Your body is a biochemical environment that is deeply affected by what you eat and drink, so here are some more key pillars to mindful eating that’ll keep your body functioning at its best…
Do you tend to carry weight around your middle? Are your meals often only made up of carbs like pasta or pizza? Are you often sleepy after meals? If so, you’re likely suffering from roller-coaster blood-sugar levels.
To keep your blood sugar under control, stick to carbohydrates with a low GI (glycaemic index). The higher the GI index of your food, the more it acts like pure sugar in your body.
Low GI foods are generally wholefoods that contain plenty of fibre, such as vegetables, intact grains, beans, legumes, nuts, and seeds. With these, your body has to work to access the nutrients, digesting through fibrous outer layers, and releasing glucose slowly and steadily.
Good fat alert
Cell damage pumps inflammatory chemicals around your body and is caused by a wide array of triggers – including UV radiation, environmental toxins, and certain foods (in particular, refined carbohydrates, sugars, and saturated fats).
If most of your food comes out of a packet, or if you ignore most vegetables, including leafy greens, and rarely touch fish, you’re likely on the road to inflammation. Combat this by choosing foods that contain healthy unsaturated fats, such as omega-3 fatty acids found in oily fish, eggs, flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, walnuts, kale, and avocados.
Today, more than ever, we need to eat ‘defensively’; plant foods offer compounds that change the expression of certain genes, helping our bodies cope with the effects of ongoing stress, inflammation, and exposure to environmental toxins.
This means pile up on beans (black, cannellini, kidney, pinto, chickpeas), lentils, soy (edamame, tempeh, miso) and even herbs and spices (garlic, cinnamon, ginger, turmeric).
Good, clean and fresh
The human body evolved to eat real food, not refined, man-made combinations of ingredients.
Clinical trials show that the synergy between nutrients in wholefoods is what gives them their health-boosting benefits – the unique combination of vitamin E, magnesium, and zinc is what makes almonds a superfood.
By messing with the make-up of our food through refinement, we cheat ourselves out of these nutrients. Aim to eat whole, unprocessed foods whenever you can.
Colour me crazy
Your plate should be divided into three sections: ½ vegetables, ¼ proteins, ¼ starches.
Give a new meaning to taste the rainbow and make sure your selection of vegetables is as colourful as possible. Lean proteins are good for your heart and better for your waistline.
Wholegrains are also good for your heart and keep you feeling fuller for longer. While foods like yams, potatoes, and corn are considered vegetables, they are high in starch and should be placed on this part of your plate.
Mind your manners
All this caution counts for nothing if we don’t take the time to savour and enjoy our food.
Eating in front of the TV or computer screens, not listening to hunger or fullness signals, and generally not paying attention can lead to mindless eating and slow, creeping weight gain.
Take the time to savour your food, appreciate the work that went into making it, and notice the feelings of satisfaction when you’re finished.
- Adapted from Ruth Wolever and Beth Reardon’s book The Mindful Diet: How to Transform your Relationship with Food for Lasting Weight Loss and Vibrant Health (Atlantic Books)