You may have heard the term ‘mindfulness’ and how it can relate to many aspects of life, including nutrition and food choices. Mindfulness relates to an awareness of what you are doing at any particular moment in time. Today’s fast-paced lifestyles often mean rushing from one activity to another without much time to think twice. Mindfulness is all about slowing down and focusing at the task at hand, which can bring many benefits to eating habits, nourishment and enjoyment of food.
Becoming more mindful is a process that can take some time and effort. When it comes to nutrition it means considering your individual nutrition needs, from a health and physical perspective, but also a psychological and emotional needs aspect. A mindful approach to eating allows you to listen to your body. No fad diets or strict eating plans, but a flexible approach to food. Some days you might really want a sweet snack. It’s ok to allow yourself a food that you really love and want to eat. Eating mindfully allows you to eat the food slowly and savour every mouthful so you really enjoy the experience and are then often more likely to be satisfied.
Below are some examples of questions that you can ask yourself to start incorporating mindfulness into your eating patterns:
- How hungry am I really? Do I really need to eat everything on the plate or would I feel just as full if I eat slowly and eat less?
- What foods will I need to take with me to work tomorrow to help me feel energized and focused?
- I think I feel like chocolate but do I REALLY need it and would I be just as happy with a small portion rather than the whole lot?
- What are the best foods that are going to help give me energy?
- Eating out for lunch, do I really need to finish all of those chips on the plate? How full do I feel? They have gone cold, am I really going to enjoy them?
- I like to have an alcoholic drink, but should I be designated driver tonight?
This is just a start and your questions may be different to these, just as your answers will differ to these questions at different times, but that’s ok. At least you are starting to think about what you eat, how you eat and why.
Before making any nutrition changes, it’s worthwhile having a think about your personal approach to health and nutrition. A healthy relationship with food involves eating a variety of different foods, not depriving yourself completely of the things you want, but also being mindful of the types of foods that are best for you at different times.
Navigating nutrition and food choices can be complex, and the psychological side of things can often be challenging and require a specific focus. A lot of my clients work with a psychologist in conjunction with an accredited practicing dietitian to set them up with the best tools to succeed.