Eating is a big part of our most joyful experiences. But when we look at food only through the lens of the nutrition it provides, we can easily take joy out of the equation. This National Nutrition Month, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics remind us to take time to truly enjoy our meals with their theme of “Savoring the Flavor of Eating Right.”
Think of your favorite family holiday tradition, your most memorable birthday celebration, or even your ideal first date. I’ll wager they have one thing in common: food.
We’ve compiled some tips to help you do just that—not just during National Nutrition Month, but throughout the year.
Take time to Eat with all Five Senses
Mindful eating can help you, or your clients, slow down the pace of a meal or snack. The process of eating mindfully helps us reconnect with our internal cues of hunger or fullness, so we finish our meal when we’re satisfied (but certainly not “stuffed”).
When was the last time you’ve taken a moment to notice the scent, appearance, texture, or even the sound of your food? After all, any chef, foodie, or RDN will tell you that savoring your food is about much more than just appreciating the taste.
Though they are still relatively new fields, research has shown that mindful and intuitive eating can be helpful complements to traditional portion-control practices. These techniques have also been shown to help improve psychological factors related to nutrition in some populations.
Celebrate your Unique Healthy Eating Style
Your healthy eating style should fit your lifestyle, and not the other way around. For example, if you’re someone who is always on the go, don’t try to force yourself to cook every meal from scratch. Seek out quick options like frozen fruits and veggies, packaged foods with healthy components like protein and whole grains, or light restaurant options to eat right when you’re on the move.
The 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recognize that healthy eating patterns are not “one size fits all.” The trick is to tailor one of the three healthy eating patterns outlined in the DGAs (Healthy U.S.-style, Healthy Mediterranean, and Healthy Vegetarian) to fit your or your client’s, unique schedule and preferences.
Ditch the Diet Mentality
It’s much harder to enjoy your meals if you’re stuck in a cycle of fad diets and food guilt. Develop your healthy eating style with your own calorie and nutrient needs in mind, and stick to it. But you don’t have to do it all on your own. Registered dietitian nutritionists (RDNs) can help you set attainable nutrition goals and build successful strategies for healthy eating and weight loss.
This month, take a moment to celebrate all the factors that help to make eating a joyful experience, and remember to use strategies like mindful eating to help you “Savor the Flavor of Eating Right” all year long.