The start of spring brings this wonderful feeling to my heart, my eyes and to my stomach!! But it starts in my eyes!! I often look at this picture I took of my garden tomatoes last summer to remind me that the journey is going to start again all over again soon and what new vegetables will tickle my palate and inspire me with some recipes!
As we head into the warmer weather (I swear it’s coming!), there are so many great things to think about when it comes to the vast opportunity that could surround our weekly grocery list: fresh local foods will be in greater abundance! The larger amounts of nutrients in whole, natural foods – fresh always better, as they have traveled shorter distances, and therefore nutrients are better preserved – is just one great thought to consider. But do we all eat with our eyes? Do you think this way too? Food plays with our emotions, as I have often written about, personally gone through, and now in recognizing that, have learned to view food as the fuel that moves me through my day. Many people are tempted by foods in other ways, and registered dietitians alike often try to recognize whether people are eating with their eyes, their mouth, their heart, or their stomach. I throw nose in, because you and I both know that that initial scent of some foods, can then shift our wanting to eat with our mouth as we begin salivating (think hangry and angry after driving 45 minutes in traffic to get home, and making sure you stop to pick up bananas for tomorrow with that fresh roasted chicken or French fries smacking you in the face when you walk into a grocery store).
True hunger comes from our stomach – which actually only makes up about 5 to 10% of when the majority of people actually eat. Everyone is different, and have their own habits and behaviours when it comes to food, but it is a great exercise for you to stop for a moment before you eat, or find yourself reaching for a cookie or that nut bowl on your countertop as you pass by to throw something into the sink and ask yourself, “Am I actually hungry now? From my stomach?” I learned this about 8 years ago when I was able to teach the Craving Change program with a group of individuals, and it has evolved in so many ways with the education I provide now! As you practice mindful eating, it will eventually lead you down the path of intuitive eating, which is the most incredible thing when you can hear your body saying, ‘you want some crunchy veggies’ or ‘maybe some salt tonight’ or one of my strongest cues ‘You need some iron, it’s energy kick time’!
So, whether you do eat with your heart (emotions), mouth (salivation – often from smelling something), eyes (possibly colour, which could mean nutrients for my body) or stomach (true hunger), it’s an interesting little lesson you could try. Start by asking yourself these questions to see how you may be able to shift your perspective and desire or cravings for foods!
1. Do I chew foods slowly and allow myself to taste the flavours and feel the textures in my mouth?
2. Do I make sure there are more than 3 colours of foods that make up my meals?
3. Do I see a commercial or advertisement on television and automatically want a similar type of food?
4. Do I graze on snacks such as crackers or nuts throughout the day?
This is by no means a comprehensive list, but definitely one to start you on your path of mindful eating to support a food as fuel mentality. Think colour as you head into April! Take a few extra minutes in the produce aisle of your local grocery store, or better yet, venture to the family-run supermarket! There are so many wonderful things happening — embrace them with all of their colours!