Food awareness and understanding proper nutrition can be a tool to prevent so many lifestyle diseases. It’s what we like to call “food medicine” and you can freely believe in the power of healthy eating 100%.
The problem today is that so many people are completely unconscious when it comes to what they eat, which means they could easily be consuming too much or not getting enough nutrition to keep their bodies in prime condition. Yes, life can sometimes feel like a blur, but taking the time to be more food-aware, along with a little education, could mean the difference between fit and healthy or sick and sad.
Here are some questions to consider:
- Are you always hungry when you eat or is eating simply a habit?
- Do you use food as a reward or a “fix” if you’ve had a bad day?
- Do you take time to eat your meals or are you always in a rush?
- Are you influenced by cultural norms when deciding what to cook or eat?
- Are you easily influenced by food advertising because they make it look good?
The point of these questions is to help you recognise if your eating habits are being influenced – consciously or subconsciously – by external forces such as your emotions, upbringing or culture, stress, the media and bad habits.
By examining them, you can get to understand how food awareness comes about.
While it might sound too simple, it starts with being more aware of every aspect of yourself that is affected by food. It’s not just physical; it’s deeply rooted in your emotions and identity too. Being aware of this is the first step towards making positive change.
When it comes to knowing the value of food and what we put in our bodies, we also find ourselves coming up short at times. Consider these questions:
- Do you consciously balance your diet?
- Do you read and understand food labels?
- Do you know the difference between “good” fats and “bad” fats?
- Do you eat at least 3-5 portions of veggies a day?
- Are there foods you eat that affect you negatively (for example, make you tired or gassy or give you cramps?
- Do you know how your food has been prepared (for example, is it fresh, frozen or processed)?
- Do you know if the food you eat is organic and hormone-free?
Why these questions are so important comes down to your health and ultimate survival. Without food awareness you could be putting a form of “poison” into your beautiful body and not know it. Not all food is created equal. Not all calories are the same. Not all food labelled as “healthy” are what they profess to be. And, most important of all, no two humans are the same, which means you might not be able to tolerate foods that others can.
So what advice can you take from this? To start, read this great quote from an article on Virtual Health Resort:
“The best diet is the one that is enjoyable to you, allows you to feel good both mentally and physically, leaves you with plenty of energy, is not an ordeal to prepare, and does not harm the planet which we all depend on for our survival.”
To achieve this, you need to remain in a constant state of food awareness. To help you succeed, experts suggest the following:
Keep a food journal
This is important, especially at the beginning of your food awareness journey. Write down exactly what, when, how and why you eat, as well as how you feel during and after the meal. After a couple of weeks, examine this and note your triggers for eating, the bad habits you’re susceptible to, your temptation hours and if there are any foods that make you feel unwell. Awareness is the start!
Learn about nutritional values
As a very general guide, the average person should be consuming between 1500 – 2000 calories a day, and each meal should look similar to the below:
- A handful of lean protein
- A handful of carbs
- Two handfuls of vegetables (and maybe a bit of fruit)
- A thumb full of healthy fat
The key to getting this right, however is understanding the nutrition of the food you consume and knowing what “good” and “bad” looks like. It’s also essential to learn more about food labels so that you don’t fall for any marketing tricks such as “low-fat” foods that are actually just full of artificial sugars.
Listen to your body and understand what works for you
Being aware of how food affects you means that you’ll start making more conscious and healthier food choices. If you start noticing how sluggish and tired you feel after eating white bread, hopefully you’ll think twice and replace it with a wholegrain or rye option, for example. And if you think you need some more professional guidance, see a nutritionist, who can help you identify foods that are specifically good or bad for you.
This article was written by Siyabonga Mngoma and published by Abundance Wholesome Foods.