(N) Nutrition. (E) Exercise. (W) Wellness. Our theme for 2015, mindfulness, includes thinking about nutrition, exercise and wellness as a holistic approach to overall health. This month we look at nutrition and mindfulness.

We have written previously about food choices, fad diets and food trends. Mindfulness is not as much about what you eat, but rather how you eat. The mindfulness movement proposes that how you take in nutrients is as important as what they are. Eating a healthy, varied diet is still important, but the idea behind mindfulness eating is to pay attention while we are eating. What does the food taste like? Am I in the moment while I am eating or multi-tasking and distracted? Can I savor the food I am eating or do I feel guilty for what I have chosen to eat? All of this makes up mindful eating.

Good nutrition is nourishing your body in a way that provides for optimal functioning. Your brain, skin, bones, blood and literally every part of you needs certain nutrients to maximize their ability to meet your overall health needs. For example, diets full of processed foods, sugar, and fat are bad for you because they give short bursts of energy, but do not provide adequate long-term nutrition.

Mindful nutrition easily combines the two ideas, encouraging us to think about what we put in our bodies, the method in which we eat (or drink), and how it fits into our overall health and functioning.

Example: Your body needs hydration every day. Your body will tell you that you need to drink something by notifying your brain of thirst. You can quench that thirst by chugging down a diet soda full of caffeine and preservatives, or by chugging a glass of water. If you pause for the mindfulness of what you are drinking, you will give yourself pause to choose the water. You can think through your nutrition choices when you focus on the process. Thirst means your body needs water. Focus on pouring, drinking and swallowing it. Picture the water moving through your digestive track and being absorbed throughout your body. Know that you made a healthy choice. Your PAF social workers can send you mindful eating
information to help keep you motivated and inspired —and remember, forming a new habit takes practice and patience. Be gentle with yourself. If you don’t mindfully eat at one meal, start with the next one. At the end of the day, even noticing that you ate something without thinking about it, is mindfulness in and of itself.

Sources: “The Connection Between Good Nutrition and Good Cognition” by
Alice G. Walton, The Atlantic, Jan 13 2012 http://www.theatlantic.com/