Energy in – eating and drinking - needs to be balanced with Energy out – what you do with your body that uses up energy, such as any physical activity.
Makes sense doesn't it?
Well, yes it does - but it is too much of a generalisation.
We are so uniquely different and none of us absorb what we ingest in exactly the same way.
1 If you eat and drink more than your physical activity – there is definitely weight gain.
2 If you balance the two, there will be no weight gain.
3 If you eat and drink less than your physical activity, there will definitely be weight loss.
Again - this makes sense but our bodies are just so different - it is again too much of a generalisation.
(See Calorie Indications for a better idea of how many calories you use for all sorts of physical activity.)
Whilst this is simple to understand, what is not so simple is your relationship with what you eat and drink and how this can impact your weight either way.
However, ‘old habits die hard’, and your relationship with your food has been ingrained on your character from the daily influence of your parents, since you were a child – a similar influence that their parents had upon them – and its very, very hard to break these habits – but it is possible.
In order to begin to find the right physical and emotional balance, it is critical to understand how you behave around food and drink – what your relationship with it is. It is not just what is being eaten, but in what quantities, how it is being eaten, when it takes place, its frequency, in what combinations it is being consumed and what mood one is in when this takes place.
What do you eat?
If you eat mostly processed food and drinks, your body has to work harder to digest this type of food, which has a low nutritional factor. In other words, it may taste good and meet your hunger needs, but at the cellular level, where the real work takes place, much of it is rejected as lacking the right nutrients to boost your immune system and energise your body and mind, and that which is not eliminated, simply turns to fat.
This type of food uses up a lot of energy in the digestive process, can cause fatigue and does not make for smooth bowel movements.
If you eat high water content whole or real foods such as fresh fruit and vegetables and grains that make up to 80%, of your daily food intake, there is less energy being used in the digestive process. Enzymes found in the water of fresh fruit and vegetables – and not in tap water – produces amino acids that go on to produce all the protein you would ever need. In addition, the fibre that is present in this type of food is great for the intestines and digestive tract and bowel movements are smooth and regular.
How much do you eat?
A normal stomach can expand to hold up to 4 litres of food, more than 50 times its empty volume.
If you eat this sort of volume of food 2-3 times a day, your stomach will distend permanently. In other words, it will distend from its natural size of around the size of your open hand, to 4-5 times the size. A large distended stomach, becomes hungry sooner that a normal stomach, as the brain begins to learn to trigger off hunger pangs earlier for you to fill your stomach and the more you eat over and above the amount your body actually needs will turn to fat. The two types of fat that you have in your abdominal area are subcutaneous fat, which lies just under your skin and visceral fat, which distends the stomach and gives the infamous pot belly look. Your visceral fat greatly increases the risk of you developing various heart problems, diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke, sleep apnoea, some types of cancer and several other degenerative diseases such as arthritis.
How do you eat?
Most busy people in the West eat their food fast, particularly if they are eating junk food. Here it is mostly a matter of feeding because you’re hungry – it doesn’t much matter what you eat as long as it is something. It takes the brain 15-20 minutes to register that you are feeling full – by that time your meal is over and you have probably eaten too much. Digestion begins in the mouth – if you are a fast eater, then you are not chewing your food enough to get the saliva in the mouth to begin to prepare your food for its passageway down the oesophagus into the stomach. Most obese and fat people eat fast and don’t realise that this aids weight gain in the form of visceral fat – the fat that is bad for your liver and heart and that can lead to many chronic degenerative diseases.
When do you eat?
Try to eat most of your calories in the morning because that is when the body uses more calories to metabolise than it does in the afternoon or evening.
The three meals a day syndrome has become institutionalised in our society and not all people conform to that need, as we are all very different. If you do eat fast and are overweight, then the likelihood is you are eating processed or junk food more frequently because you are most likely to be hungry, more often than most. If you are eating high water content foods, such as fruits and vegetables, you are probably not overweight, eat the right sized portions at various times of the day when you do feel hungry – so frequency is not a problem.
What combinations of food do you eat?
Ever since the Hay diet came out in 1927 people have looked at food combinations and whether this is an important issue with regard to their food intake. Again, the trouble with this issue, is that we are all different. You should try it out for yourself, and if it works for you, adopt it.
Our society has become institutionalised in the manner of mixing animal protein with high starch foods and the issue lies in your digestion. There is no doubt that people who do eat properly combined foods, do feel better, they spend less energy on digestion and their bowel movements are far more comfortable. The key here is refined or processed foods, such as white bread, white flour, sugar and pasta for example - when these types of foods are combined with animal protein, the body struggles to digest them easily.
What mood are in when you eat?
If you are in a life and death situation, your digestive system shuts down, and adrenaline is pouring through your blood in order to deal with the stress of saving your life. Thankfully, most of us don’t live in an environment where we face this type of stress every day.
However, many of us do live very stressful lives, so whilst our bodies are not having to deal with the levels of adrenaline to save our life, most of us experience chronic stress, that triggers off these stress hormones on a regular basis, which has a major effect on digestion and promotes weight gain. Put simply, if you’re angry – don’t eat – let the anger go – improve your mood – and then eat – slowly – and this will improve your mood even more.
The nutritional elements need to be geared to boosting your immune system at all times, (particularly where ill health is present) and to ease the energy the body needs to digest and properly eliminate food and liquids, as digestion is the biggest user of energy in the human body. That means the right food in the right combinations. In order to begin to permanently alter the way you behave around food and drink, it is essential to raise your awareness of yourself as the physical and emotional effect of food and drink on the human anatomy is immediate and awesome, particularly from the viewpoint of ignorance, addiction and self-abuse.
If you are overweight – see Adult – height – weight chart – you should begin to take a careful look at how you behave around your food and liquid intake.
Whilst you are in a controlled environment, such as your home or even at work where you have a choice of what to eat and drink, you can more easily manage your food and liquid ingestion. When you are visiting family and friends – this is much more difficult, as imposing your individual nutritional needs on others can be a bit tricky, whilst they get on with feeding themselves in their normal way.
Best to go with the flow on these occasions and try to enjoy the company (and the meal) and make amends the next day.
If your are taking prescription drugs for any illness diagnosed by your doctor, then check the side effects in the leaflet provided when you obtain them.
If one of the side effects is weight gain – then weight is what you will probably gain and weight loss will be that much more difficult.
Prescription drugs to treat many chronic degenerative diseases such as high blood pressure, angina, depression, diabetes and many others, have weight gain as a side effect of taking them, so do check and see if your health adviser can recommend something else that does not have these unwanted side effects, particularly when you wish to lose weight.
Eating and Drinking Tips from an energy viewpoint
Digestion takes up more energy than anything else, so you want to eat foods that are easily digestible – see digestion times chart.
Eat high water content foods such as fruit and vegetables whenever you can and try not to eat processed or refined food – such as white flour, white bread, white rice, pasta and sugar.
Eat fruit and drink fruit juices on an empty stomach – ideal for the mornings and a great energy booster and easily digestible.
Try not to mix animal protein (meat, chicken, fish) and carbohydrates (potatoes, rice pasta) as they take up huge amounts of time and energy to digest.
Of course it matters what you eat but its not always the content all the time that matters, but how much is eaten – so eat small portions on a small plate you will be amazed at how much you really don’t need.
Eat slowly and chew your food well, so giving it more time in the mouth, where the saliva present can prepare the food you are eating for entry into the oesophagus, on its way to the stomach for easy digestion.
Try not to eat food ‘on the run’ – you will most probably eat it fast – just stop somewhere and enjoy it.
Common sense should always apply, but mostly it doesn’t, as we give in to our desires and graze, munch and give in to temptations that are put in front of us much of the time. The next time this happens – take a mental step back – ask yourself it this is going to be doing your body any good at all – and if you hesitate – politely decline.
If you think you feel hungry have a small glass of water or better still, a natural fruit drink –wait a few moments - then ask yourself if you are still hungry – if you are go and eat an apple or a banana.
Never eat food when you are stressed – as the adreniline in your body does not make for easy digestion as it actually affects the nutritional impact of the food you are eating and is a weight gainer not a weight loser.
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