A while ago, I asked this question on my Facebook Page:
What do you think is the simplest, but perhaps not the most obvious, nutritional change everyone can make?
It’s one of the most commented-on posts I’ve ever had!
Here were some of the most popular guesses in no particular order:
- drink more water
- eat less
- cut out sugar
- eliminate carbs
- eat real food
- don’t eat after dinner
- intermittent fasting
- eat more vegetables
- cut out snacking
- watch alcohol intake
Many of these are excellent ideas depending on where you are starting.
But they weren’t the answer I had in mind.
In my book, The Play Book: How To Get In The Habit Of Good Health, I briefly touch on nutrition because, let’s face it, food like exercise deserves a book on its own. Yet, how you like to eat, like how you play, is very personal.
Eating well and play (exercise) goes hand in hand with rest and sleep to keep your body able to handle everyday stress, reduce inflammation and protect your immune system.
It’s preventative medicine at it’s best.
And wow, lately, we’ve all been under significant pressure to keep calm and carry on during a global pandemic.
I recently laughed when I read, “who wants to have a New Year’s party on June 30th and pretend the first half of 2020 was just a bad dream? I’ll make margaritas!”
And although you might want to hear that margaritas are healthy for you and might be the nutritional change you need, that’s not the answer either.
The first step with better nutrition starts with slowing down or mindful eating.
Healthy eating is a mindful habit-based behaviour. Stress in our lives can often lead us to rush through a meal without ever taking the time to appreciate our food.
Eating becomes mindless.
When was the last time you knew when you were truly hungry or full?
Mindless eating can turn food into “bad” versus “good” and supply a cascade of emotions, including shame or guilt, which is no fun.
In the book “Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think” author Brian Wansink, PH. D. touches on an essential point that we can reshape “our personal food environment to help us and our families eat better. We can turn the food in our life from being a temptation or a regret to something we guiltlessly enjoy. We can move from mindless overeating to mindless better eating.”
The reality of our lives today is that many people have to stay home for longer durations than usual, and that means people are eating together more often.
It’s not easy in my house sometimes to master this habit.
In our family, two eat super fast – my dog even faster! The faster you eat, the more indigestion you will suffer.
Sometimes the simplest nutritional change is the hardest.
The easiest way to start slowing down is by setting a timer for one meal and see how long it takes you to eat it. The next time you have a meal, can you make it last just a little bit longer?
The length of time depends on you, but a meal should take at least 20 minutes to consume.
Adding mindful eating to your healthy lifestyle can be an excellent way to complement your existing habits.
It can help you lose weight (because you notice that you are full and might not finish everything on your plate), aid in digestion, and help you enjoy your food more than ever.
In addition to weight management or even weight loss benefits, some studies show that we absorb more nutrients when our food adequately breaks down in our mouth before digestion.
Mindful eating can also help you enjoy your food more as well as those with whom you are eating it with. Take the time to savour the various flavours and textures as you chew.
Give it a try and see how you feel!