#1 Eat slowly and until satisfied, not stuffed.
It takes between 15 and 20 minutes for your digestive system to signal your brain that you’ve eaten enough. This means you’re actually full before feeling it. So slowing down a meal allows you to realise that you are indeed full before you overeat. (Fact: scientists have recently discovered brain neurons in the human gut.)
When you slow down, savour and appreciate your food, you feel sated and content. So you eat less but enjoy it more! Plus, your parasympathetic nervous system directs blood and energy towards digestion rather than responds to stress.
#2 Eat well on the go.
It’s challenging to find real food while travelling. Eating before setting off isn’t great if you’re in a rush because it compromises digestion. The trick is to eat less, but better: a snack of almonds (unroasted, unsalted), mixed nuts, seeds and/or dried fruit is very nutritious and way better than a “protein” or “chocolate” bar with refined sugar and conditioners. Once you’re in your seat, eat.
If you somehow find yourself at the lay-by or airport with no healthy snacks, then opt for the least-worst option, e.g. muesli bar instead of a doughnut. (Hey, it’s just for a while.)
#3 Moderate yourself.
This flows from golden rule #1, above. Eat calmly, seated. You’ll be more conscious of what and how much you’re eating, and how the food is making you feel. If you need a gauge of how much to eat, the portion should be about the size of you clenched fist. Should you count calories? Maybe. But be aware that 500 calories of pasta carbonara compared with 500 calories of avocado salad will sit very differently in your stomach.
#4 Make time for exercise.
No matter how fatigued or sleepy you feel, you’ll be glad you did. Always. In fact, unless you’re unwell, the more fatigued you are, the more likely you need to work out. Exercise refreshes your body with oxygen. It also stretches and un-knots the muscles after a marathon mahjong session with cookies and yam seng with too many well-meaning relatives.
#5 Good night, sleep tight.
Mind that circadian rhythm. Our body clocks are attuned to sunlight, so if you pull an all-night rave with the long-lost cousins until the crack of dawn, there will be consequences. This is less about sleeping the so-called recommended number of hours, but sleeping when you should – before sunrise! Keep your energies well, stay restful while awake, and you’ll bounce out of bed the next morning. Like new!