We make between 200-300 food choices every day. Each decision takes energy and headspace. Each behaviour has a consequence. In order to eat for nourishment and to fuel our wellbeing we need to apply some of the key tenants of my ten step mindful eating framework to our decision making process.
It is not always about the right decision or the perfect decision but the best decision possible in that moment within the context of real life.
To help you navigate this tricky process and ultimately nourish your body, your mind and your soul here is some of my best advice to you :
- Create space to tune in to your instincts. Feel, listen and hear what your body is telling you. Stop, close your eyes, take a breath and hold your closed fist over your stomach. Take a moment to tune in to your hunger levels. How hungry do I feel right now ? Is this physical hunger or another type of hunger.
- What external factors are also at play here – fatigue, boredom, procrastination, anger, worry…..
- Bring an awareness to external cues that are prompting you to eat ( if you did not feel hungry ) – is there someone else eating close to you and that is making you want to eat too? Was it an advert that triggered you to want food? Was there a smell or a sound that made you think of food ? Were you triggered by the time of day ?Are you on auto pilot ? Are you using food to self sooth after years of social conditioning has made you believe this might work.
- If you have acknowledged you are truly hungry the next step is to determine what is it that you really want to eat . What food choice will ultimately bring you the greatest level of satiety and nourishment ?
- This is where we employ our knowledge and skills in the area of “simple nutrition”. If possible, our choice should be a slow release, complex carbohydrate, a protein food to keep us feeling full, a good fat (rich in omega 3 ) and fruit and/or vegetables that offer us some hydration, vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidants.
- Remember a sense of joy. Bring a sense of joy to the foods you choose. Mix it up and keep things interesting. Choose foods that satisfy your sensory preferences and always employ an air of discernment ir only choose the foods you love.
Here are some of my top food, drink and snacks to help
fuel your wellbeing throughout the day
- Hydration is key – drink your water during the day. If you struggle with just plain water try some sparkling with a little dash of lime or a cordial or infuse your water with cucumber and mint or lemon and lime.
- Coffee and green tea also offer some caffeine as stimulant which can aid focus and alertness ( always useful to tackle those early mornings or mid afternoon slumps). Green tea is known to have additional anti-oxidants such as L-Theanine which can provide a smoother boost of energy ( it helps to moderate the effects of caffeine somewhat) than coffee. Maybe try a Matcha Latte or even a Green Matcha Frappachino. Remember keep it fun and interesting.
- Bananas, Apples and Oranges are all such basics from childhood but sometimes it is this “simple nutrition” approach that can work best. They are accessible, familiar, come in their own compostable “food wrapper” and each one individually offer a wonderful multi-sensory eating experience.
- Whole fruits are always best and apples are no exception to this rule. Eating local and seasonal apples with the skin on is a joy – crunchy, juicy, sweet and refreshing. And to add to this, they have lots of anti-oxidants and fibre. They also provide a more complex carbohydrate option that just drinking the juice. Oranges are packed with the immune boosting Vitamin C we all need and are great for fighting off fatigue and giving you a little boost of hydration and energy. Stewing apples can be another great way to promote good gut health.
- Bananas offer us a complex carbohydrate source which will help regulate our energy as well as being a great source of potassium and Vitamin B to help boost energy. Upgrade your banana snack with a few teaspoons of nut butter for extra nourishment and satiety. It is reported that bananas that are just slightly green have lots of prebiotics in them which is super for good gut health and don’t forget bananas are a great source of soluble and insoluble fibre.
- Eggs are one of those foods that offer so much ‘bang for their buck’. They are such an affordable, quick and easy form of nourishment. Eggs are full of natural umami so are packed with natural flavour. This means they offer instant satiety as well as being a great source of protein and fat. Eggs are considered a complete protein as they include all the essential amino acids: histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan and valine. Taking just one of these as an example, leucine is super for stimulating energy making eggs an ideal breakfast food or as a mid morning snack. Egg also contain Vitamin B which helps enzymes perform their digestive processes. Eggs are also a good source of Omega 3 and can also be fortified with DHA and EPA. These really do make eggs one of those good mood foods.
- Yogurt is another old school, simple and nourishing food. Choose yogurt from an Irish dairy and with the combination of protein, fat and sweetness this food offers so much satiety. The simple sugars of lactose and galactose offer a quick boost of energy while the higher protein levels in Greek yogurt will help to offer that sense of fullness. For some extra wellness choose a live yogurt or one with probiotics in it. Something like a Kefir would be super. Kefir is like the more powerful, tangier cousin of live yogurt but great for gut health.
- Hummus is one of my all time favourite foods, served at a main meal or as a snack at any time of day. The chickpeas are a plant-based sustainable legume which provide a great source of simple carbohydrates, fibre and Vitamin B. Hummus is brilliant on a wholegrain cracker or with some vegetable sticks. Legumes are another great example of a food that is great for our gut health. Combine it with some edamame or carrot sticks or even a few lentil crackers. Delish.
- Lentils are another super legume to include in a simple approach to fuelling yourself for wellness. They are again a sustainable plant-based source of slow release energy and are packed with minerals like managese, folate and iron. Manganese helps the body form connective tissue, bones, blood clotting factors, and sex hormones. It also plays a role in fat and carbohydrate metabolism, calcium absorption, and blood sugar regulation. Manganese is also necessary for normal brain and nerve function. Creating a simple batch of dhal from lentils is a great way to nourish yourself. Cook a batch of this flavourful, gently spiced, creamy deliciousness that is full of comfort and warmth and then freeze it in small batches. Defrost and re-heat for a quick lunch or snack or as a main course accompaniment.
- Oats and Quinoa are two super grains to include for satiety and nourishment. Quinoa is high in protein, complex carbohydrates and fibre. It is a low GI foods and is also a good source of manganese, magnesium and folate. Oatmeal in the form of porridge, overnight oats, baked oats, flapjacks and cereal bars are another great way to fuel up for wellbeing. They have soluble fibre in them which make them be a sustainable source of energy as well as having Vitamin B, iron and manganese.
- Wholegrains – whoelgrains are complex carbohydrates which help fuel our wellbeing everytime we choose them. They have so many benefits: slower release of energy to stabilise blood sugar levels, they are a god source of Vitamin B and are great for our gut health. Good bacteria in the gut love to feed on fibre wholegrains bring. If these bacteria don’t have fibre to feed on they can begin to eat the mucus layer which is protecting the lining of the intestine. Grab the wholegrain sourdough fast.
- Popcorn can be such an under-rated, quick and convenient snack to give a boost of steady release energy. As long as its not coated in butter and salt you are all good to savour this snack.
Remember choose wisely and for true wellbeing,
nourish your body, your mind and your soul.