Thoughtful Food Choices To Nourish The Body
As we move into the overeating season with holiday gatherings and festive parties, it might be a good time to discuss the significance of mindful eating. In other words, it is important to be thoughtful about our food choices, but especially during this time of year when overeating may lead to poor control of high blood pressure, diabetes, and high cholesterol levels. We want to nourish our bodies from the inside out, and that means being considerate of the foods that we eat. We also want to feel satisfied for several hours after a meal.
It is important to identify eating triggers that do not have anything to do with physical hunger:
- Events such as birthday parties, holidays and weddings
Recognize physical hunger cues that signal the need for nourishing food:
- Inability to focus
- Low energy
- Stomach grumbles
- Feeling shaky
- Light headed
It is important to evaluate your relationship with food. Listen to and identify your hunger cues. Identify reasons that you eat when not physically hungry. It is important to recognize the difference between true hunger cues, and other situations or feelings that lead to eating. How might you handle those other feelings differently versus turning to food? Will a walk provide stress relief? Will journaling help with anxiety or anger?
Meals should be relaxing and enjoyable with a focus on the food and those you are eating with. No electronics. No distractions. Slow down eating - it does take about 20 minutes to feel full and satisfied.
A balanced meal will provide a physical, as well as emotional, level of satisfaction and fullness. Does your meal include vegetable or animal protein, and sources of fiber and fat? These all provide more satisfaction when you have finished a meal, and delay the emptying of the stomach, providing a full feeling for a longer period of time. Look at your mealtime food choices to be sure they are nourishing but also provide satisfaction.
About the Author
Rita Smith is a registered dietitian and has been working in the field of nutrition and disease prevention for more than 35 years and where she worked at Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital in Charlottesville, Va. Each week, Rita provided nutrition counseling to clients who have a variety of disorders or diseases, including high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, celiac disease, irritable bowel syndrome, gastroparesis and weight management. For these clients, food choices can help them manage their health problems.