Lose Weight and Gain Years: 5 Ways to Eat like a Centenarian

Is it possible to be overfed and undernourished? Take a look at the modern obesity epidemic that is tipping our nation’s scales, and it becomes clear that, yes, it is possible! The obesity crisis is relatively new and goes hand in hand with our modern processed foods that are big on fat, simple sugars, and empty calories—and small on nutrients. You can keep your weight and longevity on track by following the tried-and-true healthy eating habits of centenarians. This month, lose weight and gain years with one simple habit: eat until your stomach is three-quarter’s full. Read on to find 4 more longevity eating habits to increase your life span.

This is the ninth habit in the 2011 Longevity Program, a yearlong plan of monthly activities that come from the habits of centenarians from around the world. The idea of this program is that by choosing a simple activity and doing it every day, you will gradually develop 12 new healthy habits by the end of the year. Would you like to do the whole year program? Look at my previous Yahoo! Blog “The Longevity Resolution: Live to 100”.

If you are interested in a more formal longevity program, check out my newest book Secrets of Longevity 8-Week Program, a journal that will transform your health and lengthen your years.


September’s Habit: Stop eating when your stomach is three-quarter’s full

Here’s why: Something that many centenarians have in common is that they eat small portions. Throughout time, many centenarians had very modest means, and as a result, ate smaller meals. They often stopped eating once their stomachs were three-quarter’s full—a far cry from the super-sized portions of today. Overindulgence in fatty high-calorie, low-nutrition food leads to obesity and a higher risk for heart disease and stroke. Eating less improves your overall digestion by boosting metabolism and allowing you to absorb nutrients from your food. Try to control the amount of food you consume at every meal by chewing slowly and stopping when your stomach is three-quarter’s full. Make sure to include a serving of lean protein, healthy fat, carbohydrates, and fiber at each meal.


More ways to eat like a centenarian:

1. Just chew it. Your stomach does not have teeth! Digestion begins in your mouth when you chew your food. Help your digestive system do its job by chewing each bite 20 to 30 times before swallowing. Taking time to chew slows down how quickly you eat, helping you avoid the overindulgence that leads to weight gain and poor digestion.

2. Eat sitting down. Centenarians are often very hard workers, but they know the importance of eating when it is time to eat. Do not eat at your computer or on the run. Focus on the flavor and texture of the food. This way you will not overeat.

3. Be aware at mealtime. In many of the cultures that have lots of centenarians, it is customary to say a prayer over the food before eating. It doesn’t have to be a prayer—simply take a pause before you eat to recognize how the food is giving your body energy. Even this brief moment will set the tone for a mindful meal, keeping your mood relaxed and helping you digest your food better. Never eat if you are nervous or upset.

4. Focus on nutrition. Foodmakers know that certain tastes will keep you diving back into the snack bag for more. Your tongue might be happy, but these processed snacks will never satisfy your body’s need for critical nutrients. You will feel healthier and more energetic if you eat for nutrition. Crunch on carrots and hummus instead of chips. Eat a banana instead of a cookie.

Bonus tip: Keep your digestion running smoothly by drinking teas made with herbs like mint, ginger, and gentian. Or, harness the power of digestive herbs with specialized herbal blends that boost digestion, including Abundant Energy: The Digestion Formula.


Stay on track

To stay on course, ask yourself these questions each day. Keeping a written record of daily answers will help you stick to the plan and may give you helpful insights that will keep you inspired.

• Think of a reward for yourself if you follow the plan almost every day; write it down. You will be more likely to follow through with your goal when there is a perk at the end.

• Are you remembering to mind your portions? What has the experience been like?

• How do you feel today compared to the previous day? How about to one week ago? You may notice that you are feeling a little more energetic, especially after meals.

• What obstacles are keeping you from practicing this habit every day? What can you do to get around the obstacle?


Make it happen! An answer for every excuse

Miss a day? Sometimes a bad habit can really have a hold on you. If you forget to minimize your portion sizes for a day or two this month, it does not make you a failure! Let it go. What can you do differently for more successful results? Recommit, make adjustments, and continue where you left off. Don’t ever give up!

Too difficult to slow down and eat less. If you have developed a habit of wolfing down your meal, only to find your eyes were bigger than your stomach, here are a few tricks to help you slow down. Put your fork or spoon down between each bite to give you more time to chew. Drink a glass of water before your meal—this will help you feel more full, so that you will be less inclined to ravenously attack your plate. When you are eating out, get a takeout container at the beginning of the meal and put half of your meal in it. Order an appetizer for your main meal or share an entree with a friend.


On the last day of the month: If you have been remembering to stop eating when you are three-quarter’s full and eating more slowly, it is likely that you have created new digestive-friendly habit. Keep up the good work! Stay tuned for October, where you will learn some nearly painless strategies for cutting back on the simple sugars that make our energy levels crash and pack on unwanted pounds. Look for my monthly articles to guide you through a healthy and happy 2011.

You can find more ways to live a long and healthy life in Secrets of Longevity: Hundreds of Ways to Live to Be 100, which is now available on Kindle. In addition, The Natural Health Dictionary makes a great companion to your quest for longevity. It is a comprehensive guide that answers all your questions about natural remedies, healing herbs, longevity foods, vitamins, and supplements.

I invite you to visit often and share your own personal health and longevity tips with me.

May you live long, live strong, and live happy!

—Dr. Mao

This blog is meant to educate, but it should not be used as a substitute for personal medical advice. The reader should consult his or her physician or clinician for specific information concerning specific medical conditions. While all reasonable efforts have been made to ensure that all information presented is accurate, as research and development in the medical field is ongoing, it is possible that new findings may supersede some data presented.

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