Become aware of what you’re eating and why
This month is National Nutrition Month – a month dedicated to nutrition education, created by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Nutrition is something I think about all the time. I study it. I talk to my kids about it. I’m always interested in learning new ways I can improve my eating habits and create a healthier relationship with food.
Overall, my diet is very healthy. I eat organically, as often as possible, incorporate many fruits and vegetables into my daily diet and stay away from processed foods. But I wasn’t always this way.
Granted, I grew up in a traditional Italian household, where food was ingrained in the culture. I enjoyed a multi-course feast every Sunday at dinner, and meals were social gatherings. My house was always full of family, friends and neighbors sitting around the table, eating, talking and laughing for hours. I had no concept of what it meant to eat mindfully and never fully appreciated what food can do – not just for the body, but also for the soul.
Unfortunately, many of us have an unhealthy relationship with food. We are constantly dieting, counting calories and worrying about that extra ten pounds. Many of us don’t realize the simple solution to changing our relationship with food: mindful eating.
The Simple Solution To Improving Your Relationship With Food
Today we live in a culture that has sped up to a frenzied pace, and we often fit food in while we’re doing something else. We eat chips from a bag while sitting in front of a television. We inhale a sandwich while checking our email, or a burger while driving. To eat mindfully, we need to slow down and pay attention to every bite we put into our bodies. We need to truly taste what we’re eating and notice its subtle flavors and textures and sounds. No multitasking; a meal is to be savored.
The Real Food Cookbook, by Dr Josh Axe, offers simple solutions, including simple recipes for busy people to help start us on this road to better health through mindful eating. We can learn even more specifics about what we are eating, and how to avoid harmful ingredients in our food in What the Fork Are You Eating? by certified chef and nutritionist Stefanie Sacks.
You eat probably 14 to 21 meals a week. Start small, and try to implement some of these practices some of the time. Why? For one thing, I guarantee you’ll have a greater enjoyment of what you’re eating. For another, you’ll probably eat less. When we scarf down food, we don’t get the signal that we’re full until we’re already past that point. You’ll also have improved digestion and a calm, meditative moment instead of an activity you rush through, so you can move on to the next pressing thing in your day.
I’d like to learn to be present for every bite. I want to be able to pause at each meal, whether it’s a salad grabbed at my desk or date night at a fancy restaurant, and appreciate how food strengthens my body and nourishes my spirit. There are people who give thanks before every meal for the food they’re about to eat. I rarely think about how grateful I am for the food I eat. When you have plenty of something, you’re not likely to think about being thankful for it.
I hope you’ll join me and become more mindful of the food you eat. Let’s take the first step together and start by paying attention to every bite.