What are you in the mood for?


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healthier eating habits

The last two years we’ve been cooped up at our homes, shaded from pollution, sun damage, germs and even harsh weather conditions. We’ve gone out of our way to keep our skin and hair healthy; we’ve nourished our mental health; and we’ve been able to survive a pandemic by boosting our immunity with supplements and age-old grandma recipes.

Various health elements and lifestyle choices that we never talked about before have become ‘new trends’ that we are now taking care of— like gut health, veganism and fitness challenges. We have consciously chosen to understand our bodies better, and now that we’ve done that, we must continue to treat them right.

Solution: Two concepts of eating healthy that will change your life and health for the better— Mindful eating and Flexitarianism.

What is Mindful Eating?

When you hear the word ‘mindful’, you think of the Buddhist concept of ‘mindfulness’ or a meditating technique that allows you to completely be aware of you and your surroundings. Mindfulness allows you to be so alert and attentive, that you are completely in your present, so your past negativities and future stress cannot bother you.

When mindfulness is associated with your food, it lets you listen to your body and its true needs. Mindful eating is followed by psychologists around the world to treat eating disorders as well as body image issues.

When you use this technique while eating you get to experience your meal with all your senses and eat the quantity you truly need— not more, not less. Your body constantly cues you about cravings, your deficiencies, needs and limits. Without mindfulness, we tend to eat our emotions rather than understanding these cues.

How to eat mindfully?

1. Understanding the difference between true hunger and non-hungry triggers.

When you’re hungry, you feel an empty ache in your stomach, it growls, or you feel low on energy. Any other time you feel triggered to eat are non-hungry spells that you should avoid. Whether you want to eat due to your emotions, when you’re sad or bored or lonely, or due to sensory triggers like mouth-watering smell or the sight of desserts, it’s a false alarm.

2. Concentrating fully on your food and experiencing all the senses involved.

Your plate can hold all your attention and include all your senses if you let it. Notice the different colours, the textures of your food, the different smells, and temperatures. By engaging all your senses, you’re truly appreciating and enjoying your meal and as your body adjusts to each sense, it becomes easier for you to listen to your body’s signals.

3. Eating food that is nutritionally healthy for you, rather than comfort food that eases your feelings.

Be aware of what you eat, starting with what you buy. Each of your ingredients should define a purpose and shouldn’t just be on your plate because you felt like having it. Your body only craves for fast food when you’re not really hungry, but emotionally prompted. When you’re hungry, you will crave food that gives you energy and proteins instead.

4. Taking your time to finish a meal, rather than gulping it down.

Eating is not a task. If you gulp down your food quickly, you tend to finish everything on your table unaware of your body’s cues to stop or eat more. You also tend to not chew properly, making it harder for your body to digest. When you eat slowly, your body tells you exactly when to stop.

5. Delve into portion control.

Start small. You can always opt for a second helping if the first plate is too less for you. But if you fill up your plate with larger portions, your brain tends to make you eat all that’s on your plate, disregarding your body’s signs. With lesser portions, you also tend to waste less food.

What is flexitarianism?

We’re consciously moving towards making our eating habits better and count for the betterment of the world we live in. Vegetarianism and veganism are two lifestyles that ensure lower carbon footprints as well as enhanced health. But it’s hard for some people to completely move to either.

Reducing your meat consumption can aid your health in various ways, yes. But it is also a step towards a more sustainable lifestyle, as more than 15% of human-caused greenhouse gas emissions are contributed by livestock! It affects not only the animal kingdom directly, but also uses up an immense amount of water, electricity and other resources.

How does one incorporate a flexitarian diet?

  1. Opt for plant-based proteins like soy products, legumes, and nuts, rather than depending on meat for such nutrients.
  2. Instead of having ‘cheat meals’ that are all meat, try and add chunks of meat in your mostly vegetarian diet. For instance, a Caesar chicken salad once a week is better than eating a steak meal.
  3. Switch first to white meat and slowly eliminate your consumption of red meat. White meat is healthier and harms the environment lesser during its sourcing process. Quit processed meat completely.
  4. Include more fresh fruits, leaves and vegetables in your diet. They’re tasty, healthy and have the least carbon footprint involved. Also, choose wholegrains rather than their refined counterparts.

The past two years have taught us a lot about ourselves, our bodies and our responsibility to the environment. If you’re looking for smarter and healthier eating lifestyles, you should consider both of these miraculous options— whether you wish to lose weight, gain some, become healthier or do good for the earth. Happy eating!

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