25 March 2013

How to Phase Out Bad Eating Habits

This post is written by contributing author Anabel Bouza.

Now that March is well under way, I would like to look back, to January. Remember your new year resolutions? Are you still sticking to them?

How about the ones concerning health and diet?

healthy girl eating veggies
Illustration by Anabel Bouza
This month's theme coincides with my decision to phase out my own bad eating habits. I'm not referring to radical changes that will drain my willpower, or leave me feeling defeated when I fail to stick to the plan (as is the case with so many new year's resolutions) instead, I'm looking to introduce gradual changes that can be sustained on the long term.

Not only is my intention to improve my own health, but also the health of those who benefit from my cookery. Also, I have the suspicion that the progressive replacement of bad habits for good ones will be less likely to meet resistance from hesitant family members... Some may say it's sneaky, I call it the cook's prerogative!

Hearty winter foods are moving aside in favor of lighter spring-summer fare: the time is right to change things up, and the benefits are plentiful.

Banish temptation. Don't bring into your home the foods you are trying to avoid. 
This sounds obvious, but sometimes we set up traps for our future selves inadvertently: think of future you (eat-at-home you), when you're debating whether to buy that guilty snack or not.
Instead of setting up the stage for a wrestling match with yourself later ("Should I have another piece of that salted chocolate caramel?") just leave it on the market shelf.

If you're trying to eat out less, spice up your eat-at-home routine.
Some people do this by creating a choose-your-own-adventure kind of spread: customizing homemade pizzas with fun, healthy toppings, for example. The idea is to serve simply cooked dishes, in small proportions, and to relish the occasion.

Our own version of this involves tapas, those tasty Spanish appetizers. They're a break from the usual 'finish your plate' approach, and make the occasion feel celebratory. You get to sample and mix... and sampling is always fun, right?

In a perfect world, portions would be perfectly sized to fit our needs and not a spoonful more, and there would be no food left on the plate — the #1 cause of upset among grandmothers everywhere. I've been trying to balance the art of the sensibly portioned meal, with the Hara Hachi Bu approach.

Hara Hachi Bu is the practice of eating until you are 8/10 parts full, customary among the residents of Okinawa, Japan.

(Really, it is just common sense: it takes roughly 20 minutes for the brain to register that you've eaten, so when you eat up to the point of feeling full —without giving the brain time to catch up— you end up over eating, in fact.)

This knowledge has already proven handy: it keeps me for 'going for seconds', or overeating when going out, since restaurants' portions usually are one-fits-all. 

And finally, something I adopted from one of my favorite science podcasts, a reminder to tackle food-shopping mindfully. After all, what we eat informs us, and it all starts with the ingredients we choose.

'Whatever I put in the shopping cart is what my body will use to build the next version of itself.'

Now it's your turn, what can make you change your eating habits?

This post is part of Eat Healthier month on Kanelstrand. Read the rest of the posts here and join in the discussions, we'd love to know what you think!

Anabel Bouza insists there's powerful magic in the action of creating something out of a vague vision, a chill of inspiration. She is an illustrator with a passion for nature, paper manipulation, and pointing her camera at things.

Her appreciation for simplicity dates back to a former life in Cuba - her strange homeland - where she refined the ability to see the alternative uses of common objects, and the enchanting side of things. She's often found blogging as
Weird Amiga, hard at work in her sunny studio, or staring at things as if looking at them for the first time. Her tiny family is comprised of husband & a turtle. Connect to Anabel via facebook and twitter.