Why do we want to consider how and what we eat? Many studies show the correlation between health status and nutrition. Some of us may seek to improve a health condition, and others to invest in their long-term health. Therefore why not chose to eat healthier meals to feel better?
The focus of this blog is to provide a path ahead for those who are ready to make the change to healthier eating habits.
For many of us, work and lifestyle changes during the pandemic affected the way we eat. Working from home allowed more independence, made greater demands of the workers. Lunchtime is then replaced by a quick snack by the computer.
Similarly we are so addicted to continuous searches on our devices that we could eat dinner sitting next to someone we love yet be miles away because of the cell phones.
Let’s start by going “back-to-basics” with our eating habits by asking ourselves some questions: What kind of food we eat?, How is it prepared?, Where did it come from?, and When are we eating our meals?.
The intended change needs to start with clearer understanding how much time and effort will yield positive changes we seek. Again, asking the right questions is helpful in being aware of what, where, how, when, and with whom, we eat.
Knowing how to identify behaviors that drive mindless eating, learning strategies for mindful eating, and understanding the importance in connecting with food is essential.
Perhaps we often consume food without thinking, driven by the environment or our mood without any planning. We might not have any idea what is it we eat and how it is nurturing our body. This passive and responsive behavior to our environmental cues and triggers around eating is defined as mindless eating. It is convenient but it does carry a price of our healthfulness' decline.
On the other hand the core principles of mindful eating include being aware of the nourishment available through the process of food preparation and consumption, choosing enjoyable and nutritious foods, acknowledging food preferences non-judgmentally, recognizing and honoring physical hunger and satiety cues, and using wisdom to guide eating decisions. Consider the below listed strategies to help you become a more mindful eater.
Strategies for Mindful Eating
How hungry are you?
Ideally, you want to fall into the 4-6 range in the hunger scale of 1-10.
Understand hunger and satiety
Shifting your mindset from “eating until you’re full” to eating until you’ve just had enough. “Just enough” means that you’ve eaten the right amount to support your hunger for about 4 hours.
Observe hunger, fullness, emotions, and perceived healthfulness
Write in a journal to track results and notice trends. Accountability to oneself can be important to changing behavior.
We get satisfaction from chewing – that’s why we like foods with various textures. Chewing food not only gives your mouth more satisfaction, experiencing changing textures and flavors, but it helps us get more nutrients from what we eat. There are enzymes in saliva that break down food, allowing the mouth to begin absorbing nutrients even before we swallow our food.
Give yourself a 30-60 second pause before making a decision to reach for that cake. This can help recognize triggers. Do you need or want it? Is there snack that is more nutritious a better choice? Managing the environment with healthy options available is key. Consider having a healthy snack with you at all times.
Embrace healthier foods
Ask yourself: “What are you asking your food to do for you?" To fuel, to comfort, to nourish, to prevent disease, to entertain, or ? We want to nourish our bodies and enjoy what we are eating.
Cooking healthy food
Decisions about what to eat for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks, are mainly determined by what foods the grocery shopper (aka. the nutritional gatekeeper) brings into the house. Keep cooking simple and convenient. Cooking good food is simpler then you might think.
Habit Stacking Method
Habit stacking is a method of behavior change that involves creating a list of small, manageable tasks that you can complete each day to help you reach your goal. The best part of habit stacking is that it doesn’t require a huge time commitment – you can start small and gradually add on as you go. For example: week one goal is “to drink more water” and week two “to eat more vegetables” in addition to the prior week’s goal.
“Weekly Habit Building Calendar” ebook is not just a guide; it's a catalyst for change, offering you 52 practical and impactful nutritional habits you can adopt each week that can have a significant impact on your health long-term.
Each week, you'll be introduced to a new habit, designed to be easily integrated into your routine. Practice the habit throughout the week.
When it comes to developing habits that improve health, many people find that stacking them one on top of the other makes the process a lot easier. This involves linking a new healthy habit to an already established habit so that you don’t have to focus as much energy on making the change. Weekly habit building calendar might be a helpful tool so give it a try.
Is Your Kitchen Set up Healthy?
Now that we understand how to eat mindfully and build our healthy eating habits, let’s continue with taking a look at our kitchen. Building a healthy kitchen begins with organizing your food preparation environment. Look at how your spaces/kitchen zones are organized to make meal preparation more efficient .
It might sound scary, but now’s the time to venture into the depths of the pantry to see exactly what you have, then strategize how to use it (or if not needed, toss it!). Save money as you work through shelf-stable items before purchasing duplicates and remember to re-stock those healthy staples that make fast weeknight meals, like this sheet pan dinner a breeze. Some of our favorites are canned tomatoes, coconut milk, vegetable broth and nutrient-rich whole grains like quinoa.
Within the Recipes page you will find "Kitchen Revival" ebook guiding you through the food preparation areas and the review process.
When your your kitchen is efficient, weekly meal preparation becomes easier by essembling the fresh produce options from the fridge, freezer friendly meal options, and out-of-pantry non perishables. The process is efficient and joyful for preparing delicious menu options.
Time spent on planning and preparation frees up time for enjoyment and it saves money. Meal planning is key to staying on track with your healthy living goals so make it a goal to find an approach that feels doable -- and more importantly, sustainable -- in the long term.
Begin your meal planning with recipes you like followed by those that you would like to try. Consider the ingredients for each recipe, and when you need to use a diary substitute , for example, you revise your shopping list.
Meal prep is trendy because it empowers us to choose healthier ingredients at the grocery store. Quality ingredients are the most important in meal preparation. If you are not sure where to begin, try “ Pantry Meal” or “Mason Jar Salad” ideas (Recipes page).
There is so much more to blog about the topic of nutrition, however, this message is about the path towards building healthier eating habits as the start on the way to being healthier. I am a believer that in order to build sustainable healthy eating habits, we need food diversity in - nutrients, flavors, and colors in addition to the intentional behavioral transformation.
Dedicating time to assess our current eating habits, kitchen set up, cooking routine, and embark on meal planning can produce results that last. A simple, well-planned menu and well-stocked pantry will reduce the stress in the kitchen, limit the need for takeout, and give us more time to enjoy cooking good food.
Learn to Eat Mindfully :)
PS. Don't forget to download printable ebooks and recipes