Brain Food: Mindful Eating

When was the last time that you sat down to a table with friends or family members to eat a home cooked meal? Studies show that families that eat together have children that are less likely to engage in recreational drug use. People who eat alone are more likely to experience depression. When you eat in restaurants, you are more likely to overeat, because portions are massive and full of fat, salt, and sugar. With our busy lifestyles, how do we achieve optimal wellness though mindful eating habits?

Tomatoes are rich in leutein for eye health. Photo Credit: Fluffy Pop Postcards

1. Be prepared!

- Write a list of healthy foods that you enjoy eating, pick 5 things, and buy the ingredients to make those things at home for the week. Think about cross pollinating meals. If you make a stir fry, cut extra veggies for salads and smoothies.

- On the go? Make sure that you have containers that you can carry with you to the office or school.

2. Healthy Snacks!

- Ideally, you would eat 3 meals, with up to 2 snacks per day. This will help you stay energetic and avoid overeating.

- A healthy snack should contain protein and complex carbohydrates. This will help you to maintain an energetic disposition, thus avoiding the dreaded mid-day slump. Suggestions include yogurt, whole grain toast with nut butter, power bites, or fresh fruit/nuts (dried fruit is high in sugar).

Visit The Big Bean Theory in Mt. Vernon Marketplace

3. Visit the local farmer's market!

- The food is fresher, which means that it is vibrant with flavor and packed with nutrients.

- Shopping local means that we are supporting regional economy.

- It is good for the environment. Food is passing through less hands. When food comes from a land far away, resources are used to get that apple to your table. Buying from your local farmer means that your food traveled only a few miles to get into your basket.

- Healing in CommUnity. When I go to the farmers market on Sunday afternoons, on my way to teach yoga at The Living Well, I see familiar faces. We smile and greet one another, catch up on whats going on, and dote on energetic children. I also get to know who is growing my food. Farmer Tom of Albright Farms and his son's make sure that they use as little pesticides as possible. I know this, because of seeing him at the farmer's market and in the community. When we connect with one another, there is a physiological response in our bodies. According to the manuscript: "Social Relationships and Health: A Flashpoint for Health Policy," social interactions have a direct impact on our health. "Many types of

I enjoy taking my son to the farmer's market and having me help pick out the foods that we are going to eat for the week. Photo Credit: Fluffy Pop Postcards

scientific evidence show that involvement in social relationships benefits health. The most striking evidence comes from prospective studies of mortality across industrialized nations. These studies consistently show that individuals with the lowest level of involvement in social relationships are more likely to die than those with greater involvement (House, Landis, and Umberson 1988). For example, Berkman and Syme (1979) showed that the risk of death among men and women with the fewest social ties was more than twice as high as the risk for adults with the most social ties. Moreover, this finding held even when socioeconomic status, health behaviors, and other variables that might influence mortality, were taken into account. Social ties also reduce mortality risk among adults with documented medical conditions. For instance, Brummett and colleagues (2001) found that, among adults with coronary artery disease, the socially isolated had a risk of subsequent cardiac death 2.4 times greater than their more socially connected peers. "

4. Portion Control!

- The yogic lifestyle suggests that we have 1/2 belly full of food, 1/4 liquid, and 1/4 air.

- Find out how how many calories you should be eating to maintain your weight at They also help you to figure out what portions of each food group that you need.

- Eat slowly. It takes your brain up to 20-minutes to realize that the body is satisfied. Yes, I know that sometimes that dish that grandma made is just too good! I believe in you! You've got this!!!

5. Social Eating! Road Rules!!!

- When it comes to eating out at restaurants, I could write a book. I love going to a really great place, with awesome people, sharing laughs, and delicious cuisine. Not to mention the fact that someone else has to do the dishes. As we said earlier, sharing a meal with friends and family is essential to our health and wellness.

- Choose wisely. When deciding where to eat, check the menu out beforehand to make sure that there are options that support your diet. Whether you are an omnivore, vegan, or pescatarian, there are so many places that support a healthy lifestyle.

Eating lunch at The Green Cat at Virginia Beach

Lunch at The Green Cat in Virginia Beach

- Do not be afraid to speak up! Peer pressure is a b*tch. Do not let someone who is not on the same page as you talk you into eating something that you know that you are going to regret later. At the same time, enjoy yourself, in moderation. If you are getting dessert, refrain from ordering a drink or eating bread. This will also save $$$.

Everything is Connected:

When it comes to achieving optimal wellness, the butterfly effect is a major player. A decision that we make about what we put into our bodies has an effect us personally, socially, and globally. If we eat healthy food, we have the energy that we need to accomplish daily tasks. When we eat with loved ones, it impacts our mental health and well being. Shopping within our communities keeps the local economy vibrant and strong. We prevent food deserts, joblessness, and blight. Food is at the epicenter of cultures around the world. It is how we express love for one another, celebrate milestones, and nourish our souls. Be mindful when choosing what you eat. It not only impacts YOU, it impacts the world as a whole.

*Photo Credits: Fluffy Pop Postcards and Divayogi

Visit The Big Bean Theory at The Mt. Vernon Marketplace. 520 Park Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21202

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