Eating mindfully is a practice that can serve as an antidote to many potential ailments. It simply means to eat by paying attention to your food and its taste so as to get a better understanding of what food nourishes us and what foods can help us stay healthy. Though it is an art that is much talked about, very few people practice it today.
Often, we eat food in front of the television while watching a movie or while doing work in front of the PC. These are mindless eating habits that we need to overcome.
How to step out of mindless eating patterns?
- Try keeping food out of reach. It is okay if you have snacks for munching in refrigerator and cupboard. But, avoid them in your office desk, car and counter top where you spend most of the day. Having food out makes it more convenient and prompts you to eat more. Make a list of foods that trigger you the most like ice cream, chocolates, pastries etc. and remove them from your refrigerator and cupboards. Out of sight can slowly lead to out of mind.
- Downsize your plate. If you have the habit of eating in a large plate, there is a natural tendency to have more calories. Choose a small plate while you eat and keep your larger plates for fruits and vegetables.
- Don’t eat your emotions. I have heard people saying I eat when I am bored, or I eat when I am stressed. No, eating is not a hobby or leisure time activity. When you are bored, draw a picture or go out walking.
- Avoid eating out in restaurants instead try preparing meals at home. If you have noticed that while you eat out, you feel extremely full, it is because larger portion sizes have become the norm in restaurants. Even if you are going to a restaurant, share your main course with a friend or order an appetizer as your main meal. You can even eat a healthy snack or whole fruit before you go out to eat.
- Remember that we are always geared towards our convenience and the simple act of over effort can reduce over eating. Eastern Illinois University researchers conducted an experiment which showed ‘In-shell pistachio nuts reduce caloric intake compared to shelled nuts.’ Make low calorie food your convenient option. When you go for grocery shopping replace a box of crackers with some fresh organic apples. Let your counter top have a bowl of apples rather than a box of crackers.
Cultivate a healthy relationship with food and choose healthy foods mindfully
- Take time to appreciate what is on the plate. While enjoying the taste, enjoy the vision and smell of food as well. Indulge yourself completely in the food. If you follow this, chances to overeat are less. You will feel completely satisfied after a meal.
- Eat only when hungry. As I have already explained make sure you eat when you are hungry and not when you crave food. If you know it is a craving or boredom that causes hunger, try calling a friend or read a magazine. Even you can take a calming bath or pamper yourself with a pedicure.
- Stop keeping tempting food in the house.Choose snacks mindfully. Snack and treat are different. For snacking include nuts, pumpkin seeds, whole fruits, hardboiled egg, Greek yoghurt, Cottage cheese etc.
The key to living a healthy lifestyle is balance. If you are too rigid, restrictive or strict about nutritious eating you could be setting yourself up to fail. Sustainability is the key. If you start practicing eating healthy, follow it with all your heart. Reward and forgive when needed.
The wonderful part about mindful eating is that it can benefit anyone and everyone. One of the main reasons that people turn towards pursuing a healthier lifestyle is because they want to feel better inside out. In order to make that special connection with food, it is better to cook for yourself and enjoy healthy foods.
How to cook mindfully?
Once you have decided to cook at home, remember to do that with all your heart. Cooking at home is the best way to get food in its purest, freshest form. Home cooked food can make you healthier, happier and more connected.
- Choose seasonal fresh fruits and vegetables. They will stack your plate with essential nutrients and bold flavors.
- Avoid foods that contain preservatives and artificial sweeteners, coloring, and flavorings. They just fill your body with calories and chemicals
- Try to choose organic foods and, thus, limit the amount of pesticides in the body. Wash the vegetables and fruits with a mixture of baking soda+ lemon juice + warm water
- Include spices in cooking. The typical attraction towards food is generated by olfaction, rather than gustation. The spices contribute much towards the olfactory aspect of food, especially in the Indian context. Besides rendering the food tasty, these aid in digestion due to the properties such as Dipana (carminative), Rochana (appetizers) and Hrdya (beneficial to the heart).These correspond to substances like coriander, garlic, ginger, pepper, curry leaves, onion, chilies, lemon, cumin, cinnamon, asafetida, fenugreek, mustard etc. used in modern cooking.
- Cooking doesn’t need to be a solo affair. Invite your partner, kids, or friends into the kitchen to cut down on the time and energy required to make a meal and to make it fun. Cooking together solidifies your relationship at home.