Monday, February 2, 2009

You Are What You Ate

Did you know that it can take up to eight hours to digest one meal? If you ate breakfast at 6 a.m., your body won't finish metabolizing it until around 2 p.m. this afternoon. If you eat lunch at noon and dinner at six, you might be creating a bit of a traffic jam in your intestinal track. Not to be crude, but have you ever paid attention to a baby's elimination habits? They seem to pass what they eat and drink several times a day. Believe it or not, that's normal. In a 24 hour period, a person who has eaten 4 big meals could still have 2 or 3 of them in a holding pattern waiting to be broken down and absorbed by the small intestine. If there was a lot of sugar released into the bloodstream, it is being converted to fat. Often I hear people say that they will just work out extra tomorrow to "burn off" the double-fudge cakes, carbs, and alcohol consumed tonight. The problem with this strategy is that the weight gain that results from overeating and poor diet doesn't happen until the meals in question are digested--sometimes 2 or 3 days later.

I would like to offer some advice for those who would like to improve their eating habits. There are some very simple techniques that will allow your body to use food for fuel more effectively and avoid overloading it. Some simple changes will result in increased energy, better sleep, and an improved overall sense of well-being.

1) Eat the recommended number of servings from each food group daily (

2) Control your portions. Too much of a good thing is bad.

3) Stay well hydrated year-round. Hunger between meals is often a symptom of dehydration. Don't wait until you feel thirst to take a drink.

4) Eat foods that are high in fiber. This helps to keep you feeling satisfied and "keeps things moving." fresh fruits, vegetables, beans, and whole grains are good sources.

5) Cut refined sugar from your diet. The more you eat it, the greater your cravings. You will also avoid overtaxing your pancreas, liver, and kidneys in your body's attempt to digest it.

6) Go meatless (what?) once a week. It takes more time and energy to digest meat. Beans contain high protein and fiber without all of the bad fats. Here is a quick and easy recipe for you to try:

Vegetarian Lentil Savory

1 lb. dry lentils, 2 diced medium tomatoes

8 oz. tomato sauce, 2 cloves minced garlic

1 large carrot, peeled, 2 stalks celery

1/2 large white onion, 1/2 cup bell pepper (all colors) diced

1 teaspoon sage, 1/4 teaspoon red pepper

3 tbsp. olive oil, 2 tbsp. chili powder

sea salt, water to cover

1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce

Chop all vegetables and combine with beans and seasonings. Bring soup to a boil. Simmer for 25 minutes or until lentils are tender. Serves 8. Enjoy!

Be good to yourself! More next time...