A series about marrying food and mindfulness, by Jolene Hart.
The goal of mindful eating 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. This week, create a mindful meal by training your brain to monotask at mealtime. How many times have you finished a meal before you fully tasted one bite? Or looked down at a pint of ice cream, only to realize that it’s nearly empty and you don’t actually remember eating the last several mouthfuls? Without mindfulness at mealtime, we quickly lose touch with our nutritional needs, and open the door for disconnect between our food and hunger.
Your new mealtime challenge is to focus completely on the dish in front of you. Easy as it sounds to simply direct more attention to your plate, this isn’t second nature for most of us. So give yourself a bit of extra help by swapping your fork for chopsticks. You probably learned how to use a fork so long ago that shoveling bite after bite into your mouth is a task you can complete without an ounce of direct focus, the same way you can munch on a bowl of popcorn while watching a movie, never taking your eyes off the screen. A new utensil, or pair of utensils, gives your brain a reason to focus.
Sit down to a Late Summer Garden Bowl (recipe below), or your own beautifying meal, and pause for a moment to register several deep breaths in and out, turning on your parasympathetic ‘rest and digest’ nervous system and bringing attention, and circulation, to your digestive system. You’ll hold your chopsticks with your pointer, middle finger and thumb, and it won’t be as easy to watch TV, check Instagram, or flip through a magazine without returning your focus to the dish itself.
Why is it so important that your brain registers mealtime? Won’t your stomach tell you when it’s physically full? Yes, but by the time your stomach registers its fullness — around 20 minutes after you start eating — you’re likely to have rushed through more food than you intended if you haven’t been paying attention to the act of eating. Your brain also relies on focus and connection to your food as a signal to direct resources like energy and circulation to your digestive tract, where they will help you digest more fully, with fewer aches and less bloating. Mindful focus makes every meal an all-around more beautifying experience.
Late Summer Garden Bowl
You could harvest this entire veggie bounty straight out of a summer garden — or a local farmer’s market. It’s brimming with colorful antioxidants, hydration and UV-protection benefits for your skin and body.
2 tsp coconut oil
1 onion, diced
1 medium eggplant, chopped into 1-inch pieces
1 organic bell pepper, diced
1 medium zucchini, diced
1 large organic tomato, diced
2 ears fresh corn, kernels removed
1 tbsp coconut aminos
2 tbsp finely shredded fresh basil leaves
Unrefined salt and ground black pepper
Optional: nutritional yeast
In a large pan, melt coconut oil and cook onion until it begins to soften, 4 to 5 minutes. Add eggplant and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until they soften. Add zucchini, tomato and corn and cook 5 minutes more. Stir in coconut aminos, 1 tbsp basil, and salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat and garnish with remaining basil. Serve topped with nutritional yeast if desired.
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.