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Healthy eating habits are an important part of maintaining a strong immune system. As cold and flu season get underway, breaking poor eating habits can not only prevent sickness, but also give you more energy, make you feel better about yourself, and help you live a healthier life. Ara DerMarderosian, PhD, professor of pharmacognosy for University of the Sciences in Philadelphia and an expert in nutraceuticals and natural foods, provides guidance to change how you eat and break habits that pack on the pounds and compromise immunity.
Dr. DerMarderosian suggests the following healthy eating basics:
▪ Don’t play “food police”: Be conscious of what and how much you eat, but don’t overdo self-monitoring to the point that a healthy lifestyle shifts from being a choice to becoming overwhelming, pushing other activities away and interfering with relationships.
▪ Pay attention to true hunger: Listen to your hunger signals and refrain from eating when you’re not hungry. We often eat out of habit or on a time schedule, but eating when your body doesn’t need food can cause you to overindulge as it reduces the level of satisfaction gained from eating, which is how we know when to stop.
▪ Eat slowly: Eat like a gourmet - savor each bite, chew methodically, and truly enjoy the taste of your food. Eating slowly gives your body time to break down the food, which can prevent post-meal indigestion and feeling bloated. You’re also likely to eat less if you eat slowly, as your stomach takes roughly 20 minutes to register that it’s full.
▪ Focus on eating: Refrain from watching television, reading, working, and doing other distracting activities while you eat. When you’re not focused on eating, it’s unlikely you’ll notice how much is going in your mouth and you can easily eat twice the amount you intended.
▪ Avoid eating when stressed: Stress is a well-known cause of overeating and digestive issues, such as heartburn. A relaxing atmosphere, enjoyable company and conversation, and not feeling rushed for time makes for a healthy meal.
▪ Everything in moderation: You can enjoy your favorite sweets and indulgences in moderation, and as a modest part of an overall healthy diet. Eating food is pleasurable, so enjoy a few morsels of candy, but limit the quantity.