Mindfulness and a Healthier You

In our ever increasingly frenetic culture we are all desperate for a little quiet. We are constantly bombarded with work, media, and social pressure and all of it is literally at our fingertips 24 hours a day. Mindfulness is actually an ancient technique of meditation that has found its way back into our consciousness in these busy times.

It is simply the deliberate process of clearing our minds, putting down our phones, breathing, and allowing ourselves to be truly aware of the present moment. As Mindfulness is practiced it can expand into our daily lives and most particularly in our approach to healthy living. When it comes to eating, mindfulness can help us be more present, more deliberate and more balanced in our approach to food. Here are five ways we can incorporate Mindfulness in our approach toward a healthy lifestyle.

Be Grateful

Before we even talk about food, an integral part of creating good habits is centering it all around gratitude. Before we fuel our bodies, we should stop and be grateful for them; grateful for the food we have available to us; grateful for our bodies’ ability to move and burn energy. And while we’re at it, we can take a minute to be grateful for all the other gifts in our lives: the beauty of nature, our homes, and our relationships.

Screens Down

This is very important. As a culture we have lost the art of an actual meal time. We eat in our cars, at our desks, and very often in front of the television, or with our phones in hand. Put down the phone, and turn off the television. When we are eating free of distractions, we are more aware of what we are eating, how much we are eating, and most importantly, when we are full. Allow yourself to be mindful of how the food tastes and feels, what you enjoy about the food, and your body’s cues telling you that you have had enough. Better yet, we can surround ourselves with friends and family while we eat, nourishing our bodies and souls simultaneously.

Listen to Your Body

It cannot be said enough: Do not eat if you are not hungry. Trust your body and listen to it. Be mindful of your body’s cues and respond appropriately.  Often we eat because we think it is “time,” but in reality we aren’t hungry. Perhaps we eat because the T.V. is on and that is a habit we have formed.  Or we are bored and so we reach for a snack. Mindfulness can help us recognize when we are actually hungry vs. when we are just indulging in a bad habit. 

Balance out Your Plate

Part of what we are learning when we strive for a healthy lifestyle is the balance required in our food choices. In addition to sitting at a table and paying attention to our bodies’ cues, we can be sure to balance our plates with Fiber, Fat and Protein. Fiber is more filling (think nice big plate of greens) and takes longer to break down, and similarly healthy fat is satiating and protein aids in tissue repair and cell growth.  We need a balance of all three to fuel our bodies. Being mindful of how we fill up our plates is key to living our healthiest life. 

Be Kind to Yourself

We need to underline this one, and write it in bold on our bathroom mirrors. We must learn to be mindful of our own voices. What are we saying to ourselves? Are we kind to ourselves? Are there things we tell ourselves that we would never say to our loved ones? Mindfulness can help us recognize the negativity we are creating by the criticism we heap on ourselves out of sheer habit.  This is the only body we have and it is a gift; we must learn to love it in every state as we work toward our healthiest selves. Be kind to yourself. 

Mindfulness takes practice and a deliberate choice to be more present in our everyday actions and choices but the more we do it, the more the action will be woven into our everyday lives. May we all learn to stop, breathe, be grateful and present to our lives, our habits, and all that is good in and around us. 

Do not eat if you are not hungry.
— Dr. Valerie Liao