There are countless things we can do in the kitchen to better our diets, energy levels and gut health, but without an overarching focus on eating mindfully, none of the other stuff really matters. Mindful eating simply requires a bit of thought behind what you’re putting into your body, and being intentional with the choices you make throughout the day.
“Eating mindfully is about having that level of consciousness within your own body to be able to intuitively nourish yourself while limiting outside stress and distraction,” Coach Lex explains. “This doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to make all of your own meals, but it does mean that you need to get to know your body so that you can give it what it needs, in the right amounts, in order to thrive.”
Understanding the right things to eat and when is stressful enough, so how can one even begin to think intuitively about what to put on their plates? Ahead, Lex offers some helpful guidance on strategies for mindful eating.
- Limit mindless snacking. Look forward to nutritious meals that you know will fuel and benefit your body. This is easier said than done, especially if working from home or looking for ways to distract throughout the day. Sometimes we all just need a bag of chips to crunch on and that is perfectly fine in moderation, but to take a more mindful approach, portion out a realistic amount in a bowl and truly enjoy it as an intentional treat. Take it a step further by making your own healthier versions at home, such as kale chips or carrot crisps.
- Listen to your hunger cues and know when you are full. This is why I love making my own meals. There is something about the process of cooking for yourself and portioning out your own food that makes this easier because you are consciously thinking about how much your body needs in that moment. When we order something at a restaurant it is important to think beyond what seems good or even “healthy,” in that moment and ask yourself questions like these: Do I need something more substantial and high in protein, or am I feeling low on energy and need something easier to break down, such as a plant based meal or juice?
- Consider where your food is sourced. Knowing where your food comes from is so important when talking about making mindful choices. So many of us are overwhelmed by the endless options and start to view our food as products, because they are often ready-made, packaged and branded. Read your labels, and practice mindfulness by understanding and connecting to the source. With that information, you're giving yourself the power to choose with intention, and also feel grateful for what it took to arrive on your plate.
- Sit down, make yourself comfortable and put your phone away. In our society where everything is about efficiency and multitasking, the process of eating meals has become just that—a lone process or rushed task when it should be viewed as a fundamental, self-care ritual that nourishes our physical and mental body. When you can, make it a priority to set aside time to enjoy your food sitting down without rushing, working, or browsing through Instagram. Make it an experience by enjoying it with someone else and engaging in conversation during the meal. That way, eating isnt just about the food; it's about the connection.
Want more from Coach Lex for National Nutrition Month? Check out her best tips on how to snack healthily at work, and stay tuned for more throughout the month. Or, if you're in the New York area, look out for her on our studio schedule.
Alexa Shamis is an Integrative Health Coach, with certification from the Institute of Integrative Nutrition as well as a certification from Nutritious Life. She loves sharing her movements and meals with others, as well as helping guide people down the right path to wellness. For more of her tips and advice, follow her at @lexshamis.