I’m a practical kind of guy. When it comes to health and fitness, I tend to rely on what makes intuitive sense to me, rather than what the latest study or trend has to offer.
I believe this has served me well. After all, trends change, and ‘findings’ from any given study are often subjective, and sometimes debunked at a later date. Meanwhile, I believe the human mind and body has evolved to serve its best interests quite faithfully (even if we don’t always listen to what it says).
Obvious examples of what might make intuitive sense include:
- Stop eating when you’re full.
- Don’t eat too much rich food.
- Don’t drink caffeine before bedtime.
I’m sure you recognise the validity of these truisms. However, how do you know they’re valid in terms of promoting good health? Simple – you can personally observe the effects of adhering to them (or not):
- If you keep on eating beyond fullness, you’ll eventually feel unwell.
- If you eat too much food, you’ll feel nauseous.
- If you drink too much caffeine before bedtime, the quality of your sleep will suffer.
Understanding the cause and effect of poor eating habits can compel you to avoid taking such actions again. However, I invite you to move a step beyond simply understanding – because the more you appreciate and feel the negative effects of poor eating habits, the more likely you are to avoid them in the future.
This is what I mean by being ‘mindful’ in order to be healthier. In short, to promote better eating habits, I suggest that you make pay more attention to how your body feels – both when you’re eating, and afterwards.
You probably already do this to an extent; you may recognise when you feel bloated, nauseous, and overfull. But I want you to take a step beyond that and try to actually perceive the chemical processes going on in your body. What does being bloated actually feel like? Where is the sensation of your nausea located, and how do you experience it? How would you describe the sensation of being overfull?
The more you focus on how you feel on the inside, the more you’ll become aware of your body’s reactions to what you put in it, and the greater appreciation you’ll have for the impact of your eating choices on your wellbeing. And once you’ve done that, you’re likely to be more mindful of what you eat in the future.
This may all sound a little too ‘spiritual’ for your liking, but as a completely non-spiritual person, I can assure that you that in reality, my focus here is on physical, biological processes. Having a greater appreciation of what’s going on inside of your body is to understand something very real. And best of all, this is something you can do yourself – without anyone else’s advice or opinions – and something that is self-evident.
You can practice and improve being mindful of your body’s reactions to what you eat on a daily basis. The more you choose to focus on the effects of your eating habits, the better choices you are likely to make. After all, what seems more compelling: not eating a cookie because of its calorific impact (an abstract concept at best), or not eating a cookie because of the unpleasant sugar crash you experience after the initial rush?
So, with the above in mind, I invite you to start practicing mindfulness during and after every meal or snack you eat. I’m not going to tell you to commit yourself to a specific regime – that’s not the Healthy Enough way – although you might choose to find a way to consciously remind yourself to do it (e.g. a note on your fridge or a reminder on your phone).
Every time you pause to consider how your body is reacting to what you put in it, you’re improving your ability to make sound eating decisions based on what you know to be good for you. What could be more logical and beneficial than that?