March is National Nutrition Month, a nutrition education and awareness campaign sponsored by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. The campaign brings attention to the importance of making informed food choices and developing sound eating and physical activity habits. These principles should be followed not only in March, but as a way of life all year long.
This year’s theme, “Savor the Flavor of Eating Right,” encourages the public to slow down and take time to enjoy the pleasure of food, food traditions and the social experiences food brings to our lives. How, when, why and where we eat are just as important as what we eat. Develop a mindful eating pattern that includes nutritious and flavorful foods—that is the best way to savor the flavor.
Here are a few simple tips everyone can use to start incorporating mindful eating into their daily routines:
In today’s busy world, most people eat while multitasking, in their cars or while working at their desks. Eating meals at the table, however, allows you to be present and focus on the food you are about to taste. Be present in the moment and enjoy your food rather than wolfing it down. Reduce (or eliminate) distractions, so turn off the TV, and ignore the beeps and chimes of your cell phone and social media accounts. This is your time to enjoy and savor something for you. Being present also means thinking about what you are eating, and how it feels in your mouth and on your tongue. Is the texture smooth or crunchy? Is it bitter or sweet? Think about what tastes and textures you enjoy eating.
Eating more slowly and chewing food well allows us to be mindful of what we are doing and when we’ve actually had enough to eat. It takes approximately 20 minutes for the brain to receive satiety signals from the stomach. These signals tell our brains that we are feeling full and should begin to slow down and stop eating.
Eat your meals and snacks at the same time every day. This doesn’t mean you need to stick to a timetable but rather, try to eat relatively around the same time every day. Consistency helps avoid being overly hungry, splurging on whatever you see and overeating. Waiting to eat until you feel ravenous promotes overeating and poor food choices. Instead, plan ahead and try to eat around the same time every day for meals and snacks.
Try New Things
Experimenting with herbs and spices is an easy simple way to savor the flavor and expose yourself to new flavors. This month, try a new recipe with ingredients less familiar to you or from a different culture.
So in a world filled with busy days, connected devices and doing things faster and faster, let March National Nutrition Month be a fresh reminder to stay present, slow down, be consistent and savor the flavor. Your stomach (and body) will thank you.
Marissa Licata is a registered dietitian at Northwell Health’s Katz Institute for Women’s Health. Call 516-881-7060 for more information about nutrition services.