“It’s not fair! She’s always munching on something yet she stays slim. I just look at food and I’m packing on the kgs!”
You may have said this, or heard it said, and wondered how this happens. The truth is, while it is sometimes simply genetics, a sedentary lifestyle, or greediness (think pizza, ice-cream, coca-cola and huge slices of chocolate cake every other day), many Nigerians are unaware that by correcting bad eating habits ingrained in our behaviour, excess weight can be kept off. Here are some common ones:
1. Eating with a spoon.
Many Nigerians are guilty of this. On top of preferring to eat our “swallow” with our hands (I’m guilty of that; it tastes better), many of us go further to eat our rice and beans using a spoon. The reason is that a spoon offers maximum efficiency, making it easy for us to shovel in the food and then wonder why we’re not losing the weight. Drop the spoon and use a fork instead; while you’re at it, practice using the chopsticks provided when eating Chinese food. Yeah, that light bulb moment when you realize that this may be part of why there aren’t many overweight Chinese people…
2. Not chewing sufficiently before swallowing.
This goes hand-in-hand with eating too fast. Chewing your food well before swallowing helps ensure it gets digested properly. Chewing well also requires you to eat more slowly, which means that you feel full faster. Wolfing down food causes you to consume large amounts of food in a short time. The result? You’ve overeaten long before your body has time to register that it’s had enough. Is it any wonder that research shows that overweight people chew less?
3. Supper- Eating Heavy/Late.
This is the number one culprit, at least for me. Experts say eating after 7pm is bad for our bodies; so is eating a meal so heavy the body stays active digesting it well into the night. In most cases, this process isn’t successful and soon you end up with a big tummy- even if you’re slim. Studies have shown that overweight people use larger plates; consistently using a smaller plate will get you a smaller belly. So try dishing your food onto a smaller plate, and then take note of mistake number 4 below.
4. Cleaning your plate.
There’s something about not cleaning our plates that makes us feel guilty. Maybe we’re trying not to hurt the hostess’/cook’s feelings, or we just don’t want to be wasteful. After all, Mummy taught us to always finish our food. Let’s not question mother’s motives. Just ignore that advice. Breaking this habit will help you stop eating when you are full. If you don’t want to waste it, keep it in your fridge for later, or ask the hostess to pack it for you so you can take it away. That way, neither the cook nor your waist line will be hurt.
5. Skipping breakfast.
Having fasted overnight, skipping breakfast means your body is running on empty till you have lunch. But we’re in a hurry; the traffic challenges in our bigger cities require us to leave for the office when it’s too early to eat, and we get caught up in work, and before we know it, it is lunch time… then we proceed to eat the whole canteen.
Breakfast is a crucial meal; missing it raises your risk of obesity by a whopping 450 percent! Experts recommend starting your day with some lean protein and fibre (think wheat bread, eggs, oatmeal, fruit etc) —which will jumpstart your metabolism and keep you full.
6. Having other drinks instead of water.
Why drink water when there are so many delicious things to drink? There’s nothing wrong with having tasty beverages to accompany your meals, but water is, simply put, the ultimate drink. It is the main component of all drinks, but water has even greater health benefits when taken on its own- without anything else added.
If you’re serious about losing weight, try substituting water for soft drinks and juice. Water is the dieter’s darling; while it doesn’t have any magical effect on weight loss, substituting it for higher calorie beverages will help keep those kgs off. I tried a “Water as Beverage of Choice” diet once, and in just one week of drinking water and nothing else, I was looking and feeling better!
Also, a cup of water before dinner can reduce the tendency to overeat.
Now you know these secrets. The power to eat well and still stay slim is in your hands. Take charge of your waist line and your health!