How to eat mindfully

A balanced meal of chicken, rice and vegetables

Meditation and mindfulness are both about bringing awareness to yourself in the present and can help ease feelings of anxiety and stress. Eating mindfully is also talked about frequently but what does it actually mean in reality? 

It can actually mean different things to different people but overall it’s about getting the most out of your mealtime experience and, in turn, harnessing the wonderful powers of nature for maximum health benefits.

This World Meditation Day Clinical nutritionist Suzie Sawyer shares her three top tips on how to eat mindfully.

Plan your meals with passion

Mealtimes are not just a time for re-fuelling the body with essential nutrients. They are an opportunity to show your body some love and also enjoy what you’re eating.  Think about living to eat rather than eating to live, because food is one of life’s pleasures.

Person's,Hand,Filling,Meal,Plan,Form,On,Clipboard

Unfortunately, life is busy and meal planning often goes down the list of priorities. However, rather than over-complicating things, try to plan at the beginning of the week and just think about the amount of colour each meal is going to provide.  The more colour, the more nutrients you will consume and the more appealing the food on the plate becomes.

Vegan,Chili,With,Beans,,Mushrooms,,And,Vegetables

Two great examples of colourful meals would be mixed bean chilli, including tomatoes and chopped carrots, with basmati rice and some steamed broccoli. Or how about poached salmon, mashed sweet potato, with steamed cauliflower and mange tout.  Both of these will provide wonderful health benefits with a great combination of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.Boost your Breakfast

Chew thoughtfully

This advice is actually embedded in science.  When we chew slowly, putting our knife and fork down between mouthfuls, the sophisticated and complex signalling mechanism that engages from mouth to gut works much more efficiently.  In turn, digestive enzymes and bile production are increased (both essential for successful overall digestion) and this also helps nutrient absorption.

A balanced meal of chicken, rice and vegetables

Additionally, the satiety hormones that signal feelings of fullness are also triggered with slow, mindful eating rather than ‘scoffing’.  In short, it will stop you overeating and taking in additional and maybe unwanted calories.

The,Smiling,Woman,Enjoys,Eating,A,Salmon,Salad.,To,Lose

In terms of mindset, taking time to savour each mouthful also enhances enjoyment of the meal generally.  Furthermore, it’s no secret that wolfing down food causes all kinds of digestive issues.  Be kind to mind and body and your relationship with food will improve significantly.

Meal timing creates greater harmony

With so much information available and so many different dietary plans being followed, it’s no wonder that confusion reigns when it comes to when to eat.  The most important thing to remember is that the body likes routine and, importantly, likes to know when it’s going to be fed. So, chopping and changing and eating at erratic times is not being kind to our body and it may start to store fat to protect itself from potential starvation.

Alarm,Clock,,Plate,And,Cutlery,On,Red,Background,,Flat,Lay.

In order to be mindful about your own personal decision around following a specific diet, the most important point is not to chop and change.  For instance, there is good research to support the effectiveness of intermittent fasting for weight loss, either 16:8 or 5:2.  However, both need careful planning, mainly to ensure as many nutrients are included but also to ensure meal timing is consistent.

Breakfast,,Lunch,And,Dinner.,Healthy,Eating,For,Day

Generally, most people tend to follow the traditional three meals per day plan, which the body likes.  Even if you can’t quite face breakfast first thing, do make sure you’ve eaten it by around 10 am in order for the subsequent meals to be spaced out evenly.  The body also likes to have plenty of time to enter the post-absorptive phase of digestion, which helps balance blood sugar levels and, in turn, aid weight management. Many of us constantly graze, even without thinking.  And this certainly doesn’t constitute mindful eating.

So, by planning your meals and relishing every mouthful of food, this mindful eating will improve your approach to food and increase your enjoyment too.

Stay well.

FOR MORE GREAT DIET AND LIFESTYLE ADVICE:

Sign up to receive our blog and get a weekly dose of the latest nutrition, health and wellness advice direct to your inbox.

Follow us on Twitter @feelaliveuk for nutrition, lifestyle and well-being tips.

Visit us at www.feelaliveuk.com for the latest offers and exclusive Alive! content.

Follow and Chat with Suzie on Twitter @nutritionsuzie

For everything you need to know about vitamins, minerals and herbs visit our sister site Herbfacts

All images: Shutterstock

 

How to practise Self-Love this February

Close up of a note book with a woman writing 'Love Yourself'

Valentine’s Day and the month of love is upon us. And whilst it’s often a time when we think about how best to treat our loved ones, we shouldn’t forget about the greatest love of all – the love we should have and show to ourselves.

SMALLER--4 Suzie Blog pic

Practicing self-love and self-care has wonderfully positive effects on health.

Clinical Nutritionist, Suzie Sawyer, shares her five favourite ways of practicing nutritional and lifestyle self-love.

Sleep like a baby

As we know, babies always prioritise their sleep. It’s just their exhausted parents that don’t manage to do this! However, why not go back to when you were a baby? With a very high percentage of the population suffering from sleep deprivation, make sure that getting a good night’s sleep is a priority and at the top of your self-love list.

Happy woman sleeping, cuddling pillow and smiling

Adopt a ‘baby’ routine. Turn off all electronic devices at least two hours before bedtime; blue light disrupts sleep and brain chemistry. Eat your last meal around 7 pm at night so you’re not bloated when you go to bed. Have a small tryptophan-rich snack half hour before bedtime to promote the body’s natural release of the sleep hormone, melatonin: try oat cakes, a banana, some nuts or yoghurt.

Have a warm bath, grab a good book and spray some lavender on your pillow. If sleep is a real problem, then try taking some herbal relief such as valerian which will help. You and your body will love the benefits you gain from sleeping soundly.

Eat dark chocolate

Valentine’s Day would not be complete without chocolate and what better news that it can actually be healthy! Cocoa is super-healthy; it’s packed with antioxidant-rich polyphenols that help reduce blood pressure, prevent serious degenerative diseases and keep the brain sharp.

Pieces of dark chocolate

It is the other ingredients that manufacturers use in chocolate products that make them unhealthy, packed with sugar and fat-laden. So look to buy chocolate made from at least 80/85% cocoa solids. Chocolate is the food of love, so make sure you give your body what it deserves!

Eat mindfully

This may be a well-quoted phrase but it’s a really important part of your self-love programme. Most importantly, eating food on the run and in a rushed state means the body can’t digest it properly, leading to bloating. When the body is in the fight or flight mode (during the stress response), blood flow is moved away from the digestive organs and sent to muscles which also doesn’t help digestion.

Woman eating a healthy breakfast with berries, yoghurt and orange juice

One of the most important things about eating mindfully is to eat lunch away from your desk and really appreciate every mouthful. Many afternoon digestive issues have been solved by taking a complete break from emails (and social media) and really enjoying a meal.

Have lots of vitamin C

If you’re not feeling great about yourself and want some self-love, then freshening up your complexion can really help. Vitamin C is key in keeping skin looking young, fresh and wrinkle-free. This is partly due to its key role in the production of collagen, the body’s main structural protein.

A selection of fruit and vegetables high in Vitamin C

As vitamin C is easily lost during storage, preparation and cooking of food, then you should be aiming to eat around seven portions of fruit and veg daily (aim for 80%/20% Vegetables to fruit to avoid too much sugar). However, it’s certainly worth also including a vitamin C supplement every day in order to maximise its activity and get working on your skin from the inside out.

Get your B’s

That’s B vitamins! There are eight of them and they all work together. Most importantly, they’re essential for keeping your nervous system running smoothly, balancing your mood and increasing energy levels – all key ingredients for making sure you ‘feel the love’.

A range of foods containing Vitamin B6

Foods such as eggs, salmon, nuts, oats, bananas, spinach and broccoli (plus many more) are all rich sources of B Vitamins. B-vitamins are water-soluble so easily excreted from the body. If you’re feeling low and lacking in motivation, then it is really worth looking at your diet to see what’s lacking. Low vitamin B12 is often implicated in cases of depression and is only found in animal produce, so supplements may well be needed.

So enjoy the month of (self) love and don’t forget about YOU in the process.

 

 

FOR MORE GREAT DIET AND LIFESTYLE ADVICE:

Sign up to receive our blog and get a weekly dose of the latest nutrition, health and wellness advice direct to your inbox.

Follow us on Twitter @feelaliveuk for nutrition, lifestyle and well-being tips.

Visit us at www.feelaliveuk.com for the latest offers and exclusive Alive! content.

Follow and Chat with Suzie on Twitter @nutritionsuzie

For everything you need to know about vitamins, minerals and herbs visit our sister site Herbfacts