12 Principles of “Functional Eating”

For our ancient ancestors, eating wasn’t primarily social, nor was it even for enjoyment. Food’s main job was to nourish the body and give it strength to carry on the daily functions in life. In the autumn when food was plentiful, our ancestors gorged on nature’s bounty, storing up fat for the long, lean winter months ahead. Winter triggered their survival response to low food supply, reducing the metabolic rate to help conserve energy. In the spring, when food was abundant again, our ancestors ate moderate amounts frequently, and the body got the message that it could rev up the metabolism and there was no longer need to store fat.

Our food supply and eating habits may have changed dramatically since those ancient times, but our bodies are very much the same. By learning how your body is genetically programmed to react to the amount and type of food you eat, you can practice what we call ‘functional eating.’ That’s when food’s primary purpose is to make your body feel great and function optimally.

Here are some tenets of functional eating:

Eat fewer calories at a sitting.
If you think eating a giant heap of grains, beans, and vegetables is wise, think again. Eating too many calories in one meal – even if they’re healthy calories – sends your brain the message that leaner times must be around the corner, so those calories will get stored as fat.

Eat frequently.
In terms of survival genetics, eating small amounts of healthy foods throughout the day tells your brain that the food supply is plentiful, so it’s okay to burn through those calories quickly.

Don’t restrict calories.

Don’t skip meals so you can have that piece of chocolate cake later. Your body responds as if it’s facing a food shortage and your metabolism slows way down to prevent you from starving.

Eat good-looking food.
Studies show that visually appealing food sends messages to the brain that allows your body to absorb and utilize it much better than the same food presented in an unappealing form.

Don’t skip the fat.
Eating the right amount of fat helps you burn fat, but eating too little fat has the opposite effect. Studies show that people on low-fat diets often put on extra body fat because they replace fat with carbohydrate calories, which get stored in the body as fat and depress fat burning.

Avoid blood sugar spikes.
If you eat simple carbohydrates or high glycemic foods, such as fruit juices, refined grain products, or sugary snacks, your body releases insulin, which converts extra sugar in the blood into fat, and then stores it in all the places you’d rather not have extra padding.

Drink lots of water.
Yes, water is a food. The body needs water for virtually all of its functions. Drinking plenty of water will flush your body of toxins, keep your skin fresh, and help you eat less.

Think fiber.
Prevent blood sugar highs and lows by eating carbohydrates that are absorbed slowly and have their naturally occurring fiber still intact. Examples are whole grains, legumes, and fruits such as apples and berries.

Eat slowly.
Eating slowly gives the food time to start digesting and moving out into your body. This helps your body send signals to your brain, telling it to stop when you’ve truly had enough.

Eat colorful foods.
Our ancestors ate as many varied foods as they could find in their environment. To absorb the most nutrients, eat real greens (dark leafy vegetables such as kale, spinach, and collards) and other colorful fruits and vegetables (orange/yellow, red, blue/purple, and white).

Eat enough protein.
Eating the right amount of complete protein for your weight and activity level stabilizes blood sugar, enhances concentration, and keeps you lean and strong. A complete protein is any animal and dairy product or a grain plus a legume (such as whole grain bread with nut butter, or corn tortilla with beans). Our book has a formula to calculate your own daily protein needs.

Eat with gratitude.
Our ancestors had a profound relationship with their food – they hunted it, gathered it, planted it, picked it, and stored it. For us, food is abundant so we take it for granted. That’s why we overeat, eat unhealthfully, or eat for reasons other than for nourishment. One way to regain your ancient connection to food is to be grateful for it and give thanks before you eat.

Reposted from fitandfabliving.com

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