The way you eat is more important than what you eat, according to the experts at what is reputed to be the world’s best medical spa in Austria.
Most diet advice focuses on the foods you should or shouldn’t be eating for optimal health.
While the content of your meals is key, thinking about how and when you eat can support you with a wealth of health concerns, including weight loss, digestion and chronic illnesses.
Vivamayr in Austria is one of the world’s leading medical spas, regularly winning awards and accolades. The doctors and experts there believe that improving your digestion will improve most other systems and processes in your body.
They even say it can help you to become more resilient. Here’s the advice they give to those who follow the “Mayr cure”.
1. The timing of your meals is key
The ideal mealtimes are breakfast at 8am, lunch at 12pm and dinner at 4pm. The last one of these is unrealistic for most working people so instead aim to finish eating four hours before you go to bed. Eating after 9 pm leads to production of ghrelin, sometimes called the hunger hormone. This makes us crave sugar and carbohydrates.
As long as you are not underweight or have been advised to eat more regularly, leave four hours between the end of one meal and the start of the next. This gives your digestive system time to do its job.
2. No snacking - even the healthy ones
So as not to disrupt the four-hour break between meals, do not snack.
Snacking interrupts digestion, feeds bacteria and in the long term can lead to type 2 diabetes.
3. The size of your meals should not be the same
You might have heard the adage "breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dine like a pauper". At Vivamayr, they swear by it.
They say breakfast should be your biggest meal of the day, lunch a bit smaller, and dinner even smaller, ideally just a soup or something else light.
4. Chew, chew, and chew some more
It’s recommended to chew every bite 40-60 times. Counting can get tedious, so instead, aim for the food to become liquid in your mouth and swallow.
Chewing not only makes the food easier to digest, but it also forces you to slow down so that you realise when you’re full and don’t overeat.
5. Eat mindfully
It’s much easier to remember to chew properly and stop when you’re full if you’re not distracted while you eat. This means no screens, no books, no newspapers, and even conversation should be kept to a minimum if you’re really strictly following the "Mayr Way".
During my stay at Vivamayr, I initially found it difficult to only focus on what I was eating. But a few things made it easier.
I started focusing on the colours, textures, and smells of the food. I thought about all the steps and people and work it had taken to get the food to my plate.
There’s actually plenty to occupy your mind when you slow down and look at food in a different way.
6. Stop when you’re full
If you’re eating slowly, without distractions, and chewing properly, it’s much easier to notice when you’re full.
As soon as you feel full, stop eating, even if this means putting a plate with one or two bites left into the fridge for later or the next day.
7. No raw food after 4 pm
Never eat raw fruit, vegetables, salad, dried fruit, or smoothies after 4 pm. Always heat them up - any method is fine. The exception is fermented foods, such as sauerkraut, which do not count as raw.
Raw foods are the hardest for our system to digest and our digestion is slowest in the evening so they sit in the bowels and create gas and other problems.
8. Supplements can help with digestion
If you are regularly constipated, a supplement like magnesium citrate can help to get your bowels moving. Always consult with your doctor before starting a new supplement, even if they are herbal.
The writer was a guest of Vivamayr.