A love of delicious, nutritious food runs deep in my core. It’s why I decided to use my training as a professional nutritionist to help others marry the tastes they crave with healthier choices. In my world, “delicious” and “nutritious” are never at odds with each other. I refuse to give up either one of those food goals—and neither should you.
I also believe that no food is ever off-limits. White rice? Yes, since in some recipes brown rice just doesn’t provide the right texture. Bacon? Absolutely—in thoughtful moderation.
Of course, I’m not saying you can make those things equal a carrot stick in terms of nutrition. But you should allow yourself to indulge in the flavors you’re craving. The trick is to look for ways to use those ingredients in minimal amounts for maximum impact. So that bacon you love can be the garnish of a better-for-you BLT sandwich that uses whole-grain bread, spinach and tomatoes, with avocado spread instead of mayo.
I like to think of mindful eating as the sweet spot where “delicious” and “healthy” meet. The goal is to make what you crave part of something that’s a better choice for your body and mind. Eating is a sensory experience, so it’s important to lead your decision-making with what you’re in the mood for, be it crunchy, comfort food, sweet or refreshing. Then ask, How I can make it a more mindful choice?
Once you sit down with your food, take a few moments to savor it. I’m not suggesting that you literally stretch out your meals. If you have only 15 minutes to eat, I get it. But in whatever time you do have, I would challenge you to really enjoy how it smells and looks. Think about how each bite tastes. Chances are you’ll eat less because you’ll feel satisfied sooner.
Do these simple things and you’ve mastered the art of mindful eating.
Registered dietitian Ellie Krieger is a Mindful by Sodexo culinary ambassador and the star of “Ellie’s Real Good Food” on PBS. Her latest best-selling cookbook, “You Have It Made: Delicious, Healthy, Do-Ahead Meals,” was recently honored with a James Beard Award of Excellence in the Health Book Category.