I went to an event a few weeks ago put on by my friends Paula Barmore, Anoosh Shariat & Carlos Rivas called Compassion and Cooking. It is a monthly breakfast series held at Noosh Nosh and the idea is to bring together mindfulness and healthy eating, as they go hand in hand so well. The concept intrigued me and I was fortunate to attend.

This also timed absolutely perfectly with me going to a retreat at a yoga center just outside of Nashville, TN. I actually attended this breakfast just prior to getting on the road. Little did I know how much I would learn about food in the coming days. I’ll write about the retreat in another article, but suffice it to say that food and what you put into your body plays into your spiritual and mindful life more than I ever realized.

In my studies I’m learning more and more the connection between what we put in our body and our performance on every level, but especially mentally. The body has to expend energy in the process of digesting the foods that we eat. Some foods take much more energy to digest and take much longer to pass through our system. Sometimes it’s not the food we’re eating that is bad, but the way it is processed or preserved can have a harmful effect on our bodies. This also makes for another great point- our bodies are so flexible. You talk about a machine that can run on nearly anything we put in it. But in the case with us, what you put in has such a dramatic effect on how this body runs. When we put in good, high energy food, our body responds accordingly. Yes, our bodies can survive on junk food and it will live. But it will not be operate at peak performance.

Chef Anoosh talked a bit about how to find the best food at the supermarket in this episode of his #AnooshKnows series. He said that you should shop the perimeter of your grocery store to find the freshest, best foods. Fresh produce, good, vibrant colored fruits, and vegetables are the absolute best to put in your body. And there are so many different ways you can prepare vegetables that, as long as you’re open to trying things, you’ll never run out of different ways to eat seemingly plain items. Eat fresh meat, but do so sparingly. Meat stays in your body significantly longer than fruits and vegetables.

Also, something to remember that we often forget is to chew your food thoroughly. The process of digestion starts in the mouth. Your saliva starts the breakdown process. Have you ever noticed that if you put a grain of uncooked rice in your mouth it will turn sweet? Your saliva starts breaking it down into glucose, or sugar. And your stomach ‘expects’ food to arrive at a certain level of digestion. When you chew your food slowly and thoroughly, you will notice that you will feel better and process food more quickly.

As you chew your food slower and more intentionally, be mindful of what you’re doing. Be mindful and aware of what you’re putting in your body. Think about where it came from and what it took to get that piece of food on your plate. You’ll be amazed at how much you don’t know when you start asking some of these questions internally. Guess what the next step is? Find out the answers! And just like that, your mindfulness and awareness is expanding your knowledge of life in general.

Small steps can lead to big changes in how you eat. Being aware of what you’re actually putting in your body is the first step to taking control of your life on a grander scale. If you don’t ask the question, you’ll never know the answer, right? Want to feel better? Want to lose weight? Want to sleep better? Want to have a better attitude? Look at what you’re putting into your body. It affects all of these things and more.

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