Mindful Eating: a new commitment to food

Nowadays, we are always rushing into something or somewhere. When it is time to pause for having a meal, our brain keeps connected to everything around us: we constantly check our phones, we are absorbed by social media news, and stressed by work and life issues. Amidst such turbulence, how can we be aware of the compromises made in our relationship with food?

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Inverting old and bad eating habits

Cultural, economic and marketing practices affect the way we buy and use food. Labour, leisure, preferences and lifestyle changes have made us increasingly sedentary also jeopardizing our eating habits. In the hope of contradicting these paths, many new diets have emerged, offering a range of ways to lose weight and improve our health. All these new solutions are nonetheless focused on cutting and adding nutrients to our meals, forgetting an essential part of the process: our eating behaviour.

Mindful eating cuts across this boom of trendy diets to alert us that healthy eating also included rethinking our eating habits and our relationship with food. This bond with what we eat derives from the awareness taste, smell, colour and texture of food. According to the Centre for Mindful Eating, “pausing and becoming curious focuses the mind. Mindful Eating cultivates becoming grounded in the present moment’s awareness of eating.”

This complete awareness helps us to focus or thoughts and feelings in those physical sensations related to eating, and to identify the true origin of hunger – whether if it is a physical hunger or if it is a consequence of an emotional cause.

Mindful Eating has been helpful in treating many conditions, including eating disorders – like binge eating -, depression or anxiety, and addressing various erroneous food-related behaviours.

How to practise Mindful Eating

Practising Mindful Eating may not be an easy task since it usually contradicts our normal eating habits, simultaneously demanding total concentration. According to the Harvard Health Publishing, there are a few steps that can help us improve our Mindful Eating.

First, the shopping list. We should consider the health value of every item added, preventing us from impulse buying at the supermarket. A second step is discipline.  We should avoid skipping meals and thus prevent seating at the table with excessive hunger. Meals should be taken with an appetite but in appropriate portions.

The third step involves the essence of Mindful Eating. “Appreciate your food. Pause for a minute or two before you begin eating to contemplate everything it took to bring the meal to your table. Silently express your gratitude for the opportunity to enjoy delicious food and the companions you’re enjoying it with.

Bring all your senses to the meal. When you’re cooking, serving, and eating your food, be attentive to colour, texture, aroma, and even the sounds different foods make as you prepare them. As you chew, try identifying all the ingredients, especially seasonings” as advised by Harvard Health Publishing.

The following steps involve taste and chewing. It’s easier to taste food completely when our mouth isn’t full. So taking small bites and putting down utensils between bites could help. Chewing thoroughly and eating slowly are other techniques that improve our experience in tasting all the flavours that are released.

Final advice: “Devote at least five minutes to Mindful Eating before you chat with your tablemates.”

Discover the Michelin star restaurants in Portugal 2015

The Michelin guide for restaurants distinguishes the best chefs and sets the standard for an exquisite, luxury meal anywhere in the world.

In the end of every year, Michelin releases the guide for hotels and restaurants to the following year so that travelers and food lovers can prepare their trips and pick their favorite restaurants. Portugal is no exception and the guide this year awarded 17 starts to 14 Portuguese restaurants.

In the words of Michael Ellis, International Director of the Michelin guides, this years’ guide “perfectly highlights the diversity, the renewal and the creativity of Spanish and Portuguese chefs, who have brought their distinct personalities to the kitchen with innovative, original and unique creations”.

Three restaurants received new stars: one restaurant achieved the two star classification and two restaurants were awarded one star. Chef Jose Avillez received the second star for his restaurant Belcanto in Lisbon. Belcanto and Vila Joya are now the only two Michelin star restaurants in Portugal. Concerning one star restaurants there are two new restaurants:

In this year’s edition, Portugal has two new one-starred restaurants. At São Gabriel in Almancil-Faro, Leonel Pereira places flavor at the center of an innovative cuisine that remains rooted in local traditional cooking. At Pedro Lemos in Porto, the chef who lends his name to the restaurant offers his own interpretation of Portuguese cuisine, with a harmonious combination of tradition and creativity.”

Read more here and here.