December 2011

the 3/4 rule

This is the third post in a series entitled “Living Healthy”.  Each week we’re bringing you some tips that we’ve gathered over the years on how to stay healthy naturally.  For many years, our family has followed a few guidelines that have kept us away from MDs and allopathic medicines (AKA drugs).   People often ask us how we could go 20 years without ever going to the doctor for some disease or the other (the last time I went was for a physical to be on the swim team in high school).  This blog series is our chance to share that with you.

When it comes to eating, most of us eat with our eyes and not with our stomachs. What do I mean you say? Well, what I mean is that portionwise, we tend to eat according to how good the food looks and not how hungry we are. Although this fact might not seem like a huge problem, especially for those of us who are at least conscious of what we eat, it can actually have pretty big impacts on our long term health. In Ayurveda (Indian traditional medicine), it is said that the digestive system is where all disease begins. This system is where we take in the bulk of the nutrition for our body. When one overeats, the digestive system becomes overburdened, and has to try to process all that food quickly. The result is that although we might be eating highly nutritious food, we are not digesting all of that food properly.

When the digestive system is overburdened like this constantly, the body becomes sluggist, weak, and prone to disease, especially if it leads to constipation. To counter act this problem, many of us resort to digestive aids, laxatives, etc., which can actually make the problem worse (especially if you are using chemical laxatives like ex-lax).

To prevent overeating, I use what I call the 3/4 rule. Its pretty simple: only eat until you’re stomach is about 3/4’s full. What does that mean? Well, I’m sure you know what it feels like to be overstuffed. If you’re overstuffed, you have trouble taking deep breaths, feel like you can’t move, and you immediately start feeling a bit tired. Being full is basically the same thing, but to a lesser degree. But 3/4 full is very different. At 3/4 full, you are satisfied, but not hungry. You don’t feel like running, but you’re definitely okay with a brisk walk. And you are comfortable taking deep breaths. That’s 3/4 full.

To help you get to this goal, I’ve outlined a few steps to follow:

Chewing slowly and thoroughly is an imperative to good digestion. When you chew slowly, your food starts to break down even before it gets to your stomach. It also gets broken down into smaller pieces which your stomach can break down easily. Lastly, it helps you with the next step of this process which is to

Pay attention to your stomach. Periodically stop when you’re eating and take a look at how your stomach is feeling. If you’re no longer hungry, and feel satisfied with what you ate, its time to stop.

Finish chewing and swallowing till you pick up the next spoon. This will help you eat more slowly, and give you time to follow step #2.

The last step is the one I have the most trouble convincing people of:

Its better it gets wasted in the compost than wasted in your stomach. If you’re full, you’re full. There’s no point in “finishing it off” and “not letting it go to waste” if its just going to end up rotting in your stomach. Besides, you’re going to compost it anyways (right?).

So that’s it, 4 easy steps for keeping your body (and your mind) running smoothly, at least when it comes to mealtime. Hope you found this post helpful. If you have any questions or comments, please leave them in the comment section below, and I’ll be sure to get back to you.

 

This is the second post in a series entitled “Living Healthy”.  Each week we’re going to bring you some tips that we’ve gathered over the years on how to stay healthy naturally.  For many years, our family has followed a few guidelines that have kept us away from MDs and allopathic medicines (AKA drugs).   People often ask us how we could go 20 years without ever going to the doctor for some disease or the other (the last time I went was for a physical to be on the swim team in high school).  This blog series is our chance to share that with you.

During high school, when I really began to starting thinking about my health and how it was connected to my diet, one of the first steps I took was to replace all the refined, processed starches in my diet with whole grains.  To put it simply, I stopped eating white flour (think Wonderbread) and white rice and started eating 100% Whole Wheat bread and brown rice.  Both white flour and white rice are completely devoid of the nutritional value they once had as whole grains.  White flour is especially bad, because of the way its processed industrially.  If you take a look at the ingredient list of the standard white bread, you’ll often find the ingredient Enriched Wheat Flour.  Enrichment is a process which mechanically and chemically re-adds the nutrients lost when flour is industrially crushed down into a super fine powder.  In the end, what you get from this process is basically a sugary glue, ready to block up every passage way it comes into contact with (it makes you CONSTIPATED!).

So instead of eating these nutritionally dead foods, we recommend you stick with the following:

Whole Wheat Flour naturally contains all the nutrition is chemically added back into enriched flour, plus has loads of fiber to help you keep flowing.  If you want to go totally natural, look for spelt or kamut flour, which are basically old strains of wheat.  They contain less gluten and more nutrition than modern wheat varieties, and are much easier to digest.

Whole Rice is white rice that still has its jacket on.  Naturally, all rice is whole rice.  Heavy processing takes that jacket off removing all the nutrition and fiber.   Whole rice comes in many colors, most commonly brown, but also red, purple, black, and green.  Each of these rices have different nutritive qualities that cause the color variation.  Each of these whole rices have a unique flavor, usually very nutty.  Try brown jasmine rice with Asian food, brown basmati rice with Indian food, and black sticky rice with dessert.  Flavor and health (no constipation is a plus too).

So that’s it for this week. Pretty simple advice to follow: eat whole, keep flowing.