How to develop healthy eating habits

In trying to keep up with busy schedules, many of us replace nutritious meals with unhealthy on-the-go snacks. These tips will help you understand your relationship with food and develop healthier eating habits for the whole family.

By Josephine Matyas

What is mindful eating?
Photography by ©iStockphoto.com/vgajic
I like to eat. No, let's make that love to eat. Yet how many times did I munch away on autopilot, then suddenly look down to find an empty bowl where there was once one overflowing with buttery popcorn? I would have almost no memory of the taste, the texture, the pleasure of eating.

There were times I shoved a second forkful in before even swallowing the first, totally missing out on enjoying the flavours. The result? I saw numbers on the scale that scared me. I spent time creating delicious dishes but zipped through the actual dinner. (What did that wonderful casserole actually taste like?)

I invested time and hard-earned money at the grocery store and in the kitchen. But I couldn't help but notice that I was feeling disconnected from the food I was eating. I found a solution in the ancient Buddhist practice of mindfulness.

What is mindful eating?
Mindful eating is about quieting your mind and learning to check in with your thoughts and bodily cues. It's not a diet; it's a skill anyone can learn. And by cultivating
mindfulness, you bring about lasting change from the inside. Mindful eating fosters a healthy, healing, wholesome and balanced relationship with food.

According to Dr. Devon Christie, an integrative physician with Connect Health in Vancouver, "Mindful eating is much more about coming back to your own body and your inner wisdom. It empowers people to really listen to this rather than looking to external messages about food and eating."

Learning to listen to yourself
Awareness is key to mindfulness. Mindful eating involves being present in the moment with all of its experiences. Through this, you learn what it feels like to be hungry, satisfied and full. It's about tasting and savouring the food you are eating – one satisfying bite at a time.

And it's about checking in with your brain and stomach, and asking if your body needs this food, why you are eating it and how are you feeling when you eat it.

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