"We eat to nourish our bodies," says registered dietitian Helene Charlebois. "Unfortunately, a lot of us have forgotten this fact and we eat to fight boredom or distract us from thinking or feeling. And, in some cases, we eat out of habit — like while watching television." And that can lead to not even remembering when we ate, what we ate, and how much of it.
Fortunately, it's not that difficult to reconnect with food and start enjoying it again. Here's Helene advice for adding some zest to your eating.
- Use your senses. Don't just eat with your stomach — eat with your eyes, nose, ears and mouth so that you experience your food.
- Listen for the sounds of food being prepared and cooked
- Savour the aroma of your food before you dig in. "Smell is where your taste buds start," says Helene.
- Look at your food and enjoy the colours and shapes.
- Really taste your food by chewing slowly and letting it linger in your mouth. Your saliva helps signal your brain to sense what's in your mouth.
- Experiment — realistically. Rather than rushing out to buy new foods, start by using what you have in a different way. For example:
- Take stock of what's on hand and go online to find a recipe that features one or two of those items.
- Use salad dressing to marinate meat or to dress up microwaved vegetables.
- If it's time to restock, go shopping and only buy fruits and vegetables that are on sale. "You'll save money and probably come home with something you haven't eaten in a while or ever," she says. There are plenty of recipes online to try.
- Challenge yourself to cook. For some of us, cooking every day is unrealistic. But that shouldn't stop you from getting your hands (and pots and pans) dirty one day a week:
- Try a new recipe every week.
- Pull out those forgotten kitchen appliances — slow cooker, rice cooker, electric grill — and use them. Bonus: you'll probably find recipes ideas in the instruction booklet.
- Sign up for a cooking class.
- Cure your "I'm so sick of my diet!" slump. Eating is supposed to be one of life's best pleasures and should never be boring. "Go outside of your food comfort zone and exercise your taste buds," advises Helene.
- Try different spices to dress up your favourites.
- Add lots of different veggies to canned soup. This dilutes the sodium content per serving, introduces different taste to something you already like, and stretches your grocery dollar.
- Try a cuisine from a different part of the world.
- Make it social. Whether it's just your spouse and kids on a weeknight or extended family or close friends on the weekend make eating a social event:
- Do the prep work together — chop veggies, mix ingredients, or set the table.
- If time is tight, buy pre-cooked chicken and bagged salad. Even small, fast meals can be social.
- Host a potluck meal and exchange recipes.
Use these links to find more information or tips about ideas expressed in this article:
- Audio: Mind over matter
- Game: Guess the food
- Interactive: Cut down on salt — without cutting down on taste
- Interactive: Go global — the healthy way
- Family fun: Take our nutrition quiz!
- Put a stop to emotional eating — for good!
- Super fast, super easy breakfast and lunch ideas
- 7 easy ways to get more fruits and vegetables
- Healthy meal prep for the time crunched
- Your budget-wise guide to healthy eating