, experienced a 44% greater decline in weight over a 12 week period. Similarly, overweight and obese older adults who kept this simple practice ended up consuming 13% less calories even without trying to make any other changes.
Isn’t it amazing what a simple cup of water before each meal can do for your health!
Finally, eating more healthily does not mean swearing off yummy foods for the rest of your life. In fact, such extreme forms of abstinence can often be self-sabotaging. It creates reservoirs of pent-up cravings that end up in unbridled gorging sprees when eventually indulged.
A saner and more moderate approach will be to plan appropriate times for pleasure eating when you can indulge in your favorite snacks and street foods without needing to worry too much about what you are eating. One practice I personally observe and recommend is to stick to a largely vegan diet during the weekdays and allow myself to indulge in the things I like for the weekend meals. That way, I can be certain that five out of seven days a week, I am keeping to a balanced, healthy diet. I also need not feel guilty when eating my favorite foods and do not see the need to over-indulge as there is always the coming weekend to look forward to. I have also found that such measured forms of diet disciplines makes food taste even better as it adds another level of anticipation and excitement to the times when you are having your favorite dish.
By not depriving yourself all the time and giving yourself occasional treats sometimes, you are more likely to sustain a healthy and balanced eating pattern most of the time. In short, if you start by “Eating to Live” through a sane and balanced diet, you will end up being able to “Live to Eat” your favorite foods for many more years to come.
Growing Needs grew out of our own encounters with caring for our aging parents and reflecting on the Growing Needs that we ourselves would face as we advance in years. We hope to build a community that will learn, share and contribute towards caring for the growing needs of our loved ones.