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As a child, I always saved the ‘best’ for last. I would begrudgingly eat the vegetables, choke down the red meat, and then get to the bread. “Why do you eat one thing at a time?” they would ask. A part of me didn’t like to mix the flavors, but a bigger part of me simply wanted to savor what I found the tastiest.
What I realized many years later was that I was doing it right all along!
As noted in his book ‘Eat Move Sleep’, Tom Rath points out what now seems sort of obvious. If you fill your belly with the good stuff first, like vegetables and whole grains, then you’ll be less likely to finish the not-so-good stuff.
For example, you have a salad (with minimal oil-based dressing), a white meat protein (let’s say chicken), and a baked potato. Start with the salad – I know, I know, the Europeans would argue with me – that is hopefully full of fresh-cut vegetables. Next, move on to the protein, which can promote satiety or that feeling of fullness. Last, the potato. Make sure to also drink water as needed.
By this point, the hope is that you may only pick at the potato. Little bites here and there and perhaps not even finish it. Even better, you’re more likely to choose a very small dessert or skip it entirely.
In this scenario, you’re not only physically filling the stomach to a point that it cannot handle more food, but you’re also triggering the brain to send hormones that curb hunger. You may also have a mental boost when you realize you don’t need that after-dinner sweet. For an added bonus, you could take a brisk walk or dance around the kitchen after dinner for an endorphin blast.
So tonight at dinner, take a moment to assess your plate. Grab a forkful of the veggies first and finish that pile before moving on. Here’s hoping that sluggish feeling of an overstuffed belly never happens!