One time I sat through a health and fitness talk with a panel of international speakers along with some of our very own specialists — a taichi instructor, a cross-fit instructor, a homoeopathic doctor and a nutritionist. The common argument that reverberated with each was mindfulness as the first step to a healthy lifestyle.
Mindfulness is the simple art of being aware and in the moment. It is tuning the mind into the present and maintaining a moment to moment awareness of your thought, feelings, body and the environment around you. I guess you can call it being ‘woke’.
1. Eat mindfully
Being intentional right from when you go grocery shopping to when that meal hits your plate. Thinking through your purchases. How many tomatoes do I need? How many rice dishes will we do? What do I want to create with this? Do I need this or is it an impulsive buy?
Be intentional when you cook or when you choose from the menu. If you want to be healthy, you need to eat more vegetables than anything else. Half your plate to be exact.
Get into the kitchen and cook with the only goal being to create something that leaves your taste buds bursting with flavours. You’ll be glad you did and so will your people.
Be intentional when you eat. How much is too much? When serving, listen to your body like you would a fuel gauge on your vehicle when driving long distance. How hungry am I? It will tell you. Enjoy your meal.
Be comfortable. No one enjoys their meal when they are moving around. It will get the job done but you won’t enjoy it. Mindfulness increases the recognition of aromas, tastes and flavours and the sensations each brings.
Good food can be magical when you slow down to enjoy it.
2. Drink mindfully
People, it’s not news that binge drinking and alcohol dependency is at an all-time high.
Everyone is drinking alcohol. Laymen and clerics, women and men, university and high school students.
That’s a big chunk of the population. Statistically speaking, alcohol-related disorders cause four out of 100 deaths in Kenya. Maybe it’s time we do it differently.
Your relationship with alcohol doesn’t need to be a love-hate one. You can drink, have fun and not ruin yours and everyone’s night. Don’t be that guy or girl. When you drink mindfully, you pace yourself and hydrate while you are at it.
Ask and listen to how your body and mind feel. If you’re incoherent and can’t stand straight it’s an indicator you are well past your tolerance point. If this is you, your liver doesn’t like you much. Give it a break. If you have back to back parties and engagements, you don’t have to drink alcohol. It’s not compulsory. Try a non-alcoholic cocktail. Or tea. Some people even opt for some kombucha. Also, eat before you go on a bender.
Maybe you don’t take alcohol and you don’t understand the craze of it all. This is for you. Tea is not water. Soda is not water.
Coffee is not water either and neither is soup. All these are great for quenching your thirst but there’s no alternative for water. Even kids need water. If they can eat, they can drink water. Always in moderation. We don’t want you overdosing on the water — yes, it happens. It’s called hyponatremia.
3. Move mindfully
Don’t forget to move your body. Dance, play with the kids and the grandkids. Play with your wife and your husband.
Play with your friends. By play, I don’t mean video games and Nintendo. Go out into the sun, into the rain. Run up those stairs. Walk to church or where you go to worship and walk for pizza or the movies after. Swim. Real swimming. Not splashing water around just so you don’t get the hair or the beard wet.
4. Socialise mindfully
Make time for people you love and who love you. Make time for family. Science has proven over and over that the happiest people and those who live the longest are always connected to family and friends. We all need that vitamin love to thrive. Stay away from people who vex you and from people know you shouldn’t be around. No need for that drama.
Go to church, or mosque or temple at least once. Go and see what changed while you were away.
The writer is Nutritionist/Dietician, Chiropractic & Physiotherapy Health Centre.