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The 8 Most Mindful Foods

AMY GARDNER / January 18, 2016

The 8 Most Mindful Foods

Eating mindfully allows us to enjoy ANY and ALL foods while maintaining a healthy size and realizing a stress-free relationship with food.  You’re thinking “sign me up!” right?  Me too!  What is mindful eating exactly?  While we often think of mindful eating as simply eating without distraction, it’s a little more involved.   Michelle May shares her in-depth work on mindful eating on her website, which is where you will find this well-thought out definition.

Mindful eating is eating with intention and attention:

•Eating with the intention of caring for yourself
•Eating with the attention necessary for noticing and enjoying your food and its effects on your body
•Awareness of your physical and emotional cues
•Recognition of your non-hunger triggers for eating
•Learning to meet your other needs in more effective ways than eating
•Choosing food for both enjoyment and nourishment
•Eating for optimal satisfaction and satiety
•Using the fuel you’ve consumed to live the vibrant life you crave

While in theory, mindful eating is simple, our fast-paced world makes eating with intention and attention next to impossible.  It takes time and training to shift your eating patterns.  So, as you’re shifting, we can help provide you with some tools.  One is this list of  mindful foods; foods that require more attention and intention to eat naturally.  Perhaps you can come up with a few more.  Consider using these foods as you practice eating more mindfully.

1.  Pomegranates
A whole pomegranate may be THE most mindful food I can think of.  Pomegranates demand one’s full attention and eating them is somewhat of an art form.  How do you do you open a pomegranate?   I love hearing different ways people find to separate the arils and seeds from the membrane.  If you’re curious, here’s one popular method courtesy of Martha Stewart.   Next time you’re peeling, cutting or soaking your pomegranate, think about where it came from and its meaning.  In Buddhism, pomegranates are among the three blessed fruits and specifically represent the patron goddess of children.  In ancient Greece, the pomegranate is a fertility symbol, strongly associated with Aphrodite, the goddess of love and Dionysus the goddess of wine, pleasure and merriment.  In ancient Rome and in Judaism, the pomegranate has been a symbol of fertility both of the body and of the mind (wisdom).  Not to mention pomegranates are one of the most antioxidant-rich fruits, great for your immunity.  Ponder this as you open and attend to your sweet, juicy fruit.

2.  Pistachios
Pistachios and other shelled nuts require a little (or a lot of) work.  It’s nearly impossible to multi-task while shelling a pistachio.  Each nut must be de-shelled and placed deliberately into the mouth, slowing down the process of eating and thus lending to mindfulness.  Think about how different this is from reaching into a bowl of mixed nuts while chatting at a cocktail party.  Next time you open a pistachio, look at it and think about where it came from.  Pistachios grow on small trees originating in Central Asia and the Middle East.  Although most of those we eat now in the US come from California.  They have a characteristic green color and distinct flavor.  Nuts are a great source of protein and fiber and research shows, eating nuts daily may help with weight management.  If you’re accustomed to getting roasted or salted nuts, for the purpose of this eating exercise, try the naked, unadulterated variety.  Place the pistachio on your tongue, notice the texture, taste and mouth feel.  Now, start chewing slowly.  What do you notice?

3.  Artichokes
While artichoke hearts from a can or jar make for great dips and salad additions, for a more mindful experience, I encourage you to try a whole artichoke.  Artichokes are typically boiled or steamed until the leaves are tender. A cooked, unseasoned artichoke has a delicate flavor, reminiscent of fried egg white.  The core of the stem tastes similar to the artichoke heart, and is edible.  Once cooked, artichokes can be served whole.  The leaves are often removed one at a time, and the fleshy base eaten, with hollandaise, vinegar, butter, mayonnaise, aioli, lemon juice, or other sauces.  The fibrous upper part of each leaf is usually discarded.  The heart is eaten when the inedible choke has been peeled away from the base and discarded. The thin leaves covering the choke are also edible. Artichokes are rich in fiber, potassium, iron, vitamin C, folate. thiamin and B6.  This nutrient profile makes them excellent for cardiac health and metabolism.  Artichokes are also a beautiful, flowery addition to any plate.

4.  Coconuts
I will never forget injuring myself as a young teen while attempting to cut open a coconut with a butter knife, the sharpest object I could find in our hotel room.  While I never did get to eat THAT coconut, I did learn how to enjoy eating a whole coconut.  AND, you can learn as well by watching this quick video quick video.  Coconut has gotten a lot of good press lately – coconut oil, coconut water and coconut flesh all offer great nutritional benefits.  This article in Eating Well magazine does a great job highlighting these benefits.

5.  Oranges
Oranges, tangerines, clementines, you pick!  There’s no better way to ground yourself than to peel a piece of citrus.  The vibrant smell, the zest and the texture feel in your hands and mouth all lend to a mindful moment.  Notice how all the foods on this list require you to slow down and simply focus on the eating process.  Next time you’re needing to slow down and recharge, peel or cut an orange and take a deep breath.  Inhale it’s invigorating scent.  Think about how you’re providing your body with 100% of it’s vitamin C requirements by eating this one, simple delicious fruit.

6.  Grapefruits
Similar to the orange, grapefruit has a powerful energizing and grounding scent.  Whenever I eat grapefruit I think of my grandmother who had these special grapefruit spoons with prongs on the end to help cut through the flesh of the fruit.  She would always cut the grapefruit in half and then segment each triangle section with a knife so that they would easily come out.  I’ve tried for years to recreate her work but often find I don’t have the patience.  Nonetheless, I find it’s still a great mindfulness practice to both prepare and eat grapefruit.

7.  Edamame (in pods)
Edamame is simply fun to eat.  The only way I know to eat these is to steam them, dip them in soy sauce and squeeze them out of the pod and into my mouth using my teeth.  This is such a fun and satisfying experience, I encourage all of you to try it!  And know that while your popping these pods, you’re also popping in a good amount of protein, fiber and omega-3s.

8.  Dates
If only ALL dates were as sweet as the edible ones!  Hee hee.  These little gems are naturally flavorful and offer a great way to satisfy your sweet tooth in a nutritionally-rich way.  Because of their chewy texture and pit, dates offer a sensory-rich experience.  Whenever we stimulate our senses, particularly more than one simultaneously, it helps bring us into the moment.  On the nutrition front, dates are a powerhouse of potassium, the mineral that protects the heart by keeping sodium levels in check and prevents high blood pressure.  A 1-cup serving of dates contains up to three times as much potassium as a 1-cup serving of bananas. They are also an excellent source of dietary fiber, which supports the digestive system and provides a sense of fullness. Dates are also plentiful in B-complex vitamins, and minerals like magnesium and iron. Try mindfully eating a date after your next meal and see how satisfying it is.

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