Back to Basics

by karen on February 1, 2019

No matter what I’m working on with a client, or talking to an acquaintance about, or addressing for myself, when it comes to diet and nutrition it is always best to keep it simple. I know everyone tends to search the web constantly for the latest and greatest breakthroughs in what will most easily make us healthy and fit. Instead, I recommend that you spend that valuable time doing these four simple but effective tips.

Stay Hydrated

Our bodies are over 60% water, so it’s crucial to maintain that level of fluid in our bodies to stay healthy. Water does all of the following:

  • Maintains and regulates body temperature—dehydration can lower metabolism for fewer calories burned
  • Keeps your cells, tissues, joints, and spinal cord wet so they can properly perform their duties
  • Helps transport waste products through the kidneys and out of the body
  • Helps digest food properly, absorbing maximum nutrients
  • Is important for blood health
  • Assists with our cognitive abilities

Dehydration triggers our brain to send signals that we’re hungry when we’re actually thirsty, so stay ahead of the game by drinking throughout the day. Fluids are best absorbed consumed slowly. Think of absorption like a sponge; pouring a cup of water over a dry sponge all at once will do little to moisten the sponge, but slowly trickling the water over will saturate it, allowing it to sink in and be absorbed. That’s how you want to take in your fluids; slowly, so they’ll be absorbed into all the tissues of your body. Additionally, if you’re feeling hungry between meal times, try drinking a tall glass of water and then waiting for 10 minutes; if you’re still hungry after, go ahead and eat a healthy snack.

To calculate your fluid needs, take your weight in pounds and multiply by 16 for the number of ounces of fluid you need per day to keep you hydrated. All fluids count with the exception of alcohol, even moderate amounts of caffeinated beverages.

Eat When You’re Hungry

It’s important to be in tune with our bodies, and when we listen, we get useful information. In today’s society, we tend to eat at set times based on our daily schedules. But if you’re not hungry and it’s noon, the time you usually take your lunch break, see how you feel at 1:00 or 2:00. Turning off the automation component of eating can allow us to eat more intuitively.

Stop Eating When You’re Satisfied

Most everyone eats until we’re full, and that is actually a state where we’re overfull, even stuffed. Done day after day, stuffed becomes our warped sense of full, and we chronically overeat. Halfway through a meal, stop and take inventory. If you are no longer hungry, try stopping eating. If you’ve made a mistake and get hungry in an hour, go back and eat again. Reducing intake by ¼ is an amount most of us will be satisfied at vs full/overfull/stuffed. Avoiding the last ¼ portion on a regular basis is very effective at shedding excess weight without being deprived or starved.

Pay Attention at Mealtimes

If it’s been a while since you’ve actually gotten rid of the distractions at mealtime and paid attention to your food, give it a try. You’ll enjoy your food more, feel satisfied at the right time, and digest your food much more comfortably. Focus on the taste and smell of your food while you’re eating and you’ll help your brain and stomach be on the same page; when this happens, it’s much easier to eat the right amount of food and be satisfied.

Commit to doing these four simple steps at each meal for the next week. You’ll feel more energized, have better focus, sleep better, and be happier. And who knows, you may even see a nudge on the scale.

Karen Fisher, MS, RD, LDN, CDE is a dietitian in Reno, Nevada, happily promoting the benefits of healthy foods at her nutrition consulting firm, Nutrition Connection. Find her website at

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