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Mindful Eating: How We Eat Is As Important As What We Eat Print

Why Family Meals, Sharing Food Skills And Eating Mindfully Are Here To Stay

mother, father and two young children wearing white shirts and blue shirts preparing a healthy salad together

I grew up in a family of five where we were all expected to be home for dinner at 6pm to eat together. When I think back – I don’t remember ever begrudging this even as a moody teenager. It’s probably because it was just “normal” and an expected part of the day. 

Supper was likely the only time of the day where all of us got together and actually communicated amongst busy schedules, sports, and school or work commitments. I reflect back now and realize how lucky I was to have parents (especially a mom) who fought to make sure we ate together as a family. 

Along with eating together I grew up learning valuable lessons about mindful eating at the kitchen table (instead of mindless eating on the go in a car or in front of a screen). I was taught food skills, how to shop, prepare and cook homemade food that taste delicious. Thank you, Mom!

March is Nutrition Month and this year, both myself and Canadian Dietitians from across the country are talking about how healthy eating is about so much More than Food! Dietitians are encouraging Canadians to consider not only what they eat, but how they eat too. 

This Nutrition Month and beyond, consider healthy eating habits that include the importance of eating meals together, cooking more often and transferring these key food skills to your family. Also consider mindful eating to improve meal satisfaction and your overall health.

nutrition month more than food 2020 graphic

The Surprising Research on Family Meals

 

In a 2006 Time magazine article, The Magic of the Family Meal, by Nancy Gibbs, I read a quote I will never forget. Anthropologist Robin Fox said, “We have reduced eating to sitting alone and shovelling it in. There is no ceremony in it.”

 

Most people eat better when they eat together. Research shows sitting down for a family meal is not only good for your nutrition but is one way to protect your kids from obesity, eating disorders, drug and alcohol abuse and more. It can also improve academic performance and generally improve family connection

Make it your goal to eat ONE meal every day together as a family. Try supper or even breakfast. If this sounds overwhelming start with Sunday dinner or Saturday brunch and build from there.

stack of five waffles with strawberries, blueberries and whipped cream

If you live alone and feel like cooking for one is a chore, be sure to co-ordinate some social meals.  You don’t have to shop, prepare and eat alone.

At work, be a leader and encourage people to leave their desks and join you for lunch. Organizations that eat breakfast or lunch together regularly have been shown to improve team cohesion and productivity since they return to work less distracted, having had time to socialize.

 

Teach Your Family Critical Food Skills They Need For Life

 

Children learn what they live. One of the most important yet often undermined skills we can teach our kids is to help them understand how to shop, prepare and cook healthy meals. 

As our schedules get busier and more meals are consumed outside of the home in restaurants and fast food, younger generations are not developing the same level of knowledge in food and culinary skill.

Have a picky eater? Taking part in food related tasks can help children try new foods.  It can also encourage your kids and adolescents to build self-confidence, self-efficacy and provide a strong sense of accomplishment.

Register for cooking lessons, watch videos on how to make healthy recipes. Involve your kids in grocery shopping, meal prep and cooking together. Kids don’t need nutrition knowledge, what they really need first is a good relationship with food and culinary skill. 

 

Move From Mindless to Mindful Eating

mother, father and two young children wearing white shirts and blue shirts preparing a healthy salad together

 

There are many reasons we eat that have nothing to do with necessity. We eat in response to environmental triggers such as seeing something that looked or smelled good or because of learned behaviour such as being told to always finish our plate as a child. We also eat in response to emotional triggers such as stress, loneliness or boredom. 

Using mindfulness to help check in on what, when, how much and why you eat can allow you to become more skillful at bringing your full attention into your body to nourish all types of hunger (physical necessity, emotional hunger and cravings related to the senses).  

For more information on mindful eating check out this previous article I wrote on our blog here: Mindful Eating for Health and Meal Satisfaction


The Art of Eating Mindfully

 

The word diet in Latin means “a way of life,” yet for most North Americans the word has connotations that include deprivation, guilt and hard work. If you are like many North American families, you may work long hours and have a hectic evening schedule of hobbies or sports. With the invention of the microwave, convenience foods and fast food, marketers are working hard to convince you that time to cook is time wasted.

You are kidding yourself if you think that a pre-packaged frozen entree or meal replacement bar has the same level of enjoyment (and nutrition) as a home-cooked meal.

There is a difference in satisfaction with food if you cook it yourself and see it, smell it, feel it and slowly taste it.  The experience is totally different than ripping open a package and devouring it in seconds. When you rush through the experience and fail to use all your senses, you are more likely to feel dissatisfied or overeat.

Which one of the above points resonates with you the most? Let me know in the comments below.

 

Need more support with family meal planning and mindful eating?

 

As Registered Dietitians that specialize in meal planning, weight concerns, emotional eating, eating disorders, digestive health, heart health, diabetes, pediatric nutrition and sports nutrition we can see you in our local Calgary nutritionist office or as an Online Dietitian by phone or video conferencing for virtual nutrition counseling. Find out more about our Dietitian Nutrition Counseling Programs here.

As university trained Registered Dietitians, you can count on us for credible advice and practical meal planning so you don’t have to stress about food anymore. You can achieve a healthy and joyous relationship with food and your body. Let’s talk about what this can look like for you. CONTACT US.

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Success stories

"I am a psychologist in private practice and it is very important to me that my clients have the best care with other health care professionals. For that reason Health Stand Nutrition is my only source for exceptional Dietitians. Andrea and her team provide highly knowledgeable, compassionate, and real world support to my clients who require assistance with food lifestyle. I trust my clients to them and you would be in excellent hands making them part of your health care team."
Adele Fox, Psychologist
“This is the first time I feel satisfied; my cravings have diminished dramatically and I have a whole new relationship with food. I am eating guilt-free for the first time in my life. My energy has also dramatically increased and I feel great!
Rhonda Jenkins, Nutrition Counseling Client
“The Dieticians at Health Stand Nutrition help you to take action on the science behind eating well by making it practical, understandable, and fun. Their office is cozy and not at all clinical or intimidating. I felt like I was sitting down with a really smart, caring friend who wanted to help me make the best choices for my lifestyle and food preferences. They really are the best in the business.”
Marty Avery, Nutrition Counseling Client
“I have come to think of the program as a one stop shopping excursion for everything one needs to know about creating a joyous relationship with food and our bodies. In a single word, the course has gifted me with freedom from the punishing rigidity of disordered eating, old stories that never were true, and body dysmorphia that did nothing but make me lose sight of a body that has done everything I've asked, despite my careless dismissal of her needs. Now when I look in the mirror I find myself shifting from harsh criticism to gentle gratitude.”
Lynn Haley, Pursuit of Healthiness Online Course Participant
“I spent 3 hours when first diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. I learned more from my Dietitian about food in those 3 hours than I had learned in all the years of my life. I also love the newsletter, there is always something to learn.”
Peter Whitehead, Nutrition Counseling Client
“I didn’t realize how strong my “diet mentality” was, and all the rules I had in my head about food. I was in a cycle of reward/punish/binge/cringe. I booked with your business very reluctantly, on the repeated advice of my doctor, to get my slowly rising cholesterol levels in check. I thought I knew everything about food, and my behaviour with food, but I was definitely re-schooled. My weight is creeping down, I feel good about my diet, exercise, body image, and lifestyle.”
Amy Floyd, Nutrition Counseling Client
“Thanks Andrea for an amazing presentation, I have heard all positive remarks from attendees and the evaluations show the same sentiment. It is really gratifying when a speaker does their “homework” and weaves in our profession’s day to day challenges within their content, you did an awesome job of this! You truly took the “die” out of Dietician! Your information on healthy eating and simplifying how we can work towards this as we are all so busy really hit the mark. Andrea connects very well with her audience; she is energetic, funny, and very approachable.”
Carole Ann LaGrange, Transfusion Medicine Safety Officer

Event Planner for Laboratory Diagnostic Imaging Annual Event

I am a family physician who sees patients with a myriad of eating concerns – from wanting to know how to plan healthy meals for active families, to weight loss, to eating disorders, and so on. I cannot recommend the Health Stand team highly enough. I have worked with (and been to!) other Dieticians in the past and too often find that they just ask for food logs and make suggestions that are easily obtained online or in books. The Dieticians at Health Stand offer much more than just telling clients what they “should be eating.” In contrast, the team really does more of a counselling practice, and they work hard to help their clients learn more about why their eating habits may be off track and not optimal for them, as well as helping people to effect change at a deep level that, most importantly, is sustainable for lifetime health.”
Dr. Deb Putnam, Family Physician

Nutrition Counseling Client & Referring Physician

“I am a busy mom, with kids in high level sports, working full-time downtown, and running our home acreage outside the City. I now have the knowledge and tools I need to plan for and manage the chaos of meal planning.”
Gillian Gray, Pursuit of Healthiness Online Course Participant
“As a construction company, we select speakers who can relate to our industry and its employees. Andrea’s message was delivered with humor and empathy. She makes people feel as though they can make changes without leaving behind every favorite food. Andrea focused her presentation on healthy eating as a way to keep energy high throughout the day. This message and the way it was delivered resonated with our predominantly male, blue collar culture. I would highly recommend Andrea as a speaker for groups such as ours. She will get your message across without alienating anyone in your audience – which is a huge hurdle when trying to introduce a wellness program in the workplace!”
Stephanie Wood, HR and Safety Manager

Fisher Construction Group, Burlington, WA

I found my Dietitian warm, funny, and skilled at teaching nutrition concepts without the overwhelm. The general approach of each session was to mix science with emotion, which was exceedingly effective in helping me shift my perspective on food from one of anxiety to one of joy and curiosity.”
Erin Kronstedt, Nutrition Counseling Client
“Excellent presentation! What a refreshing change to have a speaker inspire rather than “lecture” about nutrition. Your captivating stories, tips and overall approach to healthy eating uplifts and puts people at ease. It was great to hear we don’t need to strive to be perfect eaters, and that small changes really can make a difference in how we feel and in our health. Thanks to Andrea, we have solutions to our everyday nutrition challenges that can actually work in real life!”
Tina Tamagi, Human Resources

ARC Resources Ltd.

“Had I not joined this course I would have struggled with no focus, low energy, and mindless eating. Excellent teaching and motivation. This is not just a course, it is a nutrition club with mentorship, support, and connections with other people with similar situations.”
Lorri Lawrence, Pursuit of Healthiness online course participant

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