Learn to eat Mindfully and know what foods work best for your body
What does it mean to learn to eat mindfully anyway? Being mindful of anything no matter what we do just requires awareness. In this post, I will get into how to become a mindful eater as it will help you overall in your efforts towards better health.
We all have different relationships with food. Some foods comfort us or bring up nostalgic memories of connecting with family, and take us back to being a kid. For me, my mom’s apple pie is something that takes me back to being in her kitchen watching her bake. Now I know that it’s one of those foods I enjoy with my family but it also includes that environment as part of the experience.
If I were to just have apple pie by myself, it wouldn’t mean as much because it would be eaten out of context. This can be said with many emotional connections with food and it isn’t a bad thing at all. The fact that you can notice this connection and are aware of it’s meaning is a practice of mindfulness in itself.
Another common relationship with food might not be as heartwarming. Due to the many fads in nutrition today, some foods we have turned into the devil by fear that they will make us fat. Back in the 1980’s food companies would market their products being fat-free or low fat due to the studies out at the time which supported that the fat in food was causing us to become overweight.
Therefore, if we took the fat out, we would avoid this outcome. Then a decade later, it was carbohydrates that were making us fat. Nutritional research is changing and being updated constantly, so how can we keep up? Next who knows what macronutrient or micronutrient will be to blame. Just because food companies say it’s healthy for you, is it really?
Newsflash, you have different nutritional needs than your favorite Instagram influencer
This whole subject of what to eat can bring up anxiety around food and create strict eating habits as well as mindless eating or binge eating. We might develop poor relationships to foods or freak out if we don’t eat every two hours like our favorite Instagram influencer. Social media and influencers can inform us of what works for them, but it has nothing to do with your body and its needs.
If we follow others and not our own body’s response, how will we achieve top performance for our own individual needs? How will we know what foods work for our digestion and what foods are not as tolerable? In order to learn to eat mindfully, it takes a moment to recognize and shut out the loud marketing from social media, outside influence and focus on yourself.
Nowadays, whether you prefer to follow a diet such as Keto, Paleo, Carnivore, Vegan or Vegetarian is completely up to you, but is it really FOR YOU is the question. There are studies all over supporting each of these diets as the fountain of youth and promising better energy etc. But if we are all very different genetically, why are some of us jumping from one diet to the next without any real understanding about what we are eating and how it is affecting our body?
Here is the issue, we are not being mindful of what we are consuming and how our body reacts to whatever diet we are following. To survive, we need three macronutrients, which are protein, fats, and carbohydrates. The amount and source of each of these three will vary upon the individual.
Some of us might have a harder time digesting certain vegetables, fats, and even some protein sources. Everyone processes food differently. Let me say that again, EVERYONE PROCESSES FOOD DIFFERENTLY. This is key to understanding as you learn to eat mindfully. Yes, even your favorite celebrity processes food differently. I know it’s a pain to think we can’t just copy-paste a plan from our favorite influencer and get results as soon as we do. But knowing this is GOLD and the first step towards listening to what your body needs!
But if we are not aware of how certain diets and fads we follow are affecting our overall system individually, we are not eating mindfully. If we have an expectation that following a diet will get us to our weight loss goal, give us better performance, etc. just because it says so, then we are not being mindful about what is working for our body or what is not working.
So what can you do?
For an individual, you can start to incorporate mindful practices with whatever diet or macronutrient ratio you choose. The difference is, that you are paying attention to what isn’t working and what is working for your goal. Tracking your food and being conscious of how foods affect you is what really matters.
If you are not following any specific diet at all, but just want to incorporate general mindful eating practices, you can!
It starts with awareness!
- Tracking what you eat- You can see for yourself what foods provide healthy digestion, energy, and great overall performance. You learn from the foods you eat. You can change the sources, macronutrient ratios but as long as you pay attention, you are on your way to eating mindfully!
- Eating when you are hungry- “Am I really hungry? Do I just smell food and my mouth starts to water? I ate just an hour ago, so maybe hunger isn’t what I’m feeling. Was my last meal well balanced with my macronutrients?”
- Being in the moment when you are eating- Turn off any distractions that might be taking place like your iPhone, laptop or TV. Food is our fuel and every time we sit down to fuel our bodies it’s an opportunity to enjoy and savor every bite.
- Observe your emotional state- Are you stressed while eating, anxious, or angry? Your eating behavior will mimic whatever emotional state you are in. Give yourself a chance to be calm and connect with enjoying your food, tasting every bite and enjoying the experience.
Any ounce of awareness you express while eating will help you gain knowledge about your body. To learn to eat mindfully, there is no judgment necessary when looking at what works and what doesn’t work for you! It’s a practice and honestly, it will bring you greater appreciation of food, it’s benefits and develops a healthy relationship with nutrition..
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