What the heck is Mindful Eating?
Mindful Eating has become an area of curiosity for me and a practice that I work to improve on in my mission to provide exceptional self-care. Don’t get me wrong – there are days when my choices are far from mindful and go towards serving another purpose, be it entertainment, indulgence or socializing. As a Holistic Nutritionist and Chef, food is the centre of my universe and the area that I have seen people struggle most is around their own relationship with food. I have a love for all things nourishing and in the name of self-care but I also understand the challenges that stand in the way of us making our best decisions easily and consistently.
What is Mindful Eating? The basis of mindful eating looks like this – being present with your food, putting away distractions at meal time, using your senses and being conscientious of the foods that you put on your plate. It means keeping your mind full of the task at hand. The goal is developing a beautiful relationship with food internally, to foster a more vibrant you externally. Mindful Eating is helpful for becoming aware of which foods make you feel good, bad, bloated and everything in between. Mindful Eating is ultimately a tool of self-care to nourish a relationship with your body and mind that is grounded in self-love.
Ultimately, a true practice of Mindful Eating involves self-awareness around the act of eating and the acts that lead up that that experience as well. For me, practicing presence with food is not enough. Being conscientious of where your food comes from impact of your food choices on the planet is an integral part of Mindful Eating. Becoming present with food involves awareness from the process of purchasing, preparing, plating, to finally putting it into your body.
Another facet of Mindful Eating for me is the way that I cook. As someone who has been called an intuitive chef, I rarely follow a recipe, measure ingredients or write things down. I taste as I go, mix things based on what feels right and enjoy the product whether it is perfect or not. Letting your gut feelings and five senses guide your culinary adventures allows you to connect to the food in a way not possible when we are distracted, not in a restful state, or ‘just right here right now’.
Quick tips for cultivating a Mindful diet:
- Try to buy only food grown within 100km of you for 1 week. This is a great way to gain a greater awareness of what your local food movement has to offer. This can be a challenge depending where you live and what season it is, but it a great reset for your purchasing habits and a way to become more aware of who and what you are supporting with your dollar.
- Choose one meal per day and devote a full minute to deep breathing before you dig in. Try inhaling for 3 seconds, holding at the top of your breathe for 5 and exhaling for 5 seconds. The purpose of this exercise is engaging your parasympathetic nervous system. This is responsible for the “rest and digest” functions of your body. This is where you want to be for optimal digestion of your food! I have seen people’s digestive concerns disappear when they prioritized time away from their desk at work to eat their lunch in a relaxed environment.
- The last tip is something I regularly recommend for my clients – write a food journal. Before you roll your eyes at how incredibly exciting this sounds, listen in. The kind of journaling I am talking about is not about how many cups of quinoa or how many calories. I find journaling that tunes you in to the way that different foods make you feel is where the magic happens, and comparing that feeling against how you ideally want your food to make you feel. For example, you may want to feel energized, light and satiated over guilty, heavy or overindulgent.
About the Author
Hello there! I'm Haley. I am a holistic nutritionist + wellness educator.
Manifeast Nutrition is a nutrition + wellness coaching business providing personalized, goal-oriented wellness plans, curating community-building workshops and events related to health and wellness. The mission is to guide others to a state of flourishing health and wellness of the mind and body through optimal nutrition. The blog is space for the exploration of plant-based recipes, healthy lifestyle topics, and tips for living a vibrant life. I help others to feed the life of their dreams.