A growing body of research suggests that a shift in your mealtime rituals could have a positive effect on your health. Mindful eating, which aims to reconnect us more deeply with our food, is based on the idea that there are no right or wrong ways to eat (i.e. stop worrying about following The Diet), but rather different levels of awareness about what you’re putting into your body – and why. And when the benefits include learning to listen to your own hunger and satiety cues, is this something you can afford not to do for your health? Here are five easy ways to help you get started.
- Cook from scratch
In his book The Omnivore’s Dilemma, food activist Michael Pollan explains why: “You’re forced to remember that you’re working with plants and animals. When you handle a cut of meat, you realise this is the muscle of an animal. And it has a purpose apart from feeding me, and you realise I don’t want to waste this.”
Woolworths TASTE food editor Abigail Donnelly says you’ll notice a difference just by committing to cooking from scratch two or three times a week using easy recipes and flavour-packed ingredients. At the beginning of this year she and her family agreed to eat three simple vegetarian dinners three times a week, with favourite base ingredients including brinjal, butter beans and mushrooms. “Grow a few herbs and veg so that you can harvest them yourself. If you don’t know where something comes from, ask yourself: who grew this? How did it get here? You might even find your shopping habits change.”
- Eat at a table
What did you eat last night? How did your food taste? How did you feel afterwards? Some days you can answer these questions. Other days not so much. Start thinking of mealtimes (especially dinner) as something other than obligatory refuelling and rather as a positive ritual and a family tradition – share a few dinners a week at the table and you could inspire a lifetime of healthy eating habits.
- Switch off your devices
Try eating in silence. Sure, you might not be able to do this for a whole meal but do take a few minutes to appreciate what’s on your plate. Not possible because your children can’t sit still? Make a game of it: “Let’s see if we can all eat without talking for one whole minute.” Too busy during the day to eat lunch anywhere other than your desk? Take your morning coffee to a quiet place.
4. Eat slowly
This isn’t easy when you’re eating breakfast standing up. So sit down and slow down. Woolworths dietician Cindy Chin advocates practising counting your chews and swallowing slowly. “Savour every mouthful by putting down your fork between bites instead of loading it with the next mouthful. For children, make it fun by seeing who can chew their food for the longest.” You could even introduce chopsticks as a fun way to slow the pace.
5. Pay attention to flavour, texture and colour
The tanginess of lemon, the spicy aroma of curry, the crunch of a crispy pizza crust… tuning into your senses encourages you to take in less since you’re better able to read your body’s hunger and satiety cues. Ask your children what the avocado tastes like, or how the hummus feels. And share your own observations.
ROAST PEPPER PANZANELLA
This salad is packed with good fats and bright, flavourful ingredients like peppers, tomatoes, anchovies and Parmesan for an umami-loaded plate that’ll leave you full and satisified
Recipe by Abigail Donnelly
Preparation: 20 minutes
Cooking: 20 minutes
3 sweet red peppers, halved
6 oregano sprigs
6 cloves garlic
3 T olive oil
100 g day-old ciabatta, broken into pieces
4 Roma tomatoes, quartered
10 anchovy fillets, roughly chopped
2 T Italian parsley, roughly chopped
4 leaves chicory, roughly chopped
1 x 35 g packet Woolworths Italian hunter-style salami
1 T red wine vinegar
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 T Parmesan, grated
1. Place the peppers on a baking tray, top with a sprig of oregano, 4 smashed garlic cloves and drizzle with 2 T olive oil. Grill until charred and soft. Remove from the oven to cool. Once cool, remove the seeds, roughly chop the peppers and set aside.
2. Heat the remaining olive oil in a pan over a medium heat. Add the ciabatta and fry until golden. Finely chop the remaining garlic and add to the pan. Turn off the heat.
3. Mix the remaining except the Parmesan ingredients in a bowl. Add the roast peppers, toasted ciabatta and garlic oil and sprinkle over the Parmesan.
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