How to Eat Mindfully with Holistic Nutritionist Daniela Kende

Hi Gooey Girl fam! My name is Daniela Kende, and I run my own holistic nutrition coaching practice. I specialize in helping women break free from rules and restriction around food, and instead to get in touch with their unique needs and desires. I help my clients create more energy, reach and maintain their ideal weight, and reveal clear and glowing skin through mindful nourishment both on and off the plate. In my three years of private and group coaching, I’ve learned on such a profound level that what truly feeds us goes way beyond the food that we eat! You can find me on Insta @danielakende or at www.danielakende.com.

Mindfulness – or the practice of being more present and aware of your thoughts, emotions, and actions – is enormously important when it comes to holistic nutrition! In the holistic approach to nutrition, we take the whole person into account – not just the calories, macro, and micronutrients that they consume each day. The first assignment I give each new client is to keep a “Food and Feelings” journal for a week. By having them write down everything they eat plus how they feel physically, emotionally, and energetically throughout the day, we begin to uncover interesting patterns when it comes to their food choices and emotional state, and we’ll often even discover hidden food sensitivities. Bringing attention to how we feel in our bodies and minds throughout the day is the first step towards more mindful eating and living.

HOW CAN WE BE MINDFUL WHILE WE ________________

Shop for our food? I’m so glad you are asking this question!

Step 1: Don't shop hungry! Processed, refined carbohydrates (aka energy draining foods) will look so much more appealing when your blood sugar is low, and any attempt at mindfulness will likely go out the window. Even if you manage to stick to buying mostly healthy foods, you'll be much more likely to overfill your cart and buy too much. The key to enabling mindfulness is to first have your basic needs met (i.e. being well-rested and well-fed).

Step 2: Being mindful means being informed about what you are consuming. Get into the practice of reading ingredients of anything that has a label. I advise my clients to ignore all of the pretty pictures and language on the front of boxes and go straight to the facts on the back – cause the facts don't lie (usually)!  If a product has a laundry list of additives, preservatives, coloring, or natural or artificial flavors, do your best to skip it. The same goes for added sweeteners. Be on the lookout for sneaky forms of sugar like evaporated cane syrup and agave, and check how many grams of sugar there are per serving. My clients are often surprised when they discover how much sugar is hiding in savory condiments and dressings. Generally speaking, organic brands will usually have cleaner labels. When in doubt, compare two brands to see which has less sugar, sodium, and a fewer number of ingredients. That’s probably going to be your winner!

Prepare our food?

I believe that the energy we bring to meal preparation is so important. There’s a reason that mom’s chicken soup was so healing when you were sick with a cold. Yes, the food itself was nourishing, but the energy of love and care that was poured into that dish is most vital!

I like to treat cooking as a form of meditation. Step away from your phone, turn on music that you love, and really practice being present with each step of meal prep. As you are chopping vegetables, reflect on the colorful density of life-giving nutrients that Mother Nature packed into each veggie! And challenge yourself to explore different spices and herbs so you can discover what flavors light up your taste buds. Cooking is a great stimulus for increased mindfulness, as it requires presence and tapping into all of our senses.

Most importantly, take a break from judgment and perfectionism while you are cooking. There are no wrong answers, and often the best discoveries and dishes come out of those “oops” moments. So have fun with it, and if something tastes terrible, laugh it off knowing you’ve learned something new!

Eat our food?

I’ve led entire workshops on increasing mindfulness while eating, guiding participants through an eating meditation. I will say that the key takeaway is to s l o w w   d o w n. We (myself included) are so used to multitasking all day, and it usually doesn’t stop when we sit down to eat – if we sit down at all.

Start by actually sitting down to eat. Don’t bring your phone to the table, turn off the TV, and actually look at the food you are about to eat. Next, take a few deep, slow breaths, and find a moment of stillness, giving thanks for the food that you or someone else lovingly prepared. As you take your first bite, actively engage your senses. Notice what the food smells like, what it feels like in your mouth, how it tastes, and the sounds it makes as you chew. Actually chew your first bite of food thoroughly, swallow it, and then put down your utensil for a second or two. Notice if your tendency is usually to race through your meal to the finish line as if someone is timing you! Can you give yourself permission to eat more slowly, and actually stay present with your meal instead of thinking about what you are doing next? Mindful eating is a beautiful form of meditation, and all it requires is desire and practice. You got this.

Even if you aren’t working with a holistic nutritionist, starting a Food & Feelings journal is something you can do on your own. Try it for a week or two and see what you discover about your habits, energy, and mood throughout the day. Take note of when you eat something because of a physical need vs. to numb or soothe an emotional need. Ask yourself what you might have actually needed to feel or express in that moment, and then practice letting yourself feel it a bit next time before turning to food.

I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to practice being kind to yourself. Judgment does nothing but perpetuate toxic inner thoughts and destructive, mindless decisions around food. When you practice being what I like to call a compassionate investigator, you open yourself up to the possibility of increased mindfulness, joy, and satisfaction with food and beyond!

– as told to Gooey Girl