Food For Thought: Adopting Sustainable & Conscious Eating Habits

Food For Thought: Adopting Sustainable & Conscious Eating Habits

Maria ThomasNov 14, '22

Food For Thought: Adopting Sustainable & Conscious Eating Habits

The word sustainable has been used and overused, and understood and misunderstood so many times, that one really wonders what it means, and if it’s just a fad that seems to have taken the world by storm. When you think of sustainability, you think of longevity, of things that exist sustainably rather than one-time throwaways. In simple words, it is the making and production of food, fiber, plant or animal products, or any other natural-based resources that won’t come back to harm the environment and the earth’s inhabitants. 

Sustainability as an ideal is not something that should be pertinent only in aspects of food and eating, but also in what you wear, in the way you think, and in all of your actions. The idea behind adopting sustainable eating habits comes from the rising need to protect not just our bodies, but the environment, the health of people and communities around us, including the welfare of plants and animals

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What is conscious eating? 

It isn’t only what we wear that defines standards of beauty, but it is also what we allow to go into our bodies. Conscious eating by definition is far-reaching and penetrates into many areas of our overall bodily ecosystem. Also known as mindful eating, conscious eating is a much-needed and interesting approach to food by focusing on people’s senses and awareness of the food they’re eating and captures the experience of eating rather than just the act of food going into the stomach. It has little to do with calories, carbohydrates, fat or protein, and more to do with the little things like paying attention to our food; and doing it on purpose & intentionally, moment by moment, without any judgment whatsoever.

Why do we need to eat consciously and mindfully? 

By adopting mindful eating patterns, you’re helping your body gain better control over its functions. Mindful eating is based on the practice of mindfulness, adopted from ancient Buddhist teachings. Through this form of meditation, it allows you to recognize and deal with your emotional upheavals and physical sensations in a more systematic manner by focusing on better and more sustainable eating habits

 

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Mindful eating is not only good for your physical, emotional and mental health, but it is also used as a technique to treat several eating disorders and illnesses like bulimia, anorexia, depression, anxiety and other food & mind-related health disorders. By adopting mindful practices and opting sustainable eating habits as a lifestyle choice, you can arrive at a state where you’re in complete awareness of your experiences, surroundings, cravings, and physical cues akin to eating

 

How can we eat consciously and mindfully? 

The term “mindfulness” was defined by Jon Kabat-Zinn as “paying attention in a particular way, on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally” (1). Kabat-Zinn was the original developer and leader of the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. (source)

 

The purpose of mindful eating was never about weight-loss or weight-gain, but rather to help people savour every moment of eating by leveraging the entire presence of the person eating, in order for them to have a fuller and lasting experience with food

 

There are simple ways to incorporate mindful eating habits into your daily regimen. By following these simple practices, you may not only lose weight but will end up making you feel happier and content. There’s an overall sense of purpose that comes with eating in complete awareness, intentionally and purposefully. 

 

Here’s how you can adopt mindful eating habits - 

Healthy Food CollectionStep #1 - Eat slowly and with presence of mind 

Oftentimes we sit before our food with a lot on our mind and a lot on our plate. During times like these, it’s easy to get carried away and eat haphazardly and unconsciously. Remember that your food isn’t going to disappear anywhere, and eat with a complete presence of mind and senses. 

 

Step #2 - Pay attention to the cues your body gives you 

If your body rejects certain smells, sounds, or colours, pay attention to it. There are reasons why our body does not feel a particular type of food on a given day, so it is important to understand that and not force certain foods on our system. Not just that, it’s important to listen to that soft voice of reason rather than get carried away by childish impulses that can later harm your body. 

 

Step #3 - Understand the difference between real hunger and mood-based hunger triggers 

A lot of us have the habit of eating or overeating when we’re stressed out, or sometimes over the moon with happiness. Sometimes genuine hunger can be masquerading as a craving, and other times a craving masquerades as real hunger. It is important to find the difference between these two to find the right balance of eating. Eat when you’re hungry, and avoid binge eating patterns especially when you’re bored, sad, or feeling moody. 

Step #4 - Pay attention to your surroundings, colours, smells, sounds, textures & flavours that your senses trigger

Have you ever been to a new place right after having had a sumptuous meal, only to be enticed by the smells, sounds, textures, flavours and the whole range of feelings your senses trigger? That happens to most of us. It is important to understand why you eat and what food does to your body. Pay attention to the way different foods react in your body, and you will find that your body speaks more than you ever knew. 

 

Step #5 - Understand the reasons for food anxiety, and discover ways to cope with it

As mentioned above, stress-eating is a commonplace habit, one that we’re all much too familiar with. However, what we don’t realise in such moments of stress, is the quantity of the food we eat, the type of food we eat, and the harm that such momentary lapses of judgment could have on our bodies. If you understand why your body is craving food and when it is craving food and what it craves - be it due to stress, hunger, or feelings of euphoria - that knowledge could go a long way in leading a happier and contented life. 

 

Step #6 -  Love and appreciate the food that is before you 

This is the last, but one of the most important steps to eating sustainably and consciously. At the end of the day, the food that goes into our tummies is holy and sacred, and the labour of people’s hard work. It is very important to be grateful for the food that is laid before you and remember the thousands of impoverished people that do not have access to food or drinking water. By having a sense of gratitude, we learn to automatically appreciate the food that is before us and think twice before wasting a single morsel.

 

By making healthier choices for you and your entire family every day through little deeds of awareness can allow you to replace automatic thoughts and reactions with more conscious, and healthier responses, and ultimately lead you to a more contented and fulfilled life.  




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