Eating… We’ve all got to do it, but what really matters is doing it well. In this post, we’re talking conscious eating, why it’s important for our mind, body and soul, and some simple ways we can eat more nourishingly.
So, what is conscious eating?
Definition: ‘conscious’ (adj.) – noticing with a degree of controlled thought or observation; done or acting with critical awareness.
We’ve all been guilty of ‘unconscious eating’ (which, no, isn’t the ability to eat in your sleep). It’s those times when you mindlessly reach for that packet of potato chips, or find yourself tucking into an unhealthy snack before dinner time, or eat the chocolate simply because it’s in front of you. It’s consuming food without considering what it is or why you’re eating it – and it’s more damaging than you think.
“Many of us have become disconnected from the way we eat and the impact that it has on our bodies,” writes Dr Libby Weaver, who has written many books on the topic. In her book The Energy Guide, Dr Libby says “We can be left thinking it’s ‘normal’ to feel exhausted at 3pm, to snack before we’ve eaten our lunch or to constantly feel bloated by the end of the day.”
Dr Libby hints at an attention-deficit approach to eating which is all-too-common, particularly among busy people. And when we don’t consider what we’re putting into our body, it’s hard to notice our bad habits and the things we can improve on – which could explain why it was tough to stick to that fad diet or your latest ‘healthy eating plan’.
Swapping the ‘mindless, unconscious’ approach for a more ‘mindful, conscious’ one can have incredible benefits – not just for your body, but for your mind and energy levels, too!
Conscious Eating - Helping You to Function at Your Best
Conscious eating has roots in a number of different disciplines – Buddhism, Zen and Yoga are a few examples – but it generally boils down to an understanding of how to feed your body to allow it to function at its very best. This doesn’t mean calorie counting or an in-depth knowledge of nutritional biochemistry – it’s as simple as taking note of what you’re putting into your body, and how your body is responding in return.
Not only will this prevent you from over-eating and help you to manage your weight, but you will likely notice some serious mental benefits as well. Conscious eating has been reported to help people enjoy their food more and make mealtime more fun, while also allegedly improving your body’s ability to absorb nutrients. And, by eating things which you know are going to give your body the fuel it needs to function properly, you’re likely to feel a serious boost in your energy and mood levels, too!
So, what are some simple ways we can eat more consciously?
Taking a bit of extra time to prepare – and even produce! – the food you’re eating can help you become more conscious about what you’re eating. Growing your own herbs, fruits and vegetables, or investing in a yoghurt maker ensures that you know exactly what you’re eating and helps keep your meals free from any nasties.
Similarly, investing in cooking appliances that make food preparation quick and easy will give you less reason to reach for those pre-packaged meals. An air-fryer or slow cooker are two great examples of appliances that can help you prepare meals quickly, while a juicer or food dehydrator will allow you to make your own juices and dried fruits rather than having to buy them.
Finally, read up on conscious eating. Dr Libby Weaver’s books are a great place to start, while Lee Holmes’ fasting book ‘Fast Your Way to Wellness’ has loads of information on ways to improve your conscious eating habits.