Eating Healthy isn’t just about WHAT you eat, it’s HOW you eat by Beth Hollis

Eating Healthy isn’t just about WHAT you eat, it’s HOW you eat by Beth Hollis

Note: As those of you who are regular readers of the Olderhood blog will know, we are very passionate about the importance of maintaining your health and wellness as you age, and particularly in any preventative steps that can be taken to improve the quality of your life and increase longevity.

In last week’s article I wrote about the concept of Blue Zones and the proven positive impact that healthy lifestyle habits have on longevity.

This week it is my pleasure to introduce the team of healthcare professionals at Bermuda’s own Ocean Rock Wellness  who specialize in helping people to live a balanced and healthy lifestyle through a dynamic and mindful approach to healthcare. Their wellness blog features a lot of useful information to assist people throughout the course of their lives and they have very kindly agreed to permit us to share their content with Olderhood readers. The following article is the first in this new series:

Eating Healthy isn’t just about WHAT you eat, it’s HOW you eat by Beth Hollis

How many meals did you eat on the go today? Why did you choose the foods you ate? To satisfy your hunger or your emotions?
Today most of the discussion around healthy eating has focused on WHAT we eat, but what about HOW we eat? We all hear about the latest must have superfoods, and the healthiest whole foods to consume. But, we suggest you should also focus on your daily practices or habits around eating.

Our actions and attitudes around mealtimes are just as important as what we actually put in our mouth.

We use mindful eating – the practice of maintaining a nonjudgmental state of awareness around your thoughts, emotions and experiences while eating. Mindful eating is a concept from Buddhist teachings, one that encourages us to connect deeply to our experience while eating.
By paying attention to the way our food makes us feel, we get to learn about what foods truly satisfy us. Specifically, we can be more aware of the choices we make to satisfy our hunger verses satisfying our emotions. Studies have shown that when we eat mindfully we consume less calories and report a greater fulfillment. This concept was first featured in a 2012 New York Times article by Jeff Gordinier. He presented it as a challenge, encouraging his readers to try sitting down, away from distractions, with a meal you love. After each bite place the fork down and reflect on the flavors, textures and smells in minute detail. The article did provoke a few skeptical responses. Who has time to sit down and reflect over each bite? How can you eat without distractions with a house full of kids? The fact is, mindful eating doesn’t have to be this intense to reap the benefits. Just taking the time to slow down and eat intentionally has been proven to help manage eating disorders, maintain a healthy weight and increase your overall sense of well-being.

There are a variety of ways to introduce mindfulness around mealtime. Here are five of our favourites:

Decrease Distractions
When we eat with distractions we tend to overeat. Try turning off the t.v and put your phone away. Aim to eat your meals sitting down at a table, not hunched over the kitchen counter or in the car.
Take your Time
Make a conscious effort to slow down your eating. Slowing down helps you savor your food and be more aware of your body’s cues – telling you when you are full. Chewing slowly also aids with digestion, so less upset tummy’s after mealtime. Putting your fork down between bites is an easy way to slow things down.
Pay Attention
How does this sweet potato taste? What does it smell like? The texture? If you scarf down a meal in five minutes you likely didn’t notice any of these details. Paying attention to details can be a fun way to introduce mindful eating to the family. Have everyone share their observations and opinions about the meal.
Check In
Staying mindful throughout mealtime can sometimes be a challenge. So how about checking in before and after your meal. Notice how you feel before you eat. Why are you eating? Hungry? Bored or stressed? Then after your meal check back in. Feeling satisfied? Guilty? Did you overeat and now feel uncomfortable? Checking in can help you learn about your food choices and the way they make you feel. You may be more inclined to choose a different option next time.
Know your Food
Mindful eating is really about establishing a positive relationship with food. Part of this appreciation is knowing where your food comes from.  Ask yourself – who grew this? Where did it come from? How did it get here? How old is it?
This is our favourite mindful eating practice because it can impact so many factors of your eating habits. Before you know it some of your shopping habits will change as you are more conscious about your food sources.

We don’t think all of these mindful eating practices have to be implemented at once or all the time for that matter. Rather, think of exploring each on their own and slowly commit to respecting, appreciating and taking time to enjoy your nourishing food choices.

In our Fit For Life programs we have a cognitive behavioral therapist who can help you explore mindful eating and create an individual approach that best suits your current eating habits, attitudes and lifestyle. As you learn to focus on HOW you eat, not just WHAT you eat, you will find yourself developing healthier eating habits that last a lifetime!

By Beth Hollis

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Beth Hollis completed her Bachelor of honors in Health Sciences (BHSc) at Brock University St. Catharines, Ontario. This was followed by her Masters degree in Physical Therapy (MPT) at Western University London, Ontario. Beth is also a Certified Kinesio Taping Practitioner (CKTP). Beth has been working on the wards and in the out-patient Physiotherapy department at KEMH for the last 4 years, and is looking forward to bringing her wide range of knowledge and skills to Ocean Rock Wellness, Ltd. Beth makes giving back to the community a priority. She recently became Deputy Chair of the Bermuda Physiotherapy Association (BPA) after completing four years as their Educational Officer. Beth also sits on the Board of Physiotherapists, always supporting and advocating for her profession. Her passion for learning is closely mirrored by her passion for teaching. Beth has also completed certifications in acupuncture and yoga, and weaves those skills throughout her practice.

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