How much satisfaction you’re getting out of every bite is a hugely important factor in maintaining a healthy diet.
We know what you’re thinking: “If there’s one piece of diet advice I need, it is not how to enjoy food more.” But March is National Nutrition Month, and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has dubbed this year’s theme “Enjoy the taste of Eating Right.” This message serves a s a friendly reminder to pause and reflect not only on what you eat, but on how much satisfaction you’re getting out of every bite- a hugely important factor in maintaining a healthy diet.
So, to celebrate the month of all things nutritious, a few top dietitians share their tips on how to maximize one of life’s simple pleasures: chowing down. Next time you sit down for a bite- whether it’s a dinner enjoyed out with friends, or a mid-afternoon snack you munch on alone- consider these simple strategies for a more pleasurable dining experience.
From Stephanie Clarke, RD, and Willow Jarosh, RD, co-owners of C&J Nutrition:
- Get comfy with cooking. “Even if you’re a novice, choose a simple recipe, gather up your ingredients, and get into the kitchen! When you get to see, feel, and smell all of the different ingredients during the preparing process, it can make you appreciate the final result so much more. Already a cook? Pick up a food magazine or explore some foodie blogs. These are awesome sources of inspiration for meals and snacks and can be just the remedy to break a food rut. Variety makes food fun!”
- Step away from the screen. “We know: At lunchtime, it can be so tempting to just keep on typing in between bites. But resist that urge and step away from your desk to eat. Putting your focus solely on noshing lets you really dive into your meal, tasting every flavor, and allowing your brain to tune into cues from your stomach that it’s satisfied. And if you feel guilty for losing that time at your desk, don’t- you’ll be more productive when you get back to work after taking a real lunch break.”
- Try some exotic (to you) spices. “We love learning about new herbs and spices and how they’re used. Oftentimes, we’ll pick up a new spice that smells wonderful, but that we’ve never used. A quick search online for recipes with that spice opens up a whole world of new foods.”
- Get a food-ucation. “Educate yourself on the foods you’re consuming. If you learn that beans, for example, are packed with nutrients and soluble fiber-both prove to keep you full and to decrease heart disease- the next time you eat a heaping bowl of chili, you’ll likely take pleasure in the knowledge that your’e contributing to a healthier you.”
- Never come to the table famished. “We’ve all been there: you sit down for a meal at a restaurant so completely light-headed and famished that you don’t even remember eating the entire bread basket. In order to be mindful and enjoy our meals, eating patterns during the day are so important. If you’re meeting friends for dinner at 8 p.m. and you had lunch at 1 p.m., prepare with a snack (an apple and a handful of nuts is a great go-to) in the late afternoon. That way, when you sit down for your meal, you can actually make good decisions, enjoy your food, and focus on the company.
- Don’t shame yourself for indulging. “Many people have foods that they love and crave, but that they feel guilty about while eating or after eating. I like to think of these foods as not “bad” foods, but just as “infrequent” foods. Sure, these foods shouldn’t be a regular part of your daily menu, but they can absolutely be enjoyed. If you are going to go for that treat, thoroughly appreciate the experience, slowly and sensualy, being mindful of every bite.”
How do you healthily enjoy your food? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
By Jess Fromm
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