We’re all busy these days rushing around from one thing to another. Even so, there’s one thing we must stop to do every day, and that’s eat! But even eating is something we do in a rush. When was the last time you sat down to eat and really thought about the food you’re eating?
As we start 2024, we all want to begin the new year with healthy habits, and that includes eating. But we’re not talking about the newest fad diet. We’re talking about mindful eating – giving thought to what you’re eating and how you’re eating it.
Mari Geier is owner of Nuts ‘n Berries, an independent health food store located near the border of Chamblee and nearby Brookhaven. Mari says she purchased the health food store after a 15-year career in the fitness space.
The store was originally founded in 1980 by a couple of Californians who wanted to bring the concept of fresh food to the greater Atlanta area, making Nuts ‘n Berries the first independent health food store in the area. When the founders were ready to retire, Mari, with her background in horticulture and anthropology and an MBA in finance, stepped in to keep the fresh food concept going. Currently, Nuts ‘n Berries is the only all non-GMO grocery store serving the metro-Atlanta area. Given that, Mari is the perfect resource to talk about the concept of mindful eating.
“My mission at Nuts ‘n Berries is to show people you can get healthy and be healthy,” she says, adding that mindful eating and mindful nutrition is a lot of work. Her goal as a business owner of Nuts ‘n Berries is to make it easier. With good intentions, it can be easy to get started, but unfortunately, the challenge is staying on track.
Getting started with a mindful eating practice
Mari says the first thing to think about when you sit down to have a meal is to understand where the food on your plate came from. If you’re eating meat, does it come from a factory farm or locally?
Also, think about who is preparing your food. “We need to be careful to make sure of who is preparing our food and what energy they are putting into our food.” Is it prepared in haste or are we preparing our own food and enjoying the experience?
Mari suggests drinking a glass or two of water before a meal to avoid confusing thirst with hunger. This can also help to keep us from overeating at mealtime.
As you’re eating, slow down and take time to chew, taste and enjoy the food you’re eating. “I think there’s something to be said about savoring the food you’re eating, especially if it’s prepared with love,” she says. “That really makes it more special. I think that’s one of the reasons why, at the holidays, we have such vivid memories in our minds, because we slow down enough to eat and savor the food and the time.”
And then be grateful for the food we’re eating. Mari specifies to be grateful, not just for the food itself, but for the access to clean food.
She points out that it’s important to work with our bodies to help and not hinder the digestion process. That can be as simple as giving your body time to digest food after a meal before taking on any strenuous tasks or exercising. Not giving your body time for digestion can lead to the discomfort of indigestion, bloating, and other gastric and stomach issues.
Among the many positive aspects of mindful eating is developing your taste buds. “I think a lot of times when people slow down to eat the types of foods they choose are different than the foods they eat when they’re on the go,” she says. “So the more that we can slow down and eat, the more we can refine those taste buds, so the food ends up tasting better.” In fact, engaging all your senses while eating can help you achieve a more mindful eating practice.
Mari stresses it can be overwhelming to try to take on all aspects of mindful eating at once. “It’s little baby steps that are important,” she says. And any small step in the right direction can make a positive impact.
For more information about Nuts ‘n Berries and healthy foods, visit nutsnberries.com.
“I think there’s something to be said about savoring the food you’re eating," Mari Geier
“It’s little baby steps that are important.” Mari Geier, owner of Nuts 'n Berries