There is a huge connection between mental health and diet, but the way in which we eat is also an integral part of our wellbeing. Modern society has somehow made it acceptable to eat food on the go; at our desk, walking down the street, scrolling through social media. Any flavour bypasses the taste buds as it hurtles through the digestive system, ready to cause chaos on the inside. Our bodies weren’t designed to receive food this way.
Mindful eating is the complete antithesis of this. It slows everything down, so we appreciate each mouthful and allow the food to really nourish the body from within. It brings us into the present, away from distraction, enabling any negative thoughts to stop in their tracks while the mind focusses on the task in hand. There is so much joy to be discovered in a diet of wholesome food. Changing the way you eat will change the way you feel.
The pandemic has forced many of us to slow down and rethink old habits. As the pace picks up, try not to get lured back onto the hamster wheel. Build time into each day to plan, prepare and enjoy.
Eat before hunger strikes
When you’re ravenous, you are more likely to lose control of what, and how, you eat. Try and set regular meal times each day. This will not only help with your metabolism, you’ll avoid skipping meals, mindless snacking and bad choices.
How many times have you found yourself at the checkout, not entirely happy with your lunch choice, but seemingly left with no other option? You have a deadline; there is no time to think about food. Reverse this process. Stock up your kitchen with fresh and whole food ingredients so you can plan your meals in advance.
Cook in batches and freeze, or enjoy the next day. Food preparation is a fantastic way to focus the mind and destress. You’ll notice the colours, textures and aromas as you cook, which is a joy in itself. You’ll also know exactly what’s going into your food, so there are no hidden nasties.
Make eating a ritual
Whether it’s a weekday lunch for one, or an evening family meal, make mealtimes an occasion. Put your phone away, turn the television off or step away from your desk. A park bench or your kitchen table can both allow for mindful eating, just take away the distractions. Even if it’s just 20 minutes, take this moment for yourself.
Your food has your full attention; enjoy it. Take small bites, and chew it properly. This not only gives your taste buds a treat, your digestive system will have less work to do. You’ll also give the food a chance to land, so you’ll know when you feel full.
Connect with your food
Think about how your food makes you feel. Notice the flavours, textures and aromas. You prepared it, so you know exactly what’s in it. Pick out your favourite herbs and spices, and try and distinguish between each individual taste.
Allow time for your food to settle
Jumping up as soon as you’ve finished your last mouthful isn’t great for digestion. Give your body some time to accept the food, and allow it to convert all the nutritious goodness into energy. Listen to your body.
Somewhere along the way, we lost the joy of mealtimes. As time increasingly slipped away (pre-lockdown), mindless eating became the norm. It’s time to turn this around, and rediscover the pleasure food can bring.
Have your say
How do you eat? Do you take time out for lunch or stay glued to a screen? We’d love to hear your thoughts, and any ideas to break a bad cycle are always welcome. Click here to find out more about our nutritious mealtime recipes.