I consider myself a healthy eater. I'm not vegetarian, not paleo, have never been on a diet or cleanse of any kind, and have never tried meal alternatives like Soylent. However, I believe my personal dietary choices help me live a mindful, well-balanced life.
For starters, I eat a salad a day (without dressing), don't drink caffeine, eat as few processed foods as possible, avoid empty carbs such as pasta and bread, and limit my sugary food intake to about twice a week. How did I become this way, you ask?
I could say it's from sheer willpower, but I have to thank my nutritionist-researcher mom, who fed me organic food before I could speak, and my fitness junkie dad, who's predicted almost every healthy food trend that's surfaced in the past years, for making me this way.
At this point, you're probably either thinking I'm crazy or that this is just another article about healthy eating. But I don't want to talk about healthy eating. Instead, I want to talk about how changing the way we view food can positively impact our well-being. After practicing healthy eating habits for a long time, I've realized a few things about our relationship with food that I think are not only worth noting, but also changing.
Let me start with my food philosophy, if you will. Eating is something that we do everyday. If you think about it, it's an action that easily becomes as mindless as brushing our teeth or as pressing the correct elevator button to our apartment floor. Eating is, quite obviously, more essential to our survival than are such daily tasks, but has sadly devolved into a routine act of putting food into our mouths, chewing, and swallowing, all without much deliberate thought. However, because the act of eating directly determines aspects of our well-being such as physical (and arguably, mental) health, isn't it time to start seriously reflecting on eating as a task in and of itself?
When the act of eating becomes lost in the ups and downs of our daily lives, we forget the beauty that can be contained in such a simple action. A proposed solution is a concept called "mindful eating," which basically places the thoughtfulness back into eating. According to The Center for Mindful Eating, mindful eating involves "allowing yourself to become aware of the positive and nurturing opportunities that are available through food selection and preparation by respecting your own inner wisdom," and of accepting your own dietary decisions.
Why Mindful Eating Matters
Mindful eating is about connecting our minds, hearts, and mouths, and then channeling our perceptions from those separate areas into diverse and coherent food decisions that we consciously bring into reality, one moment at a time. When we eat mindfully, we are reminded that eating is a powerful means of choosing our own destinies, at least in small ways. Putting the thought back into eating is about making food decisions not based on what's convenient or familiar, but on self-awareness, which is rooted in self-acceptance and self-love.My favorite thing about mindful eating is that it respects each individual's dietary decisions, because those decisions come from an authentic place of self-reflection within each individual. So, the eat-whatever-comes-my-way individual, the vegetarian, paleo eater, and mono-meal enthusiast are all equally justified in their decisions, because they have each made the conscious choice of adhering to a certain diet. The mindful eater is simply someone who has reflected on his or her dietary choices and understands that diets will be different for different individuals.
Basically, mindful eating is about listening to your body's dietary wants and needs and accepting them as legitimate because they come from the person who knows you the best — you. So, the next time you make a food decision for dinner, don't base it on what has the lowest calories, or what will help you lose the most weight, but rather on what resonates with you the most in the present moment (meaning, you don't have to always skip that dessert brownie). With so many food options in the world, let's take a minute to truly appreciate the fact that we have control over the food we put into our bodies, and that what we eat has the power to make us whole. Until then, eat on, be mindful, and think about the food you eat a little more everyday.