There is a whole lot of advice out there about the best and healthiest foods to eat. It can be more than a little overwhelming trying to consume all that information, let alone the food itself. Above all, though, an enjoyable and mindful relationship with your eating practices deserves the same consideration as the actual food you put in your body. When it comes down to it, how you eat is more important than what you eat. So if you've never really paid much attention to this before, now's the time to start thinking about the right eating habits for a happier and healthier you.
Elite Daily spoke with Dr. Amanda Baten, a clinical and nutritional psychologist and founder of The Center for Integrative Practices in NYC.
Developing a sustainable and healthy lifestyle includes the understanding of how food is fuel, and how it affects both the mind and the body. How we eat is just as important as what we eat.
Consider some of the habits you have around meal time, and where there may be room for improvement. It might be time to make them a little more enjoyable, no? After all, food is life, amirite?
1. Make Your Food At Home
Cooking in and of itself can be a really nurturing way to treat yourself, but what's more is that a 2014 study at John Hopkins showed that people who eat at home tend to eat more nutritiously across the board.
Foods that aren't eaten at home are also more likely to be high in preservatives and sodium, which tend to make you feel pretty crummy after the meal is over.
2. Always Have Some Food Prepared To Throw Into Any Meal
If I don't have food prepared -- even just nutritious snacks -- I usually find myself hangry AF and grabbing frantically at the first thing I find in my kitchen.
No need to full-out meal prep here, but there are plenty of ways to plan ahead. Chop up some veggies and store in the fridge for later, make some hard-boiled eggs that'll last you all week, or even a tasty, home-blended hummus.
Trust me, it's so much easier to have the hardest part out of the way so you can sit down and enjoy nutrient-rich foods that leave you feeling fully satiated and energized.
3. Resist The Urge To Watch A Show Or Use Your Phone While You Eat
That's right -- no Instagram, no work, no Netflix, not even a book of poetry. Eating without distraction is probably more important than you realize. Research shows that your taste perception is actually reduced if your mind is distracted while you eat, and as a result, your body needs a greater concentration of saltiness and sweetness to feel satisfied.
Dr. Baten adds,
Mindless eating, or eating while watching television or on the computer, can often result in eating quickly, overeating, and not fully enjoying and appreciating what we eat and where it comes from.
You'll just have to find another time to catch up on your cat videos, guys.
4. Sit Down When You Eat
While the era of to-go eating is alive and well, having a seat while you eat really is better for you than eating while standing (or walking, or driving, or typing, for that matter), since it really helps with eating mindfully.
A Japanese study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics found that adult women who sat down while eating were less likely to overeat, and it is also thought that your body should be relaxed to process your food efficiently.
5. Eat What You Like
The practice of intuitive eating encourages people to follow their cravings and recognize when they are full, and also says that the body essentially knows what it needs if you can learn to listen to it. Some studies find, in fact, that most restrictive diets aren't actually all that effective or good for you.
Even if your goal is to eat more nutrient-rich foods, that doesn't mean you necessarily need to refuse yourself anything, even if you do want to shift your food habits.
Dr. Baten recommends focusing on adding in the good stuff rather than restricting the bad stuff:
If healthier choices are the goals, try adding healthy foods in with what may be hard to give up. If you are planning to have that pizza, add in more vegetables and leafy greens.
6. Eat With The People You Love
Not only is it nice to share food with each other, it's also good for your minds and bodies.
Dr. Baten tells Elite Daily,
I encourage my patients to treat meal times as opportunities to sit with friends and to enjoy the social aspects of eating with others. This practice allows for slower eating, healthier digestion, and an awareness of when you have had enough to eat.
Anyone else feeling hungry?