Every day is an opportunity to take care of ourselves, and every meal is an opportunity to nourish our bodies. Our eating habits go way past our generation; we inherited many of our habits from our parents and grandparents. While so many are still in place, unfortunately, our obesity rates have increased, and people suffer from chronic diseases starting at a very young age. Below are some points to consider if you decided that today is the day to live a better life.
When I was introduced to mindful eating, I thought it is a magical diet where my mind will control my appetite and lose all the extra weight; oh, I was wrong !!!
Mindful eating is not a diet; it is the practice of trying to be present and paying attention to the Now! Most of us are wired to be on autopilot when it comes to food; we eat because it is time, or we just finished work or want to finish and do other essential things. Too much distraction is standing in our way.
Mindful eating is observing our body, what it needs, and what it wants. Putting all distractions aside, stress, drama, boredom, news, all of that. Just find a place to sit and eat that food; I recommend reading Tich Nhat Hanh’s books on mindful eating, including “Savor.”
Please do not focus on what you eat and how much at the start; observe and notice your body and its messages.
Food Labeling: Good vs. Bad
Are you familiar with the forbidden fruit syndrome? The fruit that is forbidden is the most we want to have. It is funny every time I visit a diet center and receive a diet plan with a red list; I start craving these right away!
Labeling food as good or bad reflects how we perceive ourselves; we fail if we eat bad food and feel proud if we survived all restrictions for a day or a week before we fail again.
Try this instead, look at food as joyful nourishment; remember your body needs carbs, protein, fat, and fiber. Look at your week plan, you have at least twenty-one meals. Aim to eat in moderation for most of them; it is ok if some were less nutritious. Practice self-compassion and enjoy the food; if you see a pattern in your food choices, look a bit deeper; maybe there is a reason behind it.
What is in your shopping trolley
This is one of the best practices to start with; remember, we do not need to label food as good or bad. Think about it this way; grocery shopping is investing your money in what adds value to your nutrition:
– We want food that is the closest to its nature: the best example is fresh produce.
– We want food that sustains our energy levels and filled with nutrients
– We want carbs, proteins, fiber, and fats.
– We want food that makes us happy after we eat it, not starving, regretting, nor shaming.
– Always keep a room to try a new item, one new item to explore.
Do not go super strict on yourself, neither waste your money on short-term pleasures. Swap your money with valuable nutrition.
Get Label Savvy
How much do you know about food labeling? We do not need to be certified nutritionists to have basic knowledge about what goes in our mouths. I’ll give you some quick tips below:
1. Ingredients: this is where all that goes in your food is listed. All ingredients are listed in order by weight, so if the first item you read is sugar, then most of that food is sugar!! Try to look at the back of a chocolate bar, 99% chance the main ingredient is sugar, even if it is promoted as 75% dark chocolate
2. How many ingredients: the best clean food is the one that has no label, no ingredients, but 100% pure something. If you read up to five ingredients, still you’re in an ok zone. More than that, you’re eating processed food.
3. Labels: this is where you see a breakdown of nutrients, calories per serving and how many servings the pack includes. Pay attention to the number of servings, especially the lightweight food such as cereals, Biscuits, and similar.
4. Fancy attractions: beware of fat-free, light, 0, reduced. This kind of food marketing is a trap when you do not read the labels carefully.
Resign from the clean plate club
Raise your hands if you grew up in a home where clearing your plate is your only way to have dessert, playtime, or even excused from the table.
Our parents had the best intentions to provide us with nourishment and grow respect for the food on our plates. But, unfortunately, we grew up ignoring our body signals, building unhealthy habits, and struggling with our weight to too many. If you’re a member of the “clean your plate club,” here is your way out:
– Start with meal prepping: if you cook nourishing food, everyone will end up with the right choice.
– Serve smaller: you can try serving on smaller dishes, or serve a smaller portion than usual, allowing a second refill if needed.
– Fight the food waste fear; if you leave food on your plate, you do not necessarily need to throw it. There is always a container, no matter how small you leave.
– Leftovers are perfect for new recipe recreation.
– Be mindful; check your hunger/full signals.
– Work it one meal at a time; you’re breaking a lifelong habit.
As a mom of two, I know I have pushed my daughters to eat and finish their greens when not hungry. I even ate their crumbs so many times. Mindful eating helped me to start right and making things better, one bite at a time. There is always the next meal to make it worth it.