It’s not just what you eat, but how you eat that’s important when it comes to having a healthy relationship with food. Over the course of many years working as a modeI, I have consciously tried to avoid diets and fast fixes. The goal is to achieve longevity in my career, and the larger, way more important goal is to achieve longevity in my life. My biggest take away? While eating well-balanced, nutritious foods is the best approach, if we don’t give or bodies the opportunity to eat in a way that supports digestion, we aren’t able to reap the benefits of those foods.
Here are a few simple rituals that can help create a more mindful way of eating:
1. Make time for breakfast. Yeah yeah, we’ve all heard it a thousand times…but it’s worth saying again that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. It gets your metabolism going, and gives you the fuel your body and brain need to start your day. Instead of hitting snooze and only having time to grab something on the go, try to set aside 20-30 minutes in your morning to slowly enjoy your breakfast. Lighting a candle on your breakfast table can be a calming way to start your day.
2. Set an intention. Subconsciously, we all have intentions when we eat—usually we eat because we’re hungry. But sometimes, there can also be emotions attached and we eat to fill an emotional void or to control or measure. To avoid unhealthy patterns, try to set a positive intention before each meal to nourish, energize, and thrive.
3. Enjoy your food. Don’t multitask when you eat. Put down your phone, turn off the TV, and step away from your work. In Italy, most people take at least an hour-long lunch, which lets them enjoy the tastes of their meal in a leisurely fashion. This has actual health benefits because when you take the time to chew your food, your saliva creates more enzymes that help your body digest. When you really enjoy your food, it also causes your brain to release feel-good endorphins.
4. Try to share meal time with others. When you share the same meal with a friend, your energy levels increase, decrease and plateau at the same time, which is one of the many reasons why sharing a meal brings people closer together.
5. Listen to your body. Following a very restrictive diet and depriving yourself of foods usually will only make you want them more, and it’s not a realistic, maintainable lifestyle. Instead, take the time to learn what foods agree with you, and give you energy, as opposed to the ones that make you feel lethargic or bloated. Practice moderation and balance.
It’s no secret that these practices take time and effort, and they don’t fit naturally into most people’s busy schedules with demanding jobs. So the best place to start is by bringing awareness to the rituals or habits you currently have, and thinking about where you could make some changes. If you can’t make time for every meal, start by choosing one meal a day that you will give yourself the time to truly enjoy.