Many people ignore this truth, but a huge part of living a balanced life is considering what and how much we eat. No matter how you spend your day and what job you have, you have to continuously make choices about food and drinks. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks in between. That’s a lot of daily choices. Our brain doesn’t like spending energy on recurring choices that are essentially the same, so our thoughts are often automated, which leads us to making the same (potentially bad) food choices again and again. Just like that, you have formed an undesirable eating habit. So how can we form good eating habits?
1. Remember Why You Are Eating
Firstly, I would like us to remember the fact why we actually eat and drink. We consume food because our body needs it and turns it into energy. Simply put, we need to feed our body to be able to function. Just like our car needs petrol to drive.
Without food and drink, there would be no movement. We would not survive. Taking this thought further, this also means that we are designed to be active, to move. We are active beings. It is not natural for us to eat a huge meal for dinner and then sit on the couch for four hours. We are required to do something with the energy we have gained, not just sit around.
For a lot of people it is normal to feel overly full, incredibly tired or quite unwell after they have eaten. However, the opposite should actually be the case: Food should make us feel energetic, happy, ready to go out and do things. It is our fuel. So next time you sit down to eat, remember that you want to provide your body with energy rather than stomach pains because you have eaten too much.
2. Eat What You Want, But Be Mindful About It
To come to my next point, we should not only consider the amount of what we are eating, but also what we are eating. There are so many different foods and food groups. We should at have at least some basic knowledge about them, don’t you think? I personally do not believe in diets that only allow you to eat certain types of food and completely ban others e.g. no carb diets etc. I believe that in the best case scenario all the food groups are allowed to work together in our bodies.
Rather than having to tell yourself “I am not allowed to eat this”, I think it is better to tell yourself: “I am allowed to eat this, but only if I mix it up with other food and in moderation.” In the end, it is all about balance. There are no “bad foods” as such, and, all things considered, anything you eat in excess can be harmful in a way, because your body will either have too much of something or be significantly lacking something else.
So, yes, have some chocolate, but not while you are watching TV and at the same time also checking Facebook and hardly noticing that you are actually eating. Do this instead: Take a line out of the block of chocolate. Have a look at it. Smell it. Then pause for a minute before you taste eat. Enjoy it and be mindful about eating. Try to do the same with food you may not like as much, e.g. fresh veggies. You may find joy in exploring your food in new ways.
I personally find myself eating less when I am being mindful about the whole eating process. Not only because it takes longer and I start feeling full, but mainly because I actually tell myself that I am grateful for the food I have been given, and that I have everything I need. As with everything, our mindset is key.
3. Write Weekly Shopping Lists
In addition to the right mindset, I believe that weekly shopping lists can help to improve eating habits (and save money at the same time). You choose in advance what you would like to eat and which meals you would like to cook. And then you stick with it. This is the hard part. Going through the shopping aisles seeing all the other things you could also pick up, but you decide not to. You have to stay strong.
To start with, this will not be easy, especially if you have always shopped differently. But after a few weeks, you will get used to it. Remember as well that the heading contains the word “weekly”, not “daily”. This is to avoid you going to the shops everyday, having to resist even more temptation. Shopping for groceries once a week should be enough. Sure, there might be an emergency visit every now and then, but this should only be to get a specific item. Nothing else.
How and where you want to write your shopping lists is up to you. There are plenty of apps that let you write great To Do or Shopping lists. There is also the old-fashioned way of using pen and paper (which I personally prefer). Stores like Typo and Kikki.k sell template notebooks that are easy to use and usually have a magnet at the back to put on your fridge.
4. Record Your Food Intake
My last tip is for people who want to be more mindful about eating and maybe at the same time lose some weight. I have found that recording your food intake can help you improve your eating habits. A great way to start is the app MyFitnessPal. It lets you scan bar-codes and add nutritional facts, so you can get an idea of how much you are eating. Otherwise you can buy food diary journals or create your own.
Simply listing all the food you are consuming usually results in a change of mindset, because you can quickly identify some bad eating habits you may have. It can also show you what you need to eat more of or what you are eating in excess. I am no nutritionist and no specialist, but looking at the food I am eating makes me wonder if this is what my body needs or if I could provide better “fuel” for it.
Again, I believe it is all about balance. Fact is that what we put into our body will immensely affect how we feel and how much energy we have. It is up to us if we are willing to put some work into our eating habits.
If you would like to dive deeper into this topic, I can highly recommend the following article:
Have a great day and stay awesome x