Eating for mindfulness and beauty… explore with Eat Pretty author Jolene Hart.
Our relationships with food are, separately and at once, many things: passionate, complex, tumultuous, blissful — and evolving, always. My own relationship with food experienced a massive shift when I made the connection between my diet and longstanding skin issues, a journey that ultimately inspired my work as a beauty-focused health coach and my Eat Pretty book series. And, more recently, there’s been another shift in my relationship with food, as I bring mindfulness into every bite I put into my body.
What’s so valuable about mindfulness? Your body, wise as it is, is not only affected by the type of food you eat, but your environment, emotions and mindset. Think of it this way: remember feeling unease in your gut after having a stressful conversation over dinner? Or maybe the way you felt unsatisfied, craving more, after rushing through lunch at your desk? That’s your mind, messing with your physical body. Over the next four weeks, I’m going to share some of my favorite ways to shift your thoughts and actions to create a more mindful and beautifying food experience. The goal is to be present, relish the amazing, delicious, nourishing food you’re eating, and optimize the way your body receives those nutrients with a goal of building your most beautiful self.
Week 1: Slow it Down
This week, let’s slo-mo a single bite to heighten the sensory layers of our food. Because this is meant to be a pleasure-packed experience, let’s make that bite a creamy, frozen banana bon-bon (recipe below).
Grab one of your homemade bon-bons from the freezer and let it thaw for two to three minutes. That means taking a few deep breaths, rather than popping two more of those babies in your mouth while you wait. Now, take a look at that frozen bite sitting in front of you. Really look closely at it, from the smooth frozen shell that started to thaw as soon as it hit the warm air, to the nuts, seeds or coconut that you used as a topping. Pick up the bon-bon, feel its weight, and smell it — what do you sense? Are you dying to eat it already? Is your mouth watering and your mind anticipating? Just wait a little longer.
Close your eyes and bring the bon-bon up to your mouth (funny that your arm knows exactly where to move it, even with your eyes closed), touching its chilly exterior to your lips. Take one small bite and hold it in your mouth for a moment, feeling it soften and melt. What flavors do you taste — sweet banana, creamy nut or seed butter, a hint of cinnamon? Chew that bite, swallow, and feel it slide down your throat to your stomach. What tastes linger in your mouth? How does your body feel? It’s primed and ready to digest this treat because you’ve slowed down and shifted to a mindful eating practice. Go ahead, finish the rest of your bon-bon, and have another — mindfully. While this experience is exaggerated, imagine how you could build your senses more fully into every meal you eat, even the ones that are hectic or on-the-go. Imagine how mindfulness can help you derive even more from the foods you already eat.
Mindful Banana Bon-Bons
These simple frozen bites become decadent treats when coated in salty, skin-nourishing coconut oil and your favorite nut or seed butter (I used sunflower seed butter). Use them to practice a mindful eating moment.
1 large ripe banana, cut into 1/2-inch or 3/4-inch rounds
3 tbsp nut or seed butter (I used sunflower seed butter) [if your nut or seed butter is unsalted, add a generous sprinkling of unrefined salt]
scant 1 tbsp coconut oil, soft or melted [use slightly less if your nut or seed butter is already very oily; more if it’s dry]
optional: raw seeds, chopped nuts, or coconut flakes for decoration
Line a baking sheet with parchment or wax paper and set aside. In a small bowl, stir together nut or seed butter and coconut oil until creamy. Stir in several shakes of ground cinnamon. Drop one banana slice into the nut butter mixture and, using a butter knife, flip it over to coat. Gently scoop the chunk out with the knife and slide it onto the prepared tray. Repeat this step for all of the banana chunks. If desired, sprinkle toppings like raw seeds, chopped raw nuts, or unsweetened coconut flakes onto each bon-bon. Freeze 1 hour until firm, and enjoy straight from the freezer.
Text, images and recipes ©Jolene Hart. All rights reserved.
Jolene Hart, CHC, AADP is a Philadelphia-based health coach and founder of Beauty Is Wellness, a natural beauty and health coaching practice. Her coaching and Eat Pretty book series teaches women to use nutrition and lifestyle choices to look and feel their best from the inside out.