Week 38 Blog- Eat to Thrive

Dictionary.com stated the meaning of thrive is “to prosper; to grow or develop vigorously; flourish.” I know most of us try, every day, to thrive socially and emotionally. What about physically?

Look at unhealthy habits- most people know what they should be doing and not be doing. It comes down to how do you want the rest of your life to play out? How we fuel our body, the exercise we incorporate, the attitude in which you look at your health will be 1 of two outcome. The first option is eat what you want, eat as much as you want, exercise when you “feel like it”, let your meals just happen- no planning. That outcome for a majority of people is full of doctor visits, medications and major medical conditions. It is called the Western diet and lifestyle. OR the second option is fueling your body to run with 100% whole grains, ancient grains, vibrant colored fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, nuts/seeds and low-fat dairy such as yogurt, incorporate MOVEing into your daily schedule, SCHEDULE your family meals at the home table and what our focus is today- eat to thrive/succeed and possibly a longer life!


Preliminary research from a small clinical trial at Pennington Biomedical Research in Baton Rouge, La., suggests that putting less on your dinner plate each day might be key to a longer life. People who reduced their caloric intake by just 15 percent over two years saw improvements in biomarkers associated with slower aging and longer life span, said lead researcher Leanne Redman, an associate professor of clinical sciences at Pennington Biomedical Research. She went on to say “Specifically, they developed a lower core body temperature, lower blood sugar and insulin levels, and significant drops in hormones that moderate metabolism, researchers reported. "We know these things are lower in people who live longer lives."


Another PEER-REVIEWED study published in the Public Library of Science from February 8, 2022, concluded that “According to the model the researchers developed, if a 20-year-old male began eating an optimized diet that emphasized fruits, veggies, and plant-based proteins, he could add as much as 13 extra years to his life, and a female of the same age could add an extra 10 years. Researchers highlighted high sodium intake and low intake of whole grains, fruits, and vegetables as major contributors to our health crisis. “The largest gains would be made by eating more legumes, whole grains and nuts, and less red and processed meat. For older people, the gains would be smaller but substantial. Even the feasibility approach diet (1/2 way between an optimal diet and our typical western diet) indicates increased LE by 7% or more for both sexes across age groups.  https://journals.plos.org/plosmedicine/article?id=10.1371/journal.pmed.1003889


A study published in October 2020 in the European Heart Journal Quality Care Clinical Outcomes concluded that two-thirds of heart disease–related deaths worldwide can be linked to our food choices. The authors estimated that six million deaths could have been avoided through better diets.  https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33017008/


So, the point is clear- eat less with optimal fueling and live longer. Here are 8 quick tips to not only encourage smaller portions and healthier fueling, but also ignite your progress!


1.            Begin a meal with a glass of water- drink about 16 ounces to fill your stomach with water, so naturally you eat less.  Most people often misunderstand the symptoms of dehydration with the symptom of being hungry. Drinking a glass of water before eating might decrease your “hunger” altogether. Also, sip water to make the meal last longer.

2.            Train yourself- step by step- with smaller portions- use smaller plate and glass size for your main course. Try the Hand-Sized Portion Guide- Your hand is unique to you.  So, the portions should be just right for you. You use your palm to judge your protein serving. Your fist is a serving of vegetables. Carb dense foods is a cupped hand. And your thumb represents a serving of fat. Quick guideline-Women can start off with one portion of each for a meal; males, two servings of each. Besides portion control, the color of your plate may make a difference. It is shown that when a certain plate and the food on it had a low color-contrast, people served themselves at about 22% more than when there was a higher color-contrast. This suggest that if you want to eat less, you should opt for the plates which have a dull color (white, cream, grey) and serve foods with a high color-contrast (deep, vibrant colored foods- that excludes colored food wrappers!

3.            Train yourself to eat slowly. This is my problem!! By gulping your food, we eat more than our body really needs. Slow down and enjoy every bite. You can feel satisfied with less food. Chew each bite completely and pause for a few seconds before you take another bite. Doing this through your entire meal will absolutely encourage you to eat far less than you normally would. In interesting study- The bacteria in your gut may be telling you something. Twenty minutes after a meal, gut microbes produce proteins that can suppress food intake in animals. The researchers also show how these proteins injected into mice and rats act on the brain reducing appetite, suggesting that gut bacteria may help control when and how much we eat.  Gut & Brain Laboratory in France states "Our study shows that bacterial proteins from E. coli can be involved in the molecular pathways that are used by the body to signal satiety, and now we need to know how an altered gut microbiome can affect this physiology." https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/11/151124143330.htm  I will reinforce not only my research, the RefineMEnt microbiome 3 part series but also all the research on gut-brain axis and the gut microbiome in your overall health!!

4.            Look at your meal environment- Turn off any distractions- TV, phone, movies, emails, games etc.- you eat more when not focusing. Try relaxing music so you will be able to enjoy a more leisurely meal. Take your time to increase your enjoyment as you reduce your portions. As my mom always reminded us-Put down your fork between your bites.

5.            Add some spice to your meal- Bland food can be boring- so spice it up. According to a study, people tend to eat 60 fewer calories if cayenne pepper is added to the tomato soup they consume. Spices help suppress your own appetite and they can boost metabolism and also help you use less salt.

6.            End a meal with a different sweet- try a new ritual after meals to signal that you are done eating. Brew a flavorful decaf tea or herbal tea such as cinnamon, peppermint, chocolate or one of your own favorite fruity varieties for no- or low-calories yet that sweet finisher. See podcast week 27 for tea time.

7.            Learn your hunger cues- We overeat when we’ve lost touch with our hunger cues. Do you honestly know the feeling of being hungry? Most American do not! We get sad, stressed or even happy, and we think we’re hungry. Maybe for years you have been told what to eat and when to eat. You may have learned to ignore your hunger cues. Let’s think and keep a record for a week on the following- How you are feeling in terms of hunger and your reason to eat(cues) 1. Just before eating 2. Immediately after eating. Record if you are hungry, portions and what you ate and you’re feeling when done. We can then change your emotional relationship with food. Good, bad and ugly! If you tend to have several episodes of unwanted eating events, you can focus on braking that chain. Something will trigger that unwanted episode such as getting home late from work after a stressful day, feeling overwhelmed with family needs or family event. Write down what you were feeling before, during and after the episode. It can help you track situations and feelings that trigger an episode. Once you know what triggers the episode, you can build strategies to avoid overeating when these triggers appear.

8.            Shop after a meal or snack and don’t buy or bring home any foods that you feel out of control with. The good ole saying- out of sight out of mind is true!! With the cost of food skyrocketing, leave the problem at the store and put that money toward your health!

Summary today- eating less -even ½ way optimal fueling -has been proven to add years to your life. We must focus on not only what we eat, but how we eat, when we eat, what triggers us to emotionally eat and make eating less a priority for your health.