As the coronavirus continues to impact many lives, a lot of us have lost our daily structures and routines. Being stuck at home has meant we are right near our kitchen all day – the perfect setup to indulge on snacks whenever we feel bored, lonely or overwhelmed. These changes have highlighted the importance of understanding and nurturing the relationship between nutrition and our health. Healthy, well-balanced and mindful eating plays a significant role in keeping our immune system in good shape to protect against disease.
Taking a mindful approach to eating often helps individuals to stay on track during stressful and unpredictable times. We know that you may have already read about this in Chapter 8 of your HWFL Week by Week Guide but as a refresher of what mindful eating is, it is a technique that connects our mind with our mouth allowing us to pay closer attention to what we are consuming and how it affects us. Below we have a practical step-by-step guide to help you along:
1. STEP OUT AT YOUR OWN PACE
Deciding to eat mindfully shouldn’t feel like an overwhelming burden. Start small – focus on having one mouthful of your afternoon snack. Then build up by eating one meal a week or one meal a day more mindfully. Remember, it’s not a competition or race.
2. CHECK IN WITH YOURSELF
Take a moment to tune in with your body. Are you hungry? Notice if your stomach is grumbling or feels empty. How are you feeling? Notice if you are stressed, worried, calm or excited. By taking this time to honour your physical and emotional signals, you’ll get better at distinguishing between them. This means you’ll be more likely to eat when you’re actually hungry, rather than using food as a coping tool.
3. SET ASIDE YOUR DISTRACTIONS
Step away from the screens. Yes, that means saying a quick goodbye to your smartphone, laptop and TV (just for a little while). It is really difficult to eat mindfully if your eyes aren’t looking at your plate and your thumb is scrolling through articles of the latest news updates. So, in this precious moment that you’ve got for eating, let go of the distractions and be present to focus on your mindful eating.
4. TURN UP YOUR SENSES
Sight. Smell. Sound. Taste. Touch. With mindful eating, you get to use all your senses to explore and savour the colour, aroma, texture and flavour of every bite. Your morning toast will no longer be so mundane and boring when you notice its golden colour and the satisfying crunch as you bite into it. For some of us, we now have more time than before to experiment with recipes. Try to keep a balance of foods from each food group (revisit your portion planning guidelines in your Week by Week Guide!) and keep your senses engaged by using a variety of herbs, spices and different coloured vegies.
5. SLOW DOWN YOUR EATING
It can be tempting to shovel down your food but it is important to take the time to chew thoroughly. Put down your utensils between each bite. Slowing down helps us to digest better and gives us time to contemplate our food. By doing this, we’ll be less likely to eat beyond our comfortable level of fullness!
Eating is a fundamental part of our health and lives. Whatever you do during this time, don’t feel guilty for eating (or overeating). However, we hope this has encouraged you to choose mindful eating (where eating involves slowing down and savouring food) over mind full eating (where eating is distracted by thoughts and feelings) as much as possible.
Struggling to find healthy recipes to cook during this time? Click here for a range of recipe ideas!