General dietary rules are a very thorny subject.
Don't be fooled by the simplicity of the concepts set out below; the very purpose of these recommendations greatly complicates their assessment. In fact, there are many who dispute the veracity of the general dietary rules - sometimes, we must say, even with good reason.
We will therefore try to propose them again without being too "bigots" and leaving room for elasticity and reflections; let's not forget that we are people, not automatons, and that there is no individual equal to the other. However, it is undeniable that all human beings, apart from small differences, function with the same "biological logic". If on the one hand we cannot consider them universal truths, on the other hand the general dietary rules are to be understood as indications potentially useful for maintaining order and dietary-food hygiene.
Let's see them one by one.
Which ones are they?
These general rules are to be considered as a general proposal. In the event of a pathological state, consult a dietician or your doctor.
- Having breakfast: we do not mean having to sit at the table "by force" immediately after rising in the morning, not even having to eat by force. However, it must be remembered that skipping breakfast triggers a greater feeling of hunger which will have repercussions at lunch or worse at dinner. The amount of food is around 15% of the total daily calories. Understanding what to eat, how much and at what time constitutes the "true" dietary norm in question;
- Have a snack in the middle of the morning: mid-morning means halfway between breakfast and lunch; obviously, if the time span exceeds 4-5 hours, snacks could become 2. It is the right occasion to take fruit, for example, without exceeding the glycemic load of lunch or dinner. The amount of food is around 5-10% of the total daily calories, and depends on the size of the main meals and the number of secondary snacks;
- Eating lunch without reaching a sense of gastric fullness, but feeling full. It may seem obvious but it is not. As this is often a frugal meal, there is no time for the digestive system, metabolism and brain to understand when to stop. Thus occurs the so-called inertia or rush effect: "Wow, I ate too much!". How often do you hear it said at the table? The primary cause is excessive haste combined with poor chewing. The amount of food is around 35-40% of the total daily calories;
- Have a snack in the middle of the afternoon: the same applies to the mid-morning snack. By mid-afternoon we mean halfway between lunch and dinner; obviously, if the time span exceeds 4-5 hours, the snacks could become 2. The amount of food is around 5-10% of the total daily calories, and depends on the size of the main meals and the number of secondary snacks. It can be a good opportunity to eat foods that are not eaten for breakfast, lunch and dinner, other than fruit - yogurt, rice cakes, etc;
- "Light" dining: it means everything and nothing. The amount of food is around 30-35% of the total daily calories, but this is not enough. Especially if dinner takes place late in the evening, it is necessary to reduce the portions of poorly digestible foods, such as those that are very fatty and very protein, or protein and overcooked. A good rule of thumb is that it is a smaller meal than lunch;
- Chew food calmly: for the reason we mentioned in lunch, but also to ensure the lightness of dinner. Chewing is an often overlooked but very important detail;
- Drink water but in moderation with meals: too little or too much water affects digestion. Too much dilutes the digestive juices, too little does not allow a correct mixing of the same on the contents of the digestive tract. One or two glasses, depending on the type of food consumed, are sufficient. Those suffering from gastric and esophageal discomfort are recommended to eliminate the carbonated one;
- Prefer unprocessed foods to packaged ones: in general, it is advisable to structure the diet with fresh or frozen products, avoiding as much as possible canned, salty, dehydrated, etc. This is because they contain more water, vitamins, minerals, active essential fats, fiber and other antioxidants (if of plant origin) etc. They are more nutritious and also satiating;
- Drink even between meals: the recommended daily amount of water is about 1 ml per kcal taken with the diet. Let us not forget that, if the diet provides "unprocessed" foods in adequate quantities, in itself it is almost sufficient to satisfy the needs. For a sedentary individual, an additional 300-600 ml / day may suffice. For a sportsman, on the other hand, and in the summer season, the amount of water between meals depends on the level of sweating;
- Prefer essential cooking, basically rapid, limiting the very long ones to legumes and cuts of meat / fish rich in collagen;
- Prefer foods with a low content of saturated lipids and control the intake of excessively fatty products (including vegetables because they are very caloric);
- Estimate oil consumption: having a caloric density of 90 kcal per 10 g, it significantly affects the daily energy balance;
- Avoid or eliminate incorrect nutritional behaviors, of which we will make a brief summary.
What to avoid
- Avoid junk foods: fast-food, most street food, sweet snacks, salty snacks, sugary drinks etc;
- Avoid desserts, even homemade, if not properly contextualized (such as a slice of apple pie in the morning for breakfast)
- Avoid alcohol: if there is a habit of having a glass of red wine with a meal, remember not to go further;
- Avoid frying and any preparation or very fatty product, especially if the lipids are of hydrogenated animal or vegetable origin;
- Limit, as mentioned above, foods preserved by salting or dehydration or canned: cured meats (sausages and salted), fish in pots or cans, etc;
- Avoid excessive fatty dressings;
- Avoid too large portions: this is not limited to the oil for seasoning, but also to foods potentially subject to abuse such as bread, pasta, pizza, etc;
- Avoid alcohol other than a single glass of red wine per meal;
- Limit nerve-effect drinks and foods: coffee, fermented tea, bitter cocoa, energy drinks, etc.