It's Not Just What You Eat But How You Eat
When it comes to having a healthy relationship with food the way in which you eat can be just as important as what you are putting in your body. While eating well-balanced, nutritious foods is the best approach, if we don’t give our bodies the opportunity to eat in a way that supports digestion, we aren’t able to reap the benefits of those foods.
Here are a few simple rituals that can help create a more mindful way of eating:
1. Make time for breakfast. We’ve all heard it a thousand times…but it’s worth saying again that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. It gets your metabolism going, and it wakes up your digestive system to let it know the day has begun and its time to start moving. It gives you the fuel your body and brain need to start your day. Instead of hitting snooze and only having time to grab something on the go, try to set aside 20-30 minutes in your morning to slowly enjoy your breakfast. Lighting a candle at your breakfast table can be a calming way to start your day. And if you want to take this one step further, restrict yourself from checking social media or looking over stressful emails (if work permits it) and read something inspiring that will put your mind in a positive state.
2. Set an intention. Subconsciously, we all have intentions when we eat—usually we eat because we’re hungry. But sometimes, there can also be emotions attached and we eat to fill an emotional void or to control or measure. To avoid unhealthy patterns, try to set a positive intention before each meal to nourish, energize, and thrive. This will reinforce the idea that you deserve to take care of your body, and that includes slowing down to eat foods that make you feel good. I like to do this when cooking the meal, and put love, care, and focus into the process.
3. Enjoy your food. Try not to multitask when you eat. Put down your phone, turn off the TV, and step away from your work. In Italy, most people take at least an hour-long lunch, which lets them enjoy the tastes of their meal in a leisurely fashion. This has actual health benefits because when you take the time to chew your food, your saliva creates more enzymes that help your body digest. When you really enjoy your food, it also causes your brain to release feel-good endorphins.
4. Try to share meal time with others. When you share the same meal with a friend, your energy levels increase, decrease and plateau around the same time, which is one of the many reasons why sharing a meal brings people closer together. Sharing gratitude for the food on your plate, and the company you keep can help bring awareness to how truly lucky you are.
5. Listen to your body. Following a very restrictive diet and depriving yourself of foods usually will only make you want them more (and probably end up eating more of said foods), and it’s not a realistic, maintainable lifestyle. Instead, take the time to learn what foods agree with you, and give you energy, as opposed to the ones that make you feel lethargic or bloated. Practice moderation and balance. If your body is craving sugar or salt, look for foods nutritious foods that naturally contain those flavor profiles. If you are trying to debate over whether you should or should not indulge, ask yourself...whats more unhealthy? Treating myself or depriving myself? Unless you're trying to break a pattern of eating too much of that thing you want, then its most likely more healthy to treat yourself!
It’s no secret that these practices take time and effort, and they don’t fit naturally into most people’s busy schedules with demanding jobs. So the best place to start is by bringing awareness to the rituals or habits you currently have, and thinking about where you could make some changes. If you can’t make time for every meal, start by choosing one meal a day that you will give yourself the time to truly enjoy. If you have to have a working lunch take 2 minutes to do focus on breath and clear your mind before you eat and work at the same time.