There is increasing evidence that what we put into our bodies plays as big a role in the presence or absence of disease than just about anything else we do. Often, people who eat a healthy diet have a longer life and a better quality of life when compared to those who choose to scoff the unhealthy foods (otherwise known as the good stuff 😩). FACT.
You’ll read a lot about different diets that can help with menopause and I’m not going into that here. You can read some of my other blog posts about those. This post is about healthy eating in general which is helpful at any point in life but more so during and after menopause when you become more at risk for things like osteoporosis and heart disease.
During menopause, you take a hammering. whether it’s physical or mental symptoms, a lot of us turn to comfort eating to help us feel better. Comfort eating is known in wellbeing/medical circles as emotional eating.
This is one of the more common and harmful dysfunctional eating habits (find out more about it in this post). This is something that a lot of us have done in our lives on occasion, and for some people, it’s their main coping strategy and this can lead to serious health consequences. I really wish I was one of those people who go off their food when they’re having a stressful time but no. I’m first to reach for the Pringles and the chocolate ☹️
Emotional eaters typically lack the coping skills necessary to deal with stress, pain, fear, and loneliness and use food almost like a drug to deal with them. It’s so easy to get stuck in the vicious cycle of binging when your problems or symptoms become too overwhelming.
What makes a healthy eater?
It’s often a matter of good habits. Here are ten habits of healthy eaters you can adopt as your own:
Healthy eaters watch portion sizes.
In other words, they know that a portion of steak is the size of the palm of your hand and a half cup of fruit really means you eat half a cup rather than as much as you want. Monitoring portion sizes helps keep your body weight within normal limits. Even when it’s stuff like fruit!
Healthy eaters have colourful plates.
They recognise the value of colourful fruits and vegetables, especially orange, green and yellow fruits and vegetables. Each offers unique health opportunities and many colourful foods contain helpful antioxidants which scavenge for unhealthy oxygen free radicals in the body.
Healthy eaters take their time eating meals.
There is about a 20-minute lag time between the time you fill your stomach and your brain signals that your body has had enough food. If you eat slowly and mindfully, you can avoid the trap of overeating, indigestion, and weight gain. Try having a mouthful of water between every few forkfuls as this will slow you down. It also has the added bonus of being another glass of water you’ve drunk that day!
Healthy eaters recognise the value of small snacks.
Your energy levels can be impacted by the highs and lows of your blood sugar over the course of the day. When you incorporate healthy snacks into your diet, you avoid having too many highs and lows and have more energy throughout the day. This can help with focus, concentration and brain fog.
Healthy eaters don’t eat large evening meals.
It’s far better to have your bigger meal at lunch than it is to eat a large meal at 7 pm not long before you go to bed. This allows your body a chance to metabolise a large meal and avoids the trap of eating too much before sleeping—something that can lead to insomnia and acid indigestion. This is something the French have right. Lots of workplaces (including shops) close for lunch between 12 pm and 2 pm. Many people will have a 3-course lunch and then go back to work. In the evening they tend to just have what we would consider lunch food such as a sandwich or some soup. Good luck talking your boss into letting you have a 2-hour lunch though 😉.
Healthy eaters eat with others.
Food should be part of a social experience with an exchange of conversation happening while eating. It forces you to eat slower and it puts the meal in perspective as part of a social experience.
Healthy eaters focus on unsaturated rather than saturated fats.
In other words, they tend to lean toward plant oils when cooking and away from fats and oils that come from animals, including butter and cream. Saturated fats tend to raise cholesterol levels and are not particularly heart-healthy.
Healthy eaters eat dessert sparingly.
While topping off a good meal with a dessert seems like the right thing to do, it only adds empty calories to your diet and should instead be a rare treat on special occasions. Similarly, people who follow a healthy diet rarely go to fast-food restaurants or eat high-calorie nutrient-poor junk food, like crisps, doughnuts, sweets, and pop. Keep it as a treat rather than the norm.
Healthy eaters eat more fruits and vegetables than they do meat.
Meals should contain more fruits, vegetables and whole grains than they do meat products. This means using meat more sparingly as part of a larger vegetable dish rather than cooking a big slab of meat as the focus of the meal.
Healthy eaters choose whole grains.
Rather than existing on white bread and processed rice or pasta, the healthy eater chooses the whole grain variety. Whole grains are especially high in fibre, which helps your bowels move more easily. Foods high in soluble fibre like oats can also reduce cholesterol levels and help maintain a healthy weight. These types of carbs also release energy more slowly and consistently which again means better focus and concentration.
How about you….recognise any of the habits in yourself? If so you’re on the right track!! Keep up the good work and see how many more you can try that you aren’t already.