Mindful eating is a concept that’s usually associated with your relationship with your food. In other words, how will your food consumption impact your mind and emotions?
While this is an important way to approach how you fuel your body, it’s just as critical to consider other aspects of your mindfulness of food as well. Of particular interest here, is how your food choices impact both your physical health and that of the planet.
With that in mind, here are a few questions to ask yourself in order to become more mindful when you’re around food.
Have You Considered Where Your Food Comes From?
How your food is sourced, processed, and shipped is a big deal. The healthiest food in the world can have a dark side if it’s been provided to you via an unsavory production process.
Understanding where your food is sourced from can be an overwhelming activity. If you’re intimidated by the sheer quantity of research involved, that’s okay. Remember, we’re talking about baby steps here.
Start by understanding the benefits that come from learning about where your food comes from. For instance, this kind of knowledge enables you to identify what products are the best for your body. It can also help you support local industries, prevent animal cruelty, and even reduce your carbon footprint.
As you grow comfortable with the general idea of learning about food sourcing, you can gradually become more nuanced with your research. For example, the concept of “food miles” — how far your food has to be transported to get to your kitchen table — is commonly touted as a critical factor in lowering your carbon footprint. And make no mistake, it is certainly an important consideration.
However, the trendy focus on food miles tends to over prioritize its value. For example, a growing body of evidence has shown that eating local meat that is low in food miles is still more detrimental to the environment than eating veggies that were grown half a world away. Why? Because the carbon footprint involved in growing and processing animals is far larger than that of plant-based products.
All that to say, learning about where your food comes from is an important initial step in cultivating mindfulness around food.
Is Your Food Truly Nourishing You?
One of the simplest steps to take in developing greater food mindfulness is considering if your food is actually nourishing you. This doesn’t just mean cutting fast food out of your diet, either. A typical well-balanced diet should include:
- Fresh fruits and veggies
- Lean proteins
Obviously, each diet will vary. However, the goal shouldn’t be to analyze every nitty-gritty detail of your food options. If you want to be more mindful, all you have to do is start by asking yourself if each food item you ingest is actually helping you maintain a balanced diet.
Are You Creating Excessive Packaging Waste?
The initial emphasis of mindful eating tends to revolve around the food itself. However, as you get more and more comfortable with thinking through your food choices, it’s important to think even bigger.
One important tangential question to remember is how your food is packaged. For instance, you’re likely aware of the fact that drinking water is a very important part of a healthy diet. Proper hydration can help you avoid things like fatigue, dizziness, and headaches.
However, if you stay hydrated by drinking a half dozen containers of bottled water each day, you’re creating an entirely new problem in the form of pollution while you’re addressing your hydration concerns. The same can be said for many other prepackaged food and beverage products.
If you find that you’re creating excessive packaging waste through your food consumption, look for alternative options. Get a good water bottle. Buy a snack in bulk and then get a reusable container to house individual portions. This kind of behavior can go a long way in reducing your food’s overall impact on the environment.
When You Eat Is It A Positive, Fulfilling Experience?
When you sit down for a meal, do you callously eat without a second thought, or do you slow down and enjoy the food itself? In a 2011 study, it was discovered that eating mindfully can help you:
- Recognize when you’ve satisfied your hunger.
- Combat depression.
- Develop a greater sense of self-control.
- Reduce binge-eating tendencies.
All of these effects can have a huge impact on your body’s physical health. By not overeating you can control things like weight gain and acid reflux. Reducing depression tendencies can also help you with things like getting better sleep and exercise. Binge eating is always bad, not just because you end up stuffed, but because you also have a very poorly balanced diet.
If you have a positive relationship with your food-eating experiences, it doesn’t just help your mind. It can have a direct impact on your physical body as well.
Small Steps That Add Up To A Big Difference
The food choices that you make matter. They impact your body, mind, spirit, and soul. They also affect the world that surrounds you.
Fortunately, it’s easy to take small-yet-significant steps to begin making a positive difference. Commit to asking yourself the little questions, and before you know it, your mindfulness of food will be taking a front seat each time you feel a hankering for something to nibble on.