Proper Eating Habits
Food is one of life's greatest pleasures, and the fuel that keeps us going, which to fully enjoy and benefit from one must eat properly. Living without food is NOT possible, nor is living for it. We should learn both, when to eat and not to eat.
Fasting is the opposite of eating; we cannot separate one from the other since either alone causes troubles. Learning to fast and eat with pleasure is the key to healthy nutrition, organizing the relationship between us and food, because pleasure is what life is about, not eating, fasting ... or anything else.
1. Slow Eating
2. Eating Less
Naturally, our mind slows down during eating that we lose some self-control, particularly over eating speed (as Mother Nature is urging us to hurry up before rivals eat our food, or eat us). Thus, one can train themselves to take only smaller bites of whatever they chew—no need to hurry, no need to gulp:
Many times when something interrupts our meal, that we stop eating and start moving, we realize that we were already full, without noticing it. This is why it's advised to take several breaks during one's meal, else we keep eating to the point of pain, where pain becomes our reminder of fullness. (Pain is the teacher of a hopelessly lazy student who would submit to stick and miss the carrot.) It's the pleasure of eating mindlessly that keeps us bound to our plate, i.e. dopamine's euphoric yet addictive nature that ties us up to our dinner table and won't set us free except when we start feeling pain and nausea from overeating. (Hence the ancient wisdom of leaving your dinner with half-full stomach.)
Avoid or minimize foods that make you overeat, like salty or fiber-less foods, and increase instead fiber-rich and spicy foods. It's good to replace starch with fibers, and replace salt with spices or sugar/honey (in moderate amounts), whenever you can. Hot spicy foods are mostly harmless, but it's advisable to rinse your mouth off after eating any, to avoid consuming too much dessert afterwards, to counter-balance their heat (and extinguish their fire).
You should remember that there is no need to obsessively finish off your plate, either. There is no prize given to plate-cleaners. Don't let that strange pointless obsession make you spoil the pleasure of eating, exhaust your stomach, and unnecessarily pack on pounds. It won't hurt if you keep extra food as a leftover for the next day, or any day you like. It can give more diversity, of taste and nutrition, to later meals. Not to mention it saves your budget—although some social imbeciles find it too embarrassing (or below their class, real or virtual) not to throw away food. To escape that plate-polishing temptation, one should know and prepare in advance whatever they will eat. A good idea is to slice your loaf ahead, take a small amount of food on your plate ... and just take your time enjoying it.
One must eat silently too. Chewing and talking are mutually exclusive; they are difficult to master together, as one is sacrificed by the other. If sharing is inevitable, one can still enjoy the company of another person, in a silent, yet cozy atmosphere. (Perhaps some eye-contact with lip-smacking, accompanied by a few gestures of gratitude will suffice to make their meal complete—if the food is not tasty enough!) Business dinners should be completely avoided, unless conversation is postponed until dinner is finished, or the food part replaced with any other pleasurable activity accompanying the business discussion. When with others, one must stick adamantly to his/her own diet and not sacrifice his/her health to please someone else. (By the way, the same rule applies to sex.)
One should avoid any mind-absorbing activity while eating, such as watching TV, working on the computer, or any other occupation distracting them from the act of eating. If not possible, they must know in advance every bite that will find its way down their stomach. Hence they must devote a time every day for considering what they will have for their meal (in the morning for example, while they are still not hungry and their brain is not blinded by craving for food). Similarly, there must be a time for such consideration before buying and cooking, and not just before eating their food. This can be done once a week, but more or less it depends on their schedule. Shopping and cooking are safer done while we are not hungry, otherwise we end up buying junk food, and messing up what we are cooking (or at least not getting the optimal benefit and taste we want, since we are motivated then by animal urge—hunger—not human reasoning).
With all these security measures and precautions, it sounds as if one is about to risk their entire life, and not just have a simple meal! Well, it is a risk, albeit indirect and invisible, due to the time it takes before starting to harm our body, and life. Its danger is not immediately felt, like that of throwing oneself before a car, or jumping off a bridge! Eating absent-mindedly can be more dangerous than drunk driving. We must watch whatever objects we are throwing into that constantly gaping hole Nature has made in our face.
However, since we should enjoy food, we can combine it with another pleasure to make the food palatable. Let it be then one that causes minimal distraction, like a background music or a nice view of silent nature, or just the good presentation of food itself. Our eyes and ears can play an important role—but more important is the role played by our nose and tongue. We are teased by the appealing smell food has, especially when it's heated, blended or squeezed, releasing its own fragrance. Our tongue too, whose taste buds are stimulated by spicy and crispy foods, will send signals to the stomach to release acid and prepare for a better digestion. We just need some foreplay before we make love with food.
9. Occasional Binge
Satisfying our wildest food fantasies by occasional binging is both useful to body and mind. Physically, the body is deceived, as it keeps its high metabolism rates it had when we used to eat much, by burning much calories still, even though we now eat less. Mentally, our cravings get less and less as food loses its appeal to us as a forbidden fruit or a sinful pleasure. Above all, we keep enjoying to the fullest, and not miss one of life's great pleasures—food—that we just enjoy differently: more quality than quantity, and more tasting than swallowing.