- National Nutrition Week 2020 (Sunday 11 to Saturday 17 October); a good nutrition is central to health wellbeing
- Eat a balanced diet and eat regularly, and practice ‘mindful eating’ techniques to help enjoy eating without guilt
- Think before you eat, appreciate what you eat, and know when you’ve had enough
During National Nutrition Week 2020 (Sunday 11 to Saturday 17 October) a Charles Sturt University nutrition expert argues the key to making more balanced eating choices could all be in your head.
Lecturer in nutrition and dietetics Dr Marissa Samuelson in the Charles Sturt School of Exercise Science, Sport and Health encourages people to eat a balanced diet that focuses on whole, plant-based foods that are minimally processed, and says ‘mindful eating’ techniques can help people enjoy eating without guilt.
“Mindful eating involves placing as much importance on how you think about eating as the actual food itself,” Dr Samuelson said.
“This includes being in tune with your body and understanding what it needs to feel satisfied and to achieve optimal wellbeing. Part of this is being able to recognise when you are full, appreciating your food, and reducing eating ‘on autopilot’.
“It is important to slow down, be aware of what we are eating and drinking, and listen to our bodies.
“When we are more mindful of what we are eating and drinking, we are more likely to consume what we need and enjoy what we are eating more.”
Inspired by Dr Michelle May, M.D., who is the author of Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat, Dr Samuelson believes there are four tips to help you be a mindful eater:
- Pay attention to your body’s signals and know when you are hungry and when you are full
- Pace your eating before an event so you’re hungry but not famished; the old advice of ‘eat before a party so you’re not tempted’ is unrealistic
- Don’t just eat because you feel obliged to; be polite but firm with ‘food pushers’ who keep offering you food
- Reduce distractions and sit down to eat; this will help you give your food your full attention and avoid eating on autopilot, helping you feel full and satisfied *
A mindful eating approach can help you to:
- Be more aware of when you are hungry and when you are full
- Eat with less distractions
- Make eating a more pleasurable experience **
“By applying mindful eating techniques you can enjoy all that food has to offer without any guilt afterwards,” Dr Samuelson said.
“Think before you eat, appreciate what you eat, and know when you’ve had enough.”
Dr Samuelson also encourages people to focus on diet quality and the big picture of what we eat.
“Research shows that healthy eating patterns such as those that follow a Mediterranean style of eating are best for our health. This means focusing on whole foods that are mostly plant based, reducing our red meat intake, using olive oil for dressings and to cook, and limiting ultra-processed foods,” she said.
“Glucose is fuel for the brain so you should be looking to consume good quality carbohydrates in each meal like porridge, brown rice, wholegrain bread, fruit, veggies, legumes, milk and yoghurt.
“Dehydration will leave you feeling sluggish and tired, so remember to drink lots of water.
“Steer clear of energy drinks and caffeine as they can lead to irritability, difficulty concentrating, poor sleep and anxiety.”For more dietary advice, visit the Australian Dietary Guidelines website.