It has been several weeks since we’ve been confined at home due to current circumstances. For most of us, we have probably already taken an internal road-trip of self-discoveries, seeking answers to who we are and what’s next in terms of life progression. The more we dwell, the easier it becomes to spiral down a slope made up of our most raw and pure thoughts and emotions. This behaviour manifests into our technology and food consumption patterns, such as over-indulging on “compensatory” foods. Below, we explore how to maintain a mindful eating habit during this unsure time with our expert health coach, Valentina Dolci.
1. Defining hunger
When the sudden urge to reach for a snack pops up, ask yourself if you are actually hungry or feeling restless due to boredom, a sense of solitude or fear. Instead of reaching for a specific food first, try drinking a glass of water.
Oftentimes, the spur behind our pseudo-hunger hides behind dehydration. Typical hot beverages such as tea and coffee are very diuretic (an increase in urine production), so it is important to always follow up with a glass of water to compensate. After the glass of water, rest a hand on the base your stomach, inhale deeply with your eyes closed and ask yourself, do we really need what we are craving?
2. Avoid temptation
Caught by the attention of a freshly glazed piece of bakery? We are all for enjoying something sweet and tasty from time to time. However, if we are constantly reaching for foods high in sugar and salt content to satiate temptation, we risk diabolical implications on our physical and psychological health.
We understand. The visual stimulus makes it hard to restrain ourselves. Chocolate boxes and butter biscuits in salient display outside of the cupboards dotted around the house are what awaken the urges despite being full and satisfied from your meal not long ago. What to do? Avoid rolling the trolley down the snack aisles of the supermarket, reserving these items for special family occasions only. Otherwise, set up a family rule asking them to tuck it away when they are finished to avoid creating a culture of unhealthy chain snacking.
3. Maintain a structured mealtime routine
Work from home is the new style of work most of us are accustoming to. Despite spending most of our time at home, which can make hours and days blur into one, do not let this distract you and influence your mealtime routine. Regardless of the number of meals you were having each day, with or without snacks in between, try to maintain that rhythm at home.
Since our evenings have now opened up and the commute home has been cut out from the picture, utilise the extra spare time to establish an active framework to benefit you. For example, no eating later than 8pm and reducing water intake 2 hours before bedtime. This is to avoid interrupted sleep and aid the natural detoxifying processes that occur within our bodies throughout the night.
4. Introduction of smaller portions
Plan out ways to reduce your portion sizes. An idea could be preparing dishes for double the number of heads, splitting it into smaller portions and storing away in Tupperware in the fridge of freezer. Another idea is to serve on single plates to avoid second-helpings and using smaller plates to provoke the idea of a ‘heavy meal.’ Dressing the table with plates of fresh fruits can also give the impression of eating more.
5. Chew slowly before swallowing!
As a young child, we have all been chastised for shovelling food into our mouths so we can run off and play with our toys. And there is good reason for it because a recent study by The Guardian finds a link between individuals eating too quickly and health implications such as metabolic syndrome. Slow down by putting down the fork between mouthfuls, lifting your head away from your plate of food to engage in conversation with family or even to exchange eye contact. With this exercise, we grant our bodies an opportunity to saviour our food and embrace the sensation of fullness.
6. Watch the alcohol
We have been keeping a close eye on the pace we eat and our portion sizes but what about the liquids in our glasses? Valentina Dolci says, “Yes, watching our wine intake is equally as important as everything mentioned above. A glass or two of red wine in the evening to accompany a meal aids relaxation for some of us. Particularly for those who have had a long day working. However, alcohol weighs down the liver, where sugar builds up and alcohol stimulates a further appetite for many of us, which against our purpose.”
7. Consistency is key
Maintaining a habit of moving around is essential. There is no excuse to not exercise particularly given the wealth of exercise classes available online, as well as a wonderful selection of retreat programmes designed with healthy cooking classes included. We are really are spoilt for choice!
To support our mind and psyche to be calm and not succumb to anxious thoughts, let’s eat mindfully, focusing on nutritious values rather than “empty calories”, moving and sleeping well every night. Remember the old teaching “mens sana in corpore sano”! (Latin for, a healthy mind in a healthy body)