Being an intelligent vegetarian means so much more than eliminating animal products from your diet. Last week we discussed harmful ingredients that can sneak into a vegetarian diet. Here are a few more tips on being an intelligent vegetarian.
1. Set a regular eating schedule
2. Be aware of true vs. false hunger cues
3. Be aware of your body’s first cues of fullness and react appropriately
4. Eat rationally based on your nutritional needs and recommended caloric intake
5. Eat mindfully rather than impulsively when surrounded by pleasurable eating.
Setting a regular eating pattern helps your hypothalamus function normally. This part of your brain regulates multiple metabolic functions in the body and, in essence, acts as your body’s thermometer. Your body likes routine, and it likes predictability. Your digestion, energy, mood and sleep will all improve when your brain and body work in harmony.
There are many who interpret hunger pains as a cue to grab a snack or eat another meal. Most often, if you have eaten within 3–4 hours, your hunger pains mean indigestion, reflux or dehydration. Review your last meal for possible causes of heartburn or indigestion. Eating too fast, combining fruits with vegetables, or eating a highly spicy, fatty, or salty meal followed by a sweet treat can sometimes be the culprit. Additionally, eating a carbohydrate-rich, or high glycemic index meal, can cause a rapid insulin release. This rapidly drops glucose in your blood, which can give the sensation that you are hungry within a few hours of your last meal. Eating smart means balancing your meals with a healthy source of protein, such as beans, legumes, and nuts and avoiding an overload on your liver, gallbladder, pancreas or stomach. Incorporating fiber with your meals also helps regulate and balance your glucose and hunger.
Eating on the go can often lead to overindulgence and overeating. Being mindful about your portion size is not a myth. Overeating causes many harmful reactions that can turn a healthy meal into inflammation and injury. Eating slowly and chewing well allows your brain to focus on satiety cues. It is best to stop eating as soon as you feel that cue, and you will surely feel better about doing so.
Utilizing self-control in a social setting means intelligently following your meal schedule, listening to hunger cues, and eating based on your nutritional needs—not by social pressure to indulge. Psychologists Noah A. Shamosh and Jeremy R. Gray, from Yale University note that self-control is related to a higher IQ and more active prefrontal cortex. Self-control is also closely linked to higher emotional intelligence and successful spiritual life.
"Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God."
May our eating habits reflect God’s divine intelligence illuminating in and through us!