So what does mindfulness really means? We hear this word more and more these days. Be mindful of this, be mindful of that, you are not being mindful enough, you need to work on your mindfulness…..
The word has been defined by Jon Kabat-Zinn, a mindfulness author and instructor, as the art of being present and paying attention with purpose in a non-judgemental way. Ok, so being present…wait how do I do that? And non-judgementally?...Well that’s going to be hard.
Since I am a nutritionist, I want to approach mindfulness from a food perspective. What are a few strategies that will allows us to be present and non-judgemental with our food and the relationship we have with it? Let’s explore a few options.
What about if we take the stress off our minds by having a ready-to-go answer to the never-ending question of what should I eat for breakfast, lunch or dinner? For this approach it would be important to pick foods that are less likely to cause food sensitivities. At the same time, the length of this technique is for a limited period of time only (3-5 days) as we do need a variety of foods in our diets, of course. I personally tend to have the same breakfast every day: Wake up and have 2 glasses of room temperature lemon water. I drink them slowly, and never chug them. After this I eat my fruit which is usually berries, and after half an hour or so I eat 2 eggs with avocado and gluten free toast. Breakfast done. I change it up over the weekends to keep things interesting.
AM I REALLY HUNGRY?
Another way to explore our capacity to stay present when it comes to food is to ask ourselves am I really hungry? Sometimes we are just stressed, and as a reaction to these extra stimuli, our bodies will crave more sugar. By identifying this cue we can actively choose how to respond to this now identified craving. Other times we are just thirsty and having a glass of water will help us rehydrate and actually take the time to consider if our hunger is real. Lastly, there is the possibility of just being hungry. However, taking the time to go through step one and two is important and will help us to really connect with the feeling or the illusion of being truly hungry.
Chewing is perhaps one of the most underestimated steps of our digestion process. When we chew we are not only breaking down our food into smaller particles for better handling in the stomach, where it will churn further, but also we are actually starting the digestion of carbohydrates thanks to the salivary enzyme amylase. Furthermore, chewing acts as a trigger that signals our digestive system to kick-start our digestion process. So next time you are eating in a hurry, reflect on how you are halting an extremely efficient process by just not chewing properly.
LISTEN TO YOUR BODY
Listening in to your body should be a given, particularly when talking about mindfulness and how this is the art of being present.
What about the non-judgemental part of it though?
This is where I think we need to have an open mind. More often than not I hear people switching to diets that sound quite healthy on paper, but once they try them, they feel extremely tired and without energy. In other words, they are missing nutrients that their bodies are telling them they need but their minds are telling them they don’t. Finding the right balance for you requires taking under consideration how you FEEL when you have a certain food, or the lack of it. So keep an open mind, explore, try different things, but ultimately always listen to this amazing body of yours — it knows what it needs.
This is more of a personal technique I like to have at any given moment where I drink water. I try to actively tell myself to take a pause, check in with myself and slow down. I try to breathe in between drinks, stretch a little, and observe my surroundings. Drinking water for me means Laura’s time and I love it. I actually seek drinking water just so I can have those moments with myself. Do you have a Velcro moment like this? They are Velcro moments because doing one means complementing it with another moment that makes it a whole.
As always, Bonfire Nutrition’s motto is consistency, not perfection and when it comes to developing a mindful relationship with your food, there is no difference. So don’t beat yourself up if one day you need to devour that lunch in five minutes before your next task; just remind yourself that this is an exception and not a rule.
Keep on Thriving.
Laura Spencer. R.H.N.
I'm Laura, a Nutritional Consultant with a background in Literature.
Let me explain.
In my early twenties my love for books and stories led me to study literature in my home country of Chile. After finishing those enriched years at University, I decided to move to Canada.
After living in Whistler, BC for over ten years, it was time to move once again. My husband and I decided to change gears and move to beautiful Vernon, BC. This obviously meant yet another modification to my life-plan.
I attended the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition because of my love of healthy food. I learnt so much more than just healthy eating. Our body is a miracle, literally. The food, the thoughts and the things we do and say have an effect on our health. Our body is more than just the sum of its parts. We are a harmonious union between body, mind and spirit.