Eat LESS to live LONGER. There, we said it! You can stop reading right here, OR join us for the great snack debate…
Let us get straight to the point by quoting the legendary South African golfer, Gary Player:
“More people die today from too much food than from too little.” – Mr. Player is 80 years old, a self-professed 90% vegetarian who performs 1,300 sit-ups a day – that’s better stamina than most 20 year-olds! Luckily, we’re slowly starting to pay attention to what constitutes healthy foods and learning some new positive habits (such as reintroducing good fats into our diet). But when all is said and done, we’re still fighting the self-inflicted battle with the diabetes, cancer and heart-disease epidemic on a global scale!
And it’s all because, as the saying goes: too much of a good thing can kill you! Apart from over-filling our plates at meal times and eating until we’re in a food coma, we are now also intentionally filling in the meal gaps with snacks, because – low and behold – we might feel the onset of hunger at any point and collapse on the spot! Grazing is now firmly embedded in our lifestyles and our psyche! And we’re not talking about enjoying an occasional chocolate or rusk; we’re talking routine auto-pilot snacking. Manufacturers have perpetuated the myth that hunger is bad and unhealthy, and we constantly need food within quick and easy reach to survive the day or everything would suffer: our attention span, metabolism and even our waistlines! Enter healthy snacks: nuts, fresh or dried fruits, yogurts, smoothies, gluten-free biscuits, and (sugar-laden) energy bars. And don’t get us started on the pre- and post-workout shakes! Just when did we become so terrified of using our own energy stores to move?
The modern approach to maintaining energy levels and keeping the metabolism ticking over has become so popular that it is now firmly established as the rule of thumb for all “healthy” diets: eat less, but often. No questions asked. However, from the biological point of view, this frequent grazing leads to a constant flow of surplus calories which is not natural for our bodies. It also puts a huge strain on all our organs to work overtime. In other words: for cells to recuperate and live longer, we must give our body a rest!
It’s really crucial to recognise that feeling hungry is meant to be normal and we are perfectly programmed to cope with it – in fact, dating all the way back to our ancestors’ age when it was feast or famine. Our very presence as a species is due to the fact that humans were able to endure long periods of time without food, and we still can! So if you don’t snack and allow yourself to feel hungry between meals (as nature intended) your body will be forced to burn off the stored fat for energy – something we’re all on a quest to achieve with expensive gym memberships anyway!
Fat is the most precious source of fuel for the body. This calm, non-emergency fuel burns slowly providing steady energy for many hours straight. By contrast, sugar burns quickly and high G.I. carbohydrates (fruits, biscuits, crisps) provide quick bursts of energy but then lead to an energy slump – which begs a quick fix with another snack! The only time our metabolism recalibrates is at night – when we sleep, our digestive system can rest and stabilise our blood sugar (a natural fast which is broken in the morning – hence the name: break|fast).
And there’s one other consideration: our age. One of the unfortunate realities of getting older is that it’s much harder to get away with over-eating because we need less energy to maintain the physiological equilibrium in our 40’s than we did in our 20’s; plus our bodies become less and less efficient at digesting and metabolising.
So here are a few tried and tested MYHRU tips to avoid snacking and break the habit:
- when you feel hungry, don’t panic! It will go away soon for a little while;
- learn to recognise various levels of hunger and you’ll soon be able to read the true hunger signals;
- realign your meal timings to complement your body and age (it IS perfectly okay to skip breakfast if you’re simply not hungry);
- make every meal count: eat nutritious low G.I. food to keep your blood sugar stable; (check out our nutritious and filling smoothie here!)
- eat slowly and mindfully, enjoying every bite, and stopping when you’re full (not stuffed!);
- drink water in between meals! Very often thirst can be mistaken for hunger.