Mindful Eating: Experience the joy of making healthy choices
By Lisbeth Irish RDN, CDN, CDCES
Eating healthy foods can be fun. Changing how we eat can sometimes give us a whole new perspective, especially the notion that eating healthy foods is a “chore.”
Mindful eating is a concept that has successfully changed how people experience eating and has a positive effect on the food choices we make. It means paying close attention to the experience of eating on several levels.
Many of us are so busy and preoccupied that we are on auto pilot when we eat. Automatic eating can contribute to poor choices. Focusing on conscious eating helps us make better choices by eliminating at least some of our “impulsive” habits.
Using all five senses to experience eating is an effective approach, and is a key to building mindful eating into your lifestyle.
Here’s how to start: Eat slowly and chew thoroughly. Pay close attention to each of your senses as you eat.
Sight: Enjoy the colors on your plate. Not very colorful? Add a fruit or vegetable.
Smell: Inhale the aroma of food; the comforting smell of a homemade soup, or the room-changing vibe of an Italian red sauce. Adding a fresh herb enhances aromas.
Hearing: Listen for the crunch of a carrot, or the rustle of popcorn. The crisp sound of eating lettuce or biting into an apple from a local orchard enhances the experience.
Touch/Texture: Take note of the creamy texture of hummus, the smoothness of yogurt, and crumbly texture of granola. The crusty feel of a piece of whole wheat toast is reason enough to make that a healthier choice versus white, processed breads.
Taste: Most of us love sweet and tart taste of a strawberry, or the earthy flavor of a roasted beet, and the multiple flavors in a hearty stew. Eating slowly allows time for the tastes we enjoy to manifest themselves.
Other ways mindful eating helps us make healthier choices:
- Mindful eating involves slower eating and enhanced enjoyment of quality vs quantity of food…” less is more” and can result in moderation.
- Mindful eating also encourages you to choose foods that make your plate look and taste differently and often results in more variety.
Moderation and variety are the foundation of making healthy food choices. Moderation encourages portion control and a variety of food provides a broader range of nutrients as each food brings its special package of nutrients.
Good nutrition provides us with vitamins and minerals we need. Try not to forget to fully enjoy healthy food choices, and you’ll improve your diet in significant ways.
Lisbeth Irish RDN, CDN, CDCES is a Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist with the New York State Office for the Aging (NYSOFA). She has over 25 years of experience working as a Registered Dietitian in a variety of settings and currently oversees the NYSOFA SNAP-Ed Nutrition Education program for older adults in New York State. Lisbeth is also a Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist. She attended NY Medical College and has a degree in Nutrition from SUNY Oneonta. Lisbeth enjoys reading, nature, and traveling. Lisbeth says she feels very fortunate to be working with such a dedicated group of professionals at NYSOFA.