Eating has a lot to do with the emotions that we’re experiencing at any given time. Eating with underlying depression or frustration can have a great influence on how much and what specifically we are eating. Have you ever felt like having lots and lots of chocolate for instance when you feeling down? Well I have. At that moment in time it really felt like I could just sunk deep under the covers with a handful of chocolates as companion. Or have you ever told someone that you lost your appetite right after a big scare. Another good habit we should teach ourselves is to be mindful when we eat. Think about how you feel when you eat. You could for example take a few minutes before having dinner, reflect on what your day was like and then make a conscious decision on what and how much you going to eat.
“Overeating often happens when your focus is on other thoughts, emotions, or actions as you continue eating. Eating is then mindless. Eating enjoyment happens when you break from conversation and other distractions to eat. Eating is mindful, and the enjoyment of the sight, aroma, texture, sizzle, and taste of food is the focus.” (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/margaret-marshall/you-eat-with-your-eyes-first-)
What I understand from this then is that your behaviour/attitude towards food must adjust before you even think of going on any kind of diet. Using all our senses when it comes to food choices will enhance the enjoyment we experience when we eat. The visual attractiveness of the different colours, the aroma that fills your nostrils, the texture and the taste that you savor is all signals that are send to your brain. Your mind chooses to what extend you enjoy, indulge or reject the food you have on your plate.
So I did a little experiment during lunch time the other day. We have a carefully planned menu at our cafeteria at work and they are very serious about our well-being according to certain standards of course. We have a main meal, a healthier meal as well as a wellness meal to choose from. There is soup, vegetables and salads of which you can choose the healthier option or the other one. Then they also serve dessert, the healthy option and the other one. I seldom eat out at lunch time because I prefer to bring something from home, but just to put this exercise to the test I went down to visually check out what was on offer.
On entering the cafeteria I immediately caught a whiff of cinnamon in the air. I love the smell of cinnamon. That was the sense of smell#1. I went over to the counter and just at that moment the kitchen girl slid a baine marie full of oven grilled bbq chicken under the warm lights. And what a beautiful glow those chicken had on it. That was the sense of sight#2. The healthier meal was Stir-fired chicken, cabbage & peppers served with couscous. It didn’t really draw my attention the way the grilled chicken did so my selection was made based on what I saw. For vegetables they had steamed cinnamon butternut which I smelled earlier and by that time I could taste it just by looking at it. I could see that the mushroom soup had a thick and creamy texture and even though only low fat products were used it looked delicious. For some reason that seemed enough for me so I skipped the salad and dessert and rather had a small guava juice.
Now you see how all my senses had an influence on what I choose to have? Making it obvious that if you spend a little bit more time on preparing your healthy meals in an attractive wholesome way, you could easily trick the mind into having more of the healthy foods your body needs. Definitely a good habit I should do more often.