Guest Blog by Julia Frances Wellness
Often we focus on what we should and shouldn’t eat – but let’s take a minute to consider how we are eating. When we eat intuitively, we can be present to our needs and be more intentional about our food choices.
Mindful eating is, in some ways, is the opposite to dieting. It’s based on the idea that there is no right or wrong way to eat – instead, applying consciousness to the food we are eating and why.
Eating or not eating can be used as a way to cope with our worries and negative feelings – and mindful eating improves our ability to manage our emotions. By directing your attention to the food on your plate – rather than your phone or TV – you can notice your thoughts as just thoughts; rather than acting on them and maybe choosing food as a distraction.
Of course, this is a constant practise and any change begins with awareness of our current habits, before taking baby steps to create better ones. I have personally been working on this lately and I’ve put together some tips and tricks that have helped me – I hope you find them helpful too.
1. Clean plate syndrome and eating past full
Ever since a young age, I have had this habit of needing to finish everything on my plate, even when I already feel full. As though I’d be missing out on the delicious food that’s left... and besides, wouldn’t it be a terrible waste? In truth, either way the food is wasted if your body doesn’t need it. I’ve found it helpful to simply serve myself a smaller portion for snacks and meals at home. As for eating out, when the portion sizes are beyond our control, be aware that when you’re about 80% full, it’s about enough.
2. Are you actually hungry?
When we are overwhelmed by stress or emotion (or simply bored), it is all too tempting to reach for a snack as a distraction. Personally I’ve found that the fluttering anxious feeling can feel like hunger. When you get the urge to eat, ask yourself “am I hungry?”, or “what just happened?” In many cases, taking a walk outside, having a chat with a friend, or drinking a glass of water will serve us better. Mindful eating is eating when our bodies tell us to eat and we physically feel hungry.
3. Make eating a ritual
Eating becomes far more enjoyable when we make meal time a ritual. For example, sitting with others at set times, rather than eating alone at random times throughout the day; whilst standing at the fridge or as you get from A to B. Your body then knows it’s meal time and is ready to digest your food. Make use of your dining table and share each meal time with others – or when eating alone, turn the TV off, play some music and even light a candle.
4. Comfort food
Be aware that emotionally-driven food choices will have you grabbing food for comfort rather than nourishment. Convenient, processed foods are high in sugar and comprised of simple carbohydrates that will have your energy levels slumping mind arvo... sound familiar? Take a minute to check in with yourself and choose foods that will nourish and sustain you.
5. When eating, slow down and just eat
When eating a meal, snacking or even drinking coffee, try to mindfully slow down and just eat/drink. It’s key to chew your food and notice the flavour, smell and texture of your food. This way we’re better able to digest our food and enjoy it! Try to avoid eating and multitasking with your phone, checking emails or even driving, and just be present with your food.
6. Food appreciation
Rather than seeing the meal as a means to an end, take a moment to consider where the food comes from and who prepared it for you. Did you get some fresh veggies from the farmers market? Has it been beautifully presented on the plate? Food always taste better when we eat with all the senses and being conscious about our food choices helps to improve our relationship with food.
Practising mindfulness is simple in nature, but not always easy. It takes practical action, so if this is something that you think would help you, I suggest starting today, by taking one or two of these tips and applying it to your daily meal time. I believe that taking one step at a time, is the only way towards making sustainable change and becoming the happiest and healthiest versions of ourselves.
Julia is a lover of good food, nature adventures and home cooking! She’s a holistic Nutrition and Wellness coach, Mindfulness Facilitator and Yoga teacher, helping women who struggle with stress, low energy and overthinking to create daily habits to feel their best, healthiest selves. In other words, they have plenty of energy, feel chirpier, and love themselves (and their life) a whole lot more – you can read more about her programs at juliafrances.co.nz
For anyone based in Auckland, she hosts regular cooking workshops, teaching everyone how she cooks her delicious and easy – yet nourishing – food and inspires others to take food less seriously and freestyle with what they’ve got.