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‘One of the very nicest things about life, is the way we must regularly stop whatever it is we are doing and devote our attention to eating.’

It is not a secret that healthy eating, and a balanced wellbeing are the pinnacle of what is classed as popular nowadays. Everyone seems to be on the hunt for the newest ingredient or best eating habit to achieve a full and healthy way of living. But, just occasionally there will be someone who provides exactly what we need; that is Meredith.

Meredith is the founder of Food at Heart and is one of the very few who has experienced her own relationships with food and found a way to not miss out on the good stuff. (Did chocolate just pop into your head? Good! You will definitely like this blog then)

Meredith creates a loving blend of meditation, mindfulness and chocolate to assist people with stress in a delicious and manageable way. There is nothing worse than being given diet tips and ways to relax that hinder your progress by being too difficult or restrictive! Meredith uses her slow tasting sessions, meditation workshops and show chocolate product range to help people eat and live more mindfully.

Meredith, how different is your relationship to food now compared to when you were younger? What made you change your food lifestyle?

“I’ve always eaten pretty well as my mum is a really good cook, so we grew up with tasty, home cooked food and lots of lovely Aussie ingredients. She gave me a love of proper food! (not forgetting BBQs...) Once I started buying my own food I became more interested in buying organic and starting to learn about seasonal food in the UK (when I was growing up it was kind of obvious as anything out of season shot up in price!). I think what changed over time was more how I ate, though I also got to know which foods worked better for my body. And in some ways, I've also learned to be more relaxed about what I eat rather than trying to have a "perfect" diet.”

I do not know about you, but it is refreshing to hear that you can achieve a healthy happiness not by restricting yourself our punishing your body for eating what it wants and needs!

Where to begin?

Meredith recommends using elements of the sensory experience of mindfulness to think about the food on your plate in creating an interesting and nourishing meal. If all you have is a bland coloured looking plate, then 9 times out of 10, the food will taste just as bland.

Just some ways you could use this include: 

SIGHT

‘We eat with our eyes (our sight is the fastest sense to process) so, consider how many colours are on your plate - using one of my recent Instagram pictures for example e.g. purple carrots, bright green watercress, soft green olive oil, yellow organic butter, toasty brown sourdough crusts. I try to get at least 3 different brighter colours on a plate for lunch and tea (though it's normally more than this).

TOUCH

‘Do you have lots of textures on your plate (and your palate) to keep things interesting? Consider things like crispy, creamy, smooth, crunchy... Try to get at least 3 different textures in a dish. This can help you create interesting dishes with a good balance of ingredients. For example, this could be creamy peanut butter satay sauce, drizzle over slightly crunchy and soft roast veg, with a crispy side salad.’

TASTE

‘Considering the basic tastes is a great way to make satisfying dishes. This is something South Eastern Asian and Japanese cuisine does well as a meal will contain all the basic tastes: sweet, salty, bitter, sour and umami. Try to get at least 3 different tastes in a meal: sweet roasted carrots, with a sour lemony dressing and a splash of umami soy sauce. Taking this approach will naturally then give you lots of flavour in your food (though flavour is down to smell not taste!)

So, avoid the boring Tesco meal deal or a processed sandwich sitting on a shelf all day and give your tummy a treat!

How can I have this experience in every aspect of food?

‘You can use all of this in cooking too, not just in eating, as preparing food can be a really mindful and relaxing activity; cooking from scratch does help to give you a better connection with ingredients and what you're putting in your body - but if you don't cook a lot, maybe choose just one meal a week that you'll put together from scratch and get great at making a handful of dishes so you can rotate them from week to week! It just takes a little practise (and a bit of reading or Googling) - and I now have a handful of mid-week dishes that I know I can pull together with minimal fuss, not too much cooking and which I know I'll enjoy.’

Meredith’s top tips 

  • ‘Try and pay attention to the seasons as this will help guide fresh ingredients to use - food in season tastes better and is often cheaper too (and did you know seasonal eating applies to meat, fish and cheese too!)’
  • ‘Don't forget to take time over food - it's not great for your digestion or for taste sensation to be rushing through meals with lots of screens on. Even if just for a mouthful, take a breath, take your time and go slow. If you want to experience the true pleasure of this, try a mindful eating exercise with a piece of good dark chocolate - start with you sight, working through touch, listening as you snap the chocolate, smell (both through your nose and mouth when you breathe), and taste. You can do this with any food of course, but dark chocolate has so many flavours that it's still one of the best ingredients to really bring this to life. Plus, it makes me feel happy!’
  • ‘Listen to your body - get to know how your body feels with certain types of food (this is also where being more connected with your senses is really important). If you are like me and are one of the 10-20% of the population who suffers with IBS, following the latest fad diets or slavishly eating what an Instagrammer is eating isn't likely to make you feel great. You really need to gradually understand what works for you. If you are really stuck, it's also worth seeking advice from a properly qualified nutritionist or dietitian.’ 
  • ‘Be kind to yourself! True healthy eating is always about balance, lots of nutritionists talk about the 80/20 rule of eating well, so of course don't beat yourself up. If you enjoy a takeaway or store-bought biscuit, then have some! If you love cake, have a slice and actually let yourself genuinely enjoy it - and maybe use some of the sensory tips to taste it in a different and more mindful way!’

How many times have we had a takeaway, felt rubbish the next morning and not actually spent the time tasting it? If you are going to consume the good stuff, then at least make the most of it!

If this blog has peaked your interest, then Meredith has a monthly Mindful Hot Chocolate Meditation! One of our panda’s has attended such an event incorporated with Ashtanga yoga. Meredith will also be popping up with Slow Chocolate Duck Pond Market Events in Ruislip and Richmond. That is not all! Meredith also runs bespoke mindfulness and meditation events for corporate companies and teams. We cannot recommend more how such a benefit will help your team to feel cared for and appreciated in their role.

It is so easy to get distracted in life, especially at work, that we forget to look after ourselves. Give your tummy some lovin.

 

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