Common Sense Success
Mental Success

1. Moderate don’t eliminate

Do you like M&M’s chocolate candies? Do you like sweet cinnamon buns hot out of the oven dripping with creamy icing? Do you like hot buttery popcorn? Do you like a juicy Prime Porterhouse steak cooked slow over fire and served with a steaming baked potato? You’re not alone. And even better news is that good eating habits don’t require you to eliminate your favorite foods from you diet (unless of course a doctor says so).

Want to improve your eating habits? Don’t quit eating what you love. Just reduce your portions. Eat only half the one serving bag of candies and put the other half up to reward yourself later. Order the 8oz steak instead of the 12oz. Share your bag of popcorn with someone.

When you learn to moderate your portions you can then learn to slow down your eating of those portions (habit number two).

2. Slow things down

There are two ways you can eat slowly. One is to literally take more time to chew your food. The other more social meaning of this is to take more time for the whole process of serving and eating a meal.

Did your parents ever tell you to quit gulping your food and chew more? It is good advice. The more you chew your food the easier it is for your body to break it down and make use of the nutrients. Remember, the main reason you are eating is for fuel not for fun.  Although there is nothing wrong with having fun eating!

Maybe just as important is the need to slow down the mealtime in general. One way you can do this is by taking the time to arrange your meal on plates and sit at a table. This may seem wildly obvious to some but to others this may sound like you have just been asked to run through the neighborhood in your boxer shorts. Just the activity of setting a table and putting food in dishes slows the process down. It is good for digestion and helps you get the most out of the nutrients.

Not only does slowing things down help with digestion, it also helps your brain catch up with your body. When you eat rapidly you run the risk of eating more than your body needs (habit number one) because you don’t give your body enough time to tell you it has had all it wants. This is especially true with children. If you help a child slow it down and chew slowly you will help them build a habit where their body can tell them they have had enough.

The best way to slow any meal down is to share the meal with other people (habit number three). Unless you are rude and talk with your mouth full you will have to slow things down in order to talk!

3. Get everyone together

Sadly in the United States many people only share meals with others during holidays or business dinners. But you don’t have to wait till Christmas to get everyone together and have a meal. You can do it this right now.

When you sit and socialize over a meal it helps slow down the eating process (habit number two), which contributes to good digestion. Socializing over a meal is also great for reducing stress and building stronger relationships.

One thing about bad eating habits, especially in North America, is that people often eat for comfort. When we are getting along better with each other we don’t eat for comfort as much.

4. Schedule it don’t skip it

It is better to eat six small meals a day than one giant meal. But better yet to eat three well-balanced meals a day with scheduled snacks in between.

When you skip meals you increase your hunger and run the risk of overeating when you do eat (habit number one). You overeat because you feel more hungry and because you usually rush with your meal and don’t give your body time to inform your brain you have eaten all your body needs (habit number two).

It is better to eat regular, smaller meals and to schedule snacks in between those meals.

There is something to be said about eating at regular times. A good routine can help you build mental continuity that reduces stress. Scheduling snacks especially can be a good habit because then you will be less likely to snack too much.

Sugars, fats and salt

A bonus habit is to reduce the amount of sugar, fat and salt you eat. You don’t have to become obsessed with reading labels and keeping lists, just generally watch your eating habits so you reduce some of these things. Less sugar, fat and salt never hurt anyone unless you were climbing Mount Everest (Random note: Mt. Climbers attempting to summit on Mt. Everest require so many calories per day due to altitude and exertion that they carry milk chocolate and sticks of raw butter with them to eat!).

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