How to eat food

Most of us do not know hoe to eat. I’m not talking about table manners here but about what and how much we eat and how to modify our behavior to eat in a more healthy way.
In no particular order, try to follow these simple rules for enjoying food. If you have suggestions to add to the list, please let me know.

Food portions

  • Serve yourself only once; no second helpings—ever! (Unless you will hurt someone’s feelings.) Keep leftovers and eat them as a small appetizer the next day or as a second full meal.
  • Eat small portions. Share your food with someone or use a smaller plate to eat from. Be particularly careful in restaurants, which tend to give you too much food.
  • Leave food behind on your plate. Don’t be greedy. Have no fear in hurting the chef’s feelings—better that than the chef hurting your health.

Timing of eating

  • Do not snack unless it is on raw vegetables or dried fruit/nuts. On the other hand, do not be shy to snack if really hungry. Better to have a carrot stick mid-morning than a gorging later in the day.
  • Take your time. Eating slow = eating less. The brain takes 20 minutes to get the message from the stomach that it is full.
  • Eat five small meals or three larger meals a day at set times. Haphazard eating leads to over-eating. A little structure and discipline is good for your brain and for digestion.

Ways of eating

  • Forget the buffet; too much choice = eating more. You can actually lose weight if you eat the same thing every day for every meal. Our eyes eat more than our stomachs can handle.
  • Use utensils. You eat less with a knife and fork than with your hands.
  • Don’t fool yourself. Salad dressing has more calories than salad.
  • Start your meal with soup—it’s filling, aids digestion and is “feel-good” food.
  • Treat yourself sometimes (only sometimes) to “forbidden” items like ice cream or cake.
  • Beware of alcohol. A nightly glass or two is fine, but it is high in calories and makes you less amusing than you think.
  • Eat with others if you can. Making every meal a social occasion makes living more fun.
  • Avoid the bread rolls and butter—no need for it.
  • Eat one or two courses only. Alternate between appetizer and main and main and dessert for variety.
  • Eat meals at a table, not on the go in a car or standing. Enjoy the process.

Morad Tavallali, M.D., FACS