Paleo, keto, vegan, gluten free – some of the most common food types that I get asked about. Ib any setting, when someone finds out that I’m a dietitian, the conversation on the best “diet” for weight loss comes up. Is coconut oil really healthy? What is coconut sugar? What is monk fruit? What about …?
I won’t delve into the pros and cons of these lifestyles because I think it’s a slippery slope summarising an entire food regimen into one blog post. Human beings are complicated, better yet, our digestive system alone is complicated – and it deserves more than a summary note on food.
But one thing I truly believe is helpful to everybody, regardless of what’s on their plate (and what isn’t), is the discipline of mindful eating. Allowing yourself space to enjoy a meal, to notice how it, in the words of Marie Kondo, sparks joy for you. I’ve been watching her show for the past few weeks, and I truly believe that the idea behind things that spark joy transcends just materials, and can be applicable to food and meal times as well.
Does sitting behind your office desk, staring at a screen as you wolf down a turkey sandwich, spark joy for you?
That coke that you just gulped, and probably belched right after, did that spark joy for you?
In fact, the root cause of emotional overeating, is a disconnect between things that really fill us with joy, and instead, a void that is temporarily ameliorated with food. This can also be seen in our children, when we repeatedly tell our kids, “finish your broccoli and then I’ll give you ice cream” or, “if you stop crying, I’ll give you chocolate”. They create an often problematic connection between comfort and sweets – one that our subconscious becomes conditioned to, and matures into potentially – overweight-ness or emotional overeating.
The good news is that conditioning works both ways, and it means that we can re-train our mind to connect joy with healthier habits, like a long walk to clear our mind (or movement of any sort), meditation, hand lettering (a personal favourite), clay making, and the list continues.
You deserve 30 minutes to enjoy a meal that leaves both your mind and body feeling nourished and loved. Instead of a quick bagel, eaten behind your steering wheel. You deserve a meal that leaves you full, but not heavy. Most importantly, you deserve a meal that doesn’t end in guilt, or self loathing, or bingeing.
Much like all meaningful skills, mindful eating requires practice and will take time, but there is no confusion on who benefits from it. Literally, every one.