Mindful Eating: What Exactly Is It??
You may have heard the term mindful eating before, but what does it actually mean? Essentially, its the practice of being “in the moment” and aware while you’re eating. This means being aware of the taste, texture, and smell of your food, as well as how it makes you feel physically and emotionally. It also means being aware of your hunger cues and only eating when you’re actually hungry—not because you’re stressed, bored, or emotional.
Why Engage in Mindful Eating?
In addition to helping you become more in tune with your body’s natural hunger cues, mindful eating can also help to improve your relationship with food. For many of us, food is something that we use to cope with our emotions. We may turn to comfort foods when we’re feeling stressed or sad, or indulge in unhealthy foods when we’re celebrating something good. However, this emotional eating can lead to feelings of guilt and shame later on. Mindful eating can help to break this cycle by teaching us to be more aware while we’re eating. When we’re able to be mindful of our emotions and why we’re really eating, we can make better choices about what we put into our bodies.
Finally, mindful eating has been shown to have a positive impact on our physical health as well. One study found that people who practice mindful eating tend to have lower BMIs than those who don’t. They also tend to eat fewer calories overall and make healthier food choices. So if you’re looking to improve your physical health, mindful eating is a great place to start!
Where Should You Start with Mindful Eating
When it comes to eating a healthy diet, there are a few things you should always include: protein, complex carbohydrates, healthy fats, and fiber. Eating healthy is essential to overall health. To obtain all the necessary nutrients in our daily lives, protein, complex carbohydrates, and healthy fats are especially important. Protein keeps your muscles and bones strong and helps them heal after injury. Meanwhile, complex carbohydrates supply your body with energy while healthy fats provide essential fatty acids. Last but not least, any diet should include fiber to help maintain regular digestion, cholesterol levels, and risk reduction of diseases such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
Protein is important for building and maintaining muscle mass, and it’s especially important if you’re going for weight loss and helps with maintaining a healthy weight. Good sources of protein include lean meats, poultry, fish, eggs, legumes, and nuts. For animal-based protein, lean meats, poultry, and fish should be on the top of your grocery list. Not only are they powerhouse sources of protein, but they are versatile cooking ingredients. Eggs are an easy way to get in a dose of high-quality protein and are easy to prepare. Legumes like beans offer high-quality proteins which makes them especially convenient for vegetarians, vegans, and non-vegetarians/vegans looking for a great source of plant-based protein. You can easily add them to salads or use them as an alternative to meat in tacos and burritos. For snacking, nuts make for a substantive pick-me-up and are packed with protein!
Complex carbohydrates are important for providing energy and preventing crashes throughout the day. Good sources of complex carbs include whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. Fueling your body with healthy complex carbohydrates is a great way to stay energized for your day and is beneficial long term. Whole grains, such as brown rice and oats, provide high-quality fuel for your body. Fruits like bananas, apples, and grapes have the perfect mix of carbs and fibers to keep you satiated without any guilt. And lastly, veggies like spinach, broccoli, and sweet potatoes are incredibly nutrient-dense sources of complex carbs. These nutritious favorites are sure to give you sustained energy throughout the day!
Healthy fats are important for keeping your skin healthy, maintaining a healthy weight, and protecting your heart health. Good sources of healthy fats include nuts, seeds, avocados, olive oil, and coconut oil. Nuts, from cashews to almonds and more, are an excellent source of essential healthy fats. Packed with plant-derived proteins, minerals, and vitamins, seeds like flax, sunflower, and squash provide plenty of nutrients that represent a good vegan source of these particular fats. Avocado is an excellent addition to salads or as a dip on its own thanks to its generous amounts of healthy fats. Olive oil adds a unique taste to any dish and is beneficial for overall health. Last, but certainly not least, used in moderation, virgin coconut oil makes for another healthy fat; cold-pressed and minimally processed it can help the body in multiple ways.
Finally, fiber is important for bowel regularity and overall health. Good sources of fiber include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes. It’s important to focus on fiber in your diet not just for that elusive, regular bowel movement routine but for overall health! Fruits like apples, pears, and bananas provide huge benefits due to their natural fiber content. The same can be said for a variety of other foods like vegetables, fish, and legumes. Whole grains are a great source too rather than processed grains. For vegetarian options, legumes such as beans. peas and lentils packet lots of fiber and protein, both of which are beneficial for our digestive and overall health.
If you’re looking for a way to improve your relationship with food and your physical health, read my book, Just What The Doctor Ordered: The Five Pillars of Optimal Health and the section on mindful eating! Mindful eating is the practice of being in the moment and fully aware while you eat, which can help you become more in tune with your body’s nutritional needs and make healthier choices overall.