While the start of a new year is traditionally known as a time to focus on health and wellness goals, I believe the transition from winter to spring puts us in the perfect position to reset. It’s also a moment to reflect on the role that food is playing in our day and consider if we are making mindful choices with the intention of nourishing ourselves and meeting our daily needs.
Eating with intention means eating with a plan that goes beyond just trying to figure out what to make for dinner. It’s about meeting a goal and intentionally making choices that help you work toward balanced eating and a healthy diet. Intentional eating can be achieved with the following five steps.
1. Plan snacks like meals
You likely put a lot of effort into planning your meals, which hopefully results in a balanced plate. However, if you aren’t putting the same effort into your snacks, then you could be missing out on needed nutrition or possibly eating too much of one food group, while consuming not enough of another. Likewise, if you’re skipping snacks altogether or if they’re imbalanced, you are likely to be left hungry, which brings us to our next tip.
2. Eat when you’re hungry
If hunger comes on quickly, is for something specific like “crunchy” or “salty”, and doesn’t seem to go away even after eating, then it’s likely emotional hunger. This doesn’t need to be responded to with food. Physical hunger, on the other hand, begins in the stomach, grows slowly, and is a general desire for food. Honoring this true hunger with intention means responding with a balanced meal or snack that fits within your day.
3. Keep a food log
One way to ensure you’re eating with intention is to keep an accurate, detailed food log throughout the day. This helpful reflection of your food choices provides the honest feedback you need when trying to meet your daily nutrient needs and is very effective for helping you to respond to physical hunger.
4. Shop smart
It may seem strange to include smart grocery shopping among tips for eating with intention, but it makes a lot of sense when you consider that if your shopping cart isn’t purposefully filled with nutrient dense foods, then your kitchen won’t be. Whether it’s for beverages, snacks, or the building blocks to balanced meals, shopping with Guiding Stars will save you time in the supermarket so that you have more of it available for my next tip.
5. Slow down
Simply slowing down is one of the best ways to eat with intention. This applies to the energy you bring to a meal or snack, as well as the pace in which you consume it. If you are rushing, you are unlikely to be able to recall how much you ate or maybe even what a food really tasted like. Eating with intention means slowing down to savor your food, which increases the likelihood that you’re responding to physical hunger. It also helps you remember what you ate so that you can log it correctly. Think of this last tip as the key to intentional eating.