March is National Nutrition Month – a perfect reminder of the significance of good nutrition and eating well. A well-balanced and healthy diet is especially important during and after cancer treatment.
The first step is to be mindful of what you are eating. One way to achieve this is to take the time to taste, savor and celebrate food and nutrition. This mind-body practice can help you be aware of the experience of eating and how important it is to nourish and care for your body.
Try mindful eating next time you have a snack or meal. Here are a few suggestions to help you get started:
- Be in touch with your emotions and feelings — recognize the sensation of hunger. What does it feel like? Are you having a craving? Are you bored? What other emotions and feelings are you experiencing?
- Be aware of the food on your plate — reflect on how the food was prepared, who prepared it, how it looks and smells. Notice bright colors and fresh smells of fruits and vegetables especially.
- Slowly savor the food — as you take your first bite, notice the taste, temperature, texture and sensation as you slowly chew. Take longer than usual to chew and even notice how you feel when you swallow.
- Take a deep breath and exhale — put your fork or spoon down between bites in order to relax, breathe and reflect on the nutrition of the food you just took in.
Another step toward healthy eating is being aware of serving sizes and exercising portion control. This practice does take effort, but doesn’t require drastic measures. Utilizing visual cues, such as equating a fist-size helping of vegetables as one serving, helps us to better gauge and practice healthy eating habits. For additional tips on matching visual cues to the foods we consume visit the mayoclinic.org website. Please share your experience with mindful eating and/or how you manage healthy portions in your daily life.