I’m sure many of you have heard the saying, “you are what you eat.” I would like to propose you are also, “how you eat.” Do you eat breakfast while commuting to work? Or, do you skip breakfast altogether? Do you eat lunch quickly while you continue to work? What is your posture like when you eat? At dinner time, are you eating in front of the television or scanning your phone for updates and posts?
Nourishing your body should also be nurturing your body. It’s easy to get caught up in a living to eat mentality. Being a “mindful foodie” means considering what, how much and how you are placing food into your body and switching gears to an eat to live lifestyle.
Additionally, if you are someone who has food sensitivities or digestive health conditions, mealtime can be stressful. From thinking what to make, being too exhausted to cook or just not knowing what to eat. I have personally faced all these challenges. In this section, I will share the approaches that help me and hope you will take away an idea that may help you be nourished.
Before addressing food particulars, let’s look at the how. When you eat a meal or snack, environment and positioning are important. Try not to multitask while eating. Instead, concentrate on chewing your food well to improve digestion. Sit in an upright position and remain seated for a few moments afterward if possible. By taking the time to chew your food and think about what you are eating, letting go of the racing thoughts, to-do lists and what you need to do next, your mind will slow down and your nervous system will be more likely to enter the “rest and digest” phase. If you have difficulty letting electronic devices or thoughts go, count how many times you chew each piece of food to distract yourself from negative thoughts. Slowing your body and chewing pace will slow your mind in return.
In addition to quieting your mind, you will be more apt to feel when you are satiated. This is important both for gaining and losing weight. For those of us, who have been ill and need to gain, getting the body either mentally or physically use to the sensation of a full stomach can be challenging. Personally, my stomach lining was so harmed by medication, it was painful to eat at first. I found thorough chewing aided my digestion, along with taking my time. If you need to rest halfway through a meal, take the time, then resume after a few moments. Playing relaxing music at mealtimes may also help relax you if you are prone to anxious thoughts at mealtime.
The act of food preparation can also help you to ground in the present. So often I found myself throwing something together quickly and not really considering what I was putting into my body. Instead of spending mindless hours scanning the internet for recipes, connect with family and friends. Ask what their favorite recipes are. If you have children of any age, creating a family cookbook can fill rainy days with great memories and become a cherished heirloom to pass down. I once found a recipe for squirrel stew in an old family recipe box that sparked belly laughs, as well as, sweet reminiscing that would have otherwise been lost.
Mindful eating can be most challenging when we are not feeling well, it is easy to become reliant on processed foods. I am not immune to this easy path. However, I found stocking my cupboards with a “care package,” very helpful. Items such as bone broth, packaged salmon or chicken that is minimally processed, nut butter and dehydrated fruits, herbal tea, and crackers and a few bags of organic frozen veggies get me through the rough days. I also keep organic protein shakes that do not require refrigeration on hand. When you are feeling well, try a few out and see what your body responds to best.
More nourishment to come…thanks for your patience.