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What is on your food menu this week, this month?


Do you find it difficult to resist food?


YOU ARE NOT ALONE!


Why is this such a huge challenge? Well – it tastes, smells and looks good and it gives us such a positive rush. We also want in when we see other people eating pizza, ice cream, and chips…..and then we overeat and feel guilty….


We know that what we’re eating may not be healthy, but resisting the temptation feels impossible. There’s good reason for that. We are bombarded by food cues all the time, from all around us and even from inside our brains. And the message is never – “yummy fruit”; “mmmmm kale chips”. It’s not an easy battle, but being aware of this is the first step in the right direction and helps us realise that just “trying harder” is not likely to be enough for us to succeed.


Kathy McManus, director of the department of nutrition at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, says "It’s not about willpower. It’s about developing skill sets." We need to have the intention to change our eating behaviour, to be aware of what the possible pitfalls are and what is needed to succeed in this endeavour, and to plan carefully to help ourselves towards our goal.


One important question we should ask before embarking on this journey is:


Why do we eat when we’re not hungry?


Sometimes we are merely consuming, stuffing our face. When we are stressed, anxious, tired, bored, sad, the body releases cortisol, which may stimulate our appetite. As a result, we may resort to food. And the food we crave is generally high in salt, fat and / or sugars which stimulate the release of dopamine in our brain. Reaching for these kinds of comfort foods may become a habit.


And to add to it, these types of foods seem to be so readily available and accessible – wherever you turn your head you can find these foods in convenient, easy-to-eat and easy-to-carry packages!


So how can we break these habits of ours? First of all, we need to start by acknowledging that changing our eating habits and patterns is not an easy task. The next important thing we need to do is understand our patterns of behaviour. What leads us to buy these kinds of foods? When are we most likely to buy these snacks or food items that will throw all our good intentions into the wind?


Maybe we may have a busy day, rushing around and at a certain stage, we succumb and grab some “pastizzi” or a pizza on the go? Maybe we rushed to the supermarket to grab some items and the goodies at the cash till were “calling out to us”…..


The first step to break this cycle is to be aware of what you are eating and try to understand when and why. So we would recommend that for a few days, track what you eat, when, the amount you ate and also what led to that meal or snack. What was happening before you ate? And how did you feel AFTER you ate? This will help you understand your cues, what motivates you to eat. It could be that when you sit down in front of TV, you feel you need something to nibble on, or when you are sitting in your car in traffic, you may feel like passing the time with a snack. Once you understand what is motivating you to eat, you can help yourself by being more self-aware and creating a defense to such temptations.

Too many times, people eat when they are doing other stuff – for example, you may eat while you are on the phone and then it ends up being a “gobble, gobble” of the food without any appreciation or mindfulness of what we are eating and we tend to overeat in this situation. We should take a leaf out of the French’s and Italians’ book where food is concerned – both these nationalities have the utmost respect for food and in fact, they insist on “dropping tools” religiously for at least an hour at lunchtime to give food their just attention.


We may not have time to dedicate a full hour to our lunch, but it makes sense to create a specific time and space where you can sit down and savour your food. Chew thoroughly and taste your food as this also allows your brain to register the food and makes you feel fuller and more satisfied.


An important help is also to identify your weaknesses and plan for them. If you know that you like to snack in the car, make sure that you have an apple or some healthy snacks such as nuts handy that you can dip into rather than rushing into a handy grocer to buy some salty snacks. Similarly during TV time, you may want to peel a tangerine or grab a handful of sultanas – it’s amazing how quick you can make new habits if you are determined.

The key to your success is the planning – you need to make some time to plan your food for the week ahead. Dedicate an hour or two per week to think about what you plan to eat; make a shopping list and go to the supermarket to make sure that you have at hand the ingredients for your healthy choices.


Invest in some plastic containers so you can prepare small healthy snacks that you can carry around with you to shore up your defenses for those dangerous moments – in the car, at work when you are feeling stressed.


And don’t attempt to be too ambitious.


You do not need to rule out ALL the foods that you love. Be realistic and make small achievable changes. You can still have things like ice cream and cake, but try to associate these with a celebration or a treat to yourself rather than something for every day. One tip is also to use smaller utensils – use a smaller spoon and let the treat sit on your tongue so you savour it and enjoy it for longer rather than just scoffing it down! You’d be surprised how you can be satisfied with a much smaller portion than you would be usually used to in this way.

One last tip: when you think of eating something, take a deep breath and think – “Do I really want that?”; “How many minutes at the gym or walking on the treadmill will I need to burn off the calories from that?”. Such a pause may often be the little push you need to make better food decisions. And use your social network to support you – maybe find a friend or a relative who also wants to embark on a similar journey and you can support each other and compare notes.


Don’t worry if you succumb to temptation.


As they say, Rome wasn’t built in a day! We fall and get up to “fight” another day – don’t be disheartened, especially at the beginning. Baby steps….it’s a slow process until we learn new habits and over time, if you stick with it and persevere, you will see a big difference.


Good luck!!


How is your physical health? We recommend annual medical and blood screening to ensure that you can maintain your quality of life.


Clinipath Medical Laboratories can provide your organisation with a Company Health Program that can gauge the function of major organs and can identify some risks at an early stage. This will ensure that your employee’s health is safeguarded, and if needs be monitored regularly.


If you would like information contact us today on +356 21221355, 9985 2404 or send an email on info@clinipath.com.mt for more information.



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