By Lauren Nixon
In a culture where moving fast is a prized characteristic and being busy is glorified to the extreme, mealtime often gets the short end of the stick. It’s suddenly en vogue to eat standing up, or in your car, or to not give yourself the time and space to eat anything at all. This doesn’t have to be the case. Plus, you deserve better!
Creating a relaxed, supportive environment for your eating practices can make dining less tense and frantic, more enjoyable and liberating. You deserve the time and physical space to be truly nourished. Why not reclaim this time and space and infuse some more mindfulness into the way that you eat and approach your mealtimes?
Treat Mealtime Like Date Night
Whether you are eating alone or dining with others, create a space that really allows you to enjoy and be present with your food. For one week, challenge yourself to sit down at a table, to remove all electronics from the table, and to make your meal your focal point. Spruce up your table with flowers or meaningful belongings. Chew thoroughly, taste deeply, and allow yourself to experience every sensation that moves through you.
Recognize Your Needs
If your body needs greens once a week, tap into that. If you would really prefer for a partner, friend, or your kids to help with creating nourishing meals, speak that truth. If you need something sweet, recognize that. Don’t push important information away. Use it and savor it to create a rich experience that your body and mind will actually enjoy.
Identify Your Fuel Foods
If you feel really amazing, alive, and vibrant after drinking a gigantic blueberry smoothie, or eating rice and beans, or a bowl of greens with a dribble of hot sauce, go with that. Pay attention to these messages. Alternately, pay attention to the foods that make you feel less than vibrant, that kill your energy and make you feel sluggish, irritable, and unproductive. Consuming fuel foods that you are actually excited to eat provides an uplifting energy around mealtimes.
Tell the Truth
If you’re hungry, you’re hungry. Plain and simple. Being honest about what your body needs allows you the space to get to know your body and its desires and cravings. On the other hand, if you’re not actually hungry but feeling the need to eat, tap into that feeling. Are you bored, anxious, emotional? Explore all the reasons why you are eating, whether they stem from healthy or unhealthy places.
A rushed mealtime situation makes for a rigid, strained meal. Take an hour or so out of your week, preferably after your visit to the market, to prep as many of your purchases as possible. Boil a big batch of rice, boil a few cups of beans or legumes, wash and chop your vegetables and store them in the fridge. That way, you can cut down on meal prep time and cook your meal at your leisure. A gently, leisurely meal makes for a happier, more balanced you.
Lauren Nixon is a Food and Wellness Educator who guides youth and adults in creating healthy, nourishing relationships with local, sustainable food through cooking instruction and educational workshops. She has had the pleasure of working with sustainable food and environmental education organizations including FoodCorps, Urban Nutrition Initiative, Raices Eco Culture Micro Farm, Johnson's Backyard Garden, Hidden Villa, and many more. Follow Lauren on Twitter @LaurenNNixon or at www.laurennixon.com.