My relationship with food has changed quite a bit over the last year or two. Growing up, there were always healthy food options available (during the summer, many of our fresh fruits and vegetables actually came right from my grandfather’s garden), but I was not much of a healthy eater. My diet was quite high in fat, salt, and carbs. It was all about rice and meat. But now that I’m getting older, and well-beyond my adolescent years, I’ve started to notice how my diet affects not only my body, but my mind as well; I want to make more positive lifestyle changes. I don’t avoid fried chicken like the plague or anything, but I am just trying to become better about taking care of my body.
I’m not claiming to be a nutritionist, or dietary/culinary expert by any means, but I thought I’d talk a little bit about how I’m trying to be more of a “mindful eater.” I want to become more mindful of what I eat and how I eat it. I think that being more conscious of what we put in our bodies and how our bodies react to it is a very powerful tool for self-love and self-care. I’m not touting this as a quick-fix diet fad, but as a long-term healthy lifestyle change. The goal is not to “get skinny” or necessarily lose weight (because let’s face it, we need to stop equating “good health” with “thin-ness” — healthy people come in all shapes and sizes), but to feel better from the inside out.
These tips are what have helped me along the way:
No more standing up, ironing your shirt and talking on the phone while you scarf down a sandwich. Take the opportunity to really enjoy your meals. Notice flavors, aromas, textures. Take your time. Consider your meal time a time when you are doing something very good for your body; it’s a time of nourishment and healing.
I’m not talking about counting calories. For a few months, I kept a little food diary on my phone to note what foods I ate each day and how I felt after eating them. Did I feel sluggish? Bloated? Energetic? Jittery? Content? Relaxed? Depressed? Sleepy? Did I have stomach pains? Indigestion? Insomnia? Sudden bouts of acne? Notice what foods make you feel your best, and think about incorporating more of such foods into your meals regularly.
Preparing and cooking your own food gives you the most control over what goes into your body. Try to do this as often as you can. You can learn to make healthier choices (and become a better cook while you’re at it!) Take this time to experiment with different ingredients, techniques and new flavors and spices.
Once you are consistently eating healthier and healthier, it may seem like the right thing to do to eventually avoid all “bad” foods forever. But I don’t want that to ever be the case. For me, it is not just about eating healthier food, it’s also about having a healthier relationship with food too — being able to enjoy and appreciate healthier foods but still be able to enjoy not-so-healthy food without being overcome with guilt. I never want to consider junk food an “enemy” and I never want to consider healthy food a “restraint.” If I find myself craving a piece of cheesecake, some bacon strips, a beer, or french fries, I’m going to enjoy some!
What do you do to try to be more mindful of the foods you eat? What foods make you feel your best?