Following on from my last post, here’s what I learnt from the outstanding team at Palace Merano Espace Henri Chenot that anyone can apply to daily eating. This isn’t about dieting or weight loss but about how to look after the engine that is inside us so that we have maximum energy and minimum health problems. As a result there are weight benefits too.
Take your time to eat This sounds obvious, but we’re all rushing around and it can be tempting even for foodies to sometimes grab something and go. What foodies do right is to mostly make a ritual of eating and thoroughly enjoy food. Just but be sure to chew slowly. It’s chewing that prompts the brain to find the enzymes needed for the food to be digested easily.
Breakfast lightly Much is made in the media about ‘breakfasting like a king’ and this certainly suits some people. Not me. So it was a huge relief to be told that eating lightly first thing is fine. Our bodies fast whilst we sleep, enabling our system to regenerate, so when we break the fast by eating lightly we help our body get going again. Coffee very first thing, however, isn’t advised. I enjoy mine even more by delaying the fix by an hour or so!
Go for maximum variety Eating the same healthy food all the time is in fact not healthy. ‘Our chemical system needs all sorts of food,’ says Chinese Medicine practitioner Marie Pierre. ‘To get the most nutrients we need a wide range of foods.’
As you can see from the photos Espace Henri Chenot cuisine has a huge gourmet health foodie appeal, full of sunshine colours and ingredients and lots of variety.
Give up the cappuccino / latte Yes, this one is a big shocker. Even if you are not dairy intolerant, it seems this very common daily treat is a digestive nightmare. Remember the Italians only have cappuccino in the morning so they must know something. ‘The combination of coffee with milk that is heated and frothed up like a mousse sits in the intestines and is hard to digest,’ says Dr. Maximilian Mayrhofer. It takes several hours for the body to process this combination, so a second cappuccino or latte after lunch gives the body an even harder task.
Eat carbohydrates for lunch We need sustenance during the day as this is when we are most active, so this is the ideal time to eat good carbohydrates like wholegrains and pulses. ‘It’s a mistake to give up carbohydrates and just eat protein,’ says Mayrhofer. ‘We need carbohydrates for fuel. Too much protein creates a lot acidity in the body.’
Consider separating carbs from protein and eating protein (meat, fish, eggs) in the evening as according to the Chenot way, this eases the digestive process. ‘Carbohydrates need alkalinity and protein needs acidity to be processed,’ explains Pierre.
Having good carbs for lunch and separating carbs from protein has certainly worked for me. I have energy when I go to the gym for Pilates and yoga, I don’t feel bloated before a dance class; I don’t need to pick and snack; and the best thing I’ve noticed is that I don’t have insane afternoon cravings for something sweet.
Eating a sandwich at lunchtime never suited me, I never felt full enough. Mayrhofer also points out that modern bread contains too much gluten for our digestive system, and even if we’re not gluten intolerant it’s difficult to digest. Choose sourdough bread instead.
If you don’t like separating carbs and proteins or find it hard to do so, then try to combine the two at lunchtime as this gives your body several hours to digest the meal. Then have something light in the evening like a salad. I’m certainly not fanatical about this rule, especially when away from home, but I am mindful of it. If I do mix the two I add small amounts of protein to carbohydrates and vice versa. Think in terms of more pasta and less meat sauce at lunchtime, more meat sauce and a lot less pasta if eating the same dish in the evening.
Go for rare not well done Carpaccio (slivers of raw beef) takes two hours to digest, compared to well done steak which takes five hours. If you eat meat always consider how it’s cooked and what you are eating it with. ‘Fried potatoes and meat take a minimum six hours to digest,’ says Pierre. ‘Add alcohol, sugar, coffee and it’ll take several hours more.’ If you’re going to have an indulgent carnivore’s meal try to make it lunch so that your body isn’t working overtime at night which is the time the entire system needs to rest and renew.
Don’t put your body through a tsunami! One of the great things about the Espace Henri Chenot team is the awareness that their clients live in the real world where they are surrounded by food and alcohol temptations. In the evenings at Palace Merano there are talks on various subjects including how to handle big events where food and drink play a huge part. For women the big danger is eating virtually nothing for days before a major dinner, for men it can be cutting out alcohol for a few days before a heavy weekend of drinking. ‘This is like putting your body through a tsunami,’ says Pierre.
Other ‘tsunami’ instances are eating very late at night, going from one extreme to another (super healthy to super unhealthy), mixing alcohol during an evening (a cocktail to start, different wines for different courses, more cocktails or liqueurs), and loading the body with every toxin on the food and drinks menu (rich sauces with cream, cheese and eggs, lots of meat, fried food, sugary-creamy desserts, alcohol).
It’s possible to indulge in a foodie evening without wreaking havoc on our digestive system, which in turn helps limit the excess kilos/pounds. Just keep the word ‘tsunami’ in your head. Some minor adjustments to what you order can help your body do its job and limit the calorific/fat damage.