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Healthy eating habit to ditch the bikini body ready slogan!

Here at beingwell we’re not super into the whole bikini-body-ready vibe, but we can definitely recognise how much pressure we can feel under as we head towards summer. You might be inclined or even feel sucked into the ads and marketing to get bikini-body-ready, but we know how unsustainable these can be and how defeated they can leave us! Read on for more…

We know with summer round the corner, the pressure to look a certain way, to lose a few pounds and to be bikini-body-ready is rife. It’s that time of year when we all start thinking a bit more about what we’re eating, and possibly how we’re eating, but it usually stems from diet culture (the culture of fad dieting). These unsustainable, restrictive, rigid plans to curb your appetite, tone the wobbles and drop dress sizes in time to get on the beach or by the pool without guilt.

But here’s the thing. More often than not, these types of fad diets lead to exactly that. Guilt, and then shame and that inner critic getting louder. When we restrict or try to be very strict with our diets we usually find it difficult to stick too, and feel absolutely rubbish when we haven’t achieved the goals. And we are not fans of this, to say the least, and it’s why we at Beingwell encourage realistic goals, the small steps that build foundations to healthier habits - that we can then actually maintain and see results!

Like healthier eating habits, that’s something we can get on board with. While dieting and restriction can easily be mistaken for healthy eating, we asked Jenny Tschiesche, the Lunchbox Doctor, for her top tips on how to tweak our eating habits and the secret:

“It's not so much about what you eat, but how you eat.”

She told us this:

One of the most common areas that people create resolutions around in springtime is healthy eating. That’s likely linked to the slight indulgence many of us enjoy over the winter and festive period.

But, focusing on abstinence, reducing calorie intake, cutting out sugar or going low carb for example is likely to be a struggle. One of the best ways to achieve healthier eating is to create new habits, not restrictions. What can make these new habits even easier to form is if they’re based on the way we eat and drink, not what we eat and drink.

Oh, and by the way, once you change the way you eat, what you eat tends to change too, but without really having to try too hard. Buzzing! Here are some of the ways in which you can positively impact food and drink choices by changing the way you go about preparing and consuming your meals:

Eat together

This may mean sharing meals with friends, a partner or as a family but what it doesn’t mean is sitting and working whilst eating alone. A variety of studies on the benefits of eating together show that people typically have fewer depressive symptoms, emotional difficulties and better emotional wellbeing when they frequently eat together. Another study shows that family’s who eat together 3 or more times a week are more likely to have healthier relationships with eating compared to those who don’t.

Jenny’s tip: Try and enjoy several meals a week with at least one other person, maybe even more! This comes easier in this time of the year, when we can easily pack some lunch and eat it outdoors in a green space with a friend or colleague.

Eat slowly

Most of us eat too quickly really. But slowing down to eat improves digestion, hydration, weight management, and we can even get greater satisfaction with our meals. Eating more slowly gives your body time to recognise that you are full. It takes about 20 minutes from the start of a meal for the brain to send out signals of satiety.

Jenny’s tip: To get started with eating more slowly it may help to carry out a mindful eating exercise. Give it a go with a morsel of food to get started - a raisin, peanut, a tomato. Explore it in your hands and then mouth, ideally with your eyes closed but if that’s too much focus on something undistracting. Then start chewing, slowly. Make the practice last as long as possible by building it up each time.

Now, you’re not likely to eat a meal like this - because let’s be realistic, who’s got the time - but this is a good exercise to practice slowing down and a reminder of the benefits when it does come to dinner time.

Prepare some meals yourself

Think of digestion as a chain reaction. As soon as we see, smell or even think about food we start salivating to prepare for putting that food in our mouths. Saliva contains enzymes that break the food down and moisten the mouth for easier swallowing. Your stomach starts to secrete more acid and the small intestine starts to get ready for processing food too. Now we’ll not deny that preparing meals ourselves can be time (and energy) consuming sometimes so the appeal of a ready meal, something beige, or a takeaway is strong. But that time it takes to prepare dinner actually aids digestion and nutrient absorption - the process above happens at a healthier rate because the body has time to prepare too.

Jenny’s tip: Try preparing some meals or snacks yourself. Or even try to be in the same room whenever meals are being prepared as this will help your body to be more efficient at breaking down food and absorbing nutrients.

Ditch the distractions

Jeffrey Brunstrom, a researcher in behavioural nutrition at the University of Bristol, carried out research in which 22 volunteers played solitaire whilst eating a meal. Another 22 ate the same meal without any distractions. Those playing did far worse in recalling what they had eaten as well as feeling substantially less full. When offered biscuits half an hour later, they ate twice as many as those who weren’t distracted while eating. Brunstrom said, “memory plays an important role in the regulation of food intake, and distractions during eating disrupt that.” You could definitely still take a couple of biscuits if offered, but you’ll feel more satisfied without whatever distractions go on at your house.

Jenny’s tip: When you are eating meals don’t sit with your phone or TV on. Be present, enjoy some conversation, two birds one stone here for eating with someone by the way!

Eat until 80% full

Did you know feeling full and satisfying our appetite are very different? Generally, we tend to associate feeling full with having had enough to eat. But elsewhere in the world, it is common practice to fill up to 80%, in places known as ‘Blues Zones’ where people live over 100 years. Eating to 80% full means eating what your body truly needs. It helps with appetite regulation, improves satisfaction of food and digestion.

Jenny’s tip: Eating slowly will help you notice when you feel more like 80% full - and less full or “stuffed”. Just think you could get a letter from the Queen with this one, but it may not come easy to us straight away, so give it go and keep practising.

Final thoughts: At this time of the year the formation of new habits around the way that you eat can reap great rewards. The discussed ideas are all great ways to improve your satisfaction from food, your health, and your nutritional status. And once more for those in the back, to ditch the bikini-body-ready slogan for good! Remember, to get a bikini-body you need a bikini and a body, not a new number of the scales, a smaller waist or a peachier behind!




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