Written by Gavin Sklar, 2023 Let Go & Grow Summer Intern
Edited by The LG&G Team
Many things are out of our control in life. However, something that we all have in common is that we eat- an activity that many people do three or more times a day. In this article, we will explore a three step eating approach to make what might seem like a mundane daily action into a more meaningful and energizing experience.
This article includes an approach to eating that is summarized by three important words: Quality, Intention, and Fun. Quality of food is most important, intention will allow us to feel even greater than the ingredients themselves, and lastly, fun will enhance the meal to make it a meaningful experience that soothes our holistic being of mind, body, and spirit. Think of this approach like a sandwich, where intention is the part that keeps everything together.
QUALITY Over Quantity
Have you ever had a meal that seemed to sap the energy out of you? Or ate too much that it made you feel like you couldn’t move off the couch? Both of these experiences have happened to me multiple times, encouraging me to explore ways to have a better relationship with food so that negative feelings come up much less, or better yet- not at all.
With that, eating for energy all starts with quality– the physical makeup of the food we consume. Nowadays, there are so many options out there, from the grapes at the grocery store to the candy bars by the checkout line- that it is very hard to choose the best options for our energy. At Let Go & Grow, we try to keep it simple. Choose whole food options that include multiple different colors, choose organic if you can, and choose options that make you feel good.
“Feeling good” is a broad term, but what I mean by this is to choose foods that make us feel good both in the action of eating and afterward. A lot of the time, we can overcomplicate things and make food choices even more difficult when we try to focus on calorie count or macronutrient totals. Here, we can go beyond this systematic numerical approach, and start to tune more into the way our body and mind feel. Since eating is highly individual, to know what this means for you, work on your awareness when eating. Eat without the phone. Chew slowly. More importantly, work on your awareness after eating. Does my mind feel clear? Does my body feel lethargic? The goal of this eating approach is to continuously take more steps to feel ENERGIZED. To me that includes a calm, light focus that is not overbearing, and a feeling of vitality that makes me want to seize the rest of the day.
Another important aspect of quality is keeping awareness not to overeat. Even with healthy food, it is possible to overeat, causing us to feel tired, unmotivated, and confused. Once again here, take notice. After finishing your first portion, let yourself rest for 5-10 minutes before going for seconds to see if you are still hungry. Usually, it takes longer for our body to tell our mind that we are full. Another approach to this is to focus on filling up to only ¾ of what may seem like a full belly. This allows us to take on a new perspective that we don’t have to be “full” when eating. What works for me is focusing on feeling lightness rather than fullness. Eating too much can cause one to feel heavy. Lightness allows us to still operate through the rest of the day at a functional and effective level.
INTENTION Is Everything
Many times, we can find ourselves eating mindlessly where our attention is mostly elsewhere than actually on eating the food! Research shows that even looking at our phone directs blood flow away from the digestive tract and to the brain instead. This causes less optimal digestion and can cause us to eat too fast (possibly resulting in overeating), and most of all… less enjoyment. And when the plate is empty, we ask ourselves, “where did it all go?!”
To create a more mindful eating experience, it is important to eat with intention. Intention can mean different things to different people, but to me, intention is the deliberate choice of mindset to guide one’s experience in a directed way.
A prime example from my life that includes eating with intention is from my article “Homemade Smoothie Bowl Recipe: Quality Food For Both the Body and the Budget.” I showcase a homemade smoothie bowl I prepared that was fueled by intention. Although this meal was healthy, tasty, and cost-effective, it was still so much more!
First, this meal was prepared and eaten after a long early morning run– a delicious reward and treat for putting in the work– for choosing self-care and movement to start the day. Additionally, this meal was intentionally chosen to provide plenty of glycogen (carbs) and protein to replenish my muscles as well as jumpstart recovery for all-around optimal exercise results. Furthermore, as seen in the recipe article, all ingredients were organic to keep it clean (limiting possible pesticides), including plenty of fruits that are filled with nutritious phytochemicals, as well as fiber to fuel the gut. Plus, it didn’t break the budget (refer to the article above)!
Another aspect of intention is a “set” intention (mind frame) while eating this meal. A set intention could be a word, phrase, or reason why we are eating what we are, or a thought to internalize and/or keep in mind while eating. Many times, I allow a quote, mantra, or phrase to fuel or be the intention of how I want to feel with the meal. It can even manifest as a prayer.
Keep in mind, intention can commonly be confused with a goal, but it is different. Think of it as the deeper fuel behind the goal. The keys to an impactful intention are to:
- Tune In: Tune in to how you are feeling and what the body intuitively needs.
- Set An Intention: Examples include words from this article here.
- Let Go: Let the intention go into the universe and let it do its job. No need to attach oneself to it.
This time, my intention was fueled in an interesting way- the bowl that the food is in. As seen in the picture, the bowl says JOY.
This inspired me to set an intention to fully and deeply “enJOY” this meal– choosing to eat slowly, savoring each bite at a time, while keeping thoughts of gratitude for everything that made the meal possible. The benefit of setting an intention before we eat is that it sinks into our subconscious so that these thoughts circulate in our mind, while not pulling us out of the present moment. Importantly, the set intention can relate to many more experiences beyond food including an intention for the whole month, day, or even a 1-hour work session.
It is encouraged here to go at your own pace and not to try all these tips at once- that can definitely be overwhelming. The point here is not to be obsessive, but more so this intentional approach is to operate through life in a more expansive way- where our decisions are working for us and not against us. Where we can take possibly mundane situations, and with awareness, shift them into meaningful experiences that align more with the best version of ourself. Where we are eating not just to survive, but to THRIVE.
FUN Is Freeing
To complete our three step “Eating For Energy” approach, this meal was made and eaten with lots of FUN. Here, I made the smoothie bowl meal with music in the background while dancing and thinking thoughts of gratitude, like for example, the run I had earlier.
Gratitude is the fuel for joy. When we appreciate the things, people, places, and experiences in our life, this can make us even more happy and joyous than the activities themselves! It shifts our perspective from scarcity to abundance. Where we can focus on all that we are, all that we have, all that we CAN do. Gratitude will leave us with long-term joy, rather than instant joy/pleasure (or instant gratification). So, to fuel my set intention of JOY, I kept thoughts of gratitude in mind for each ingredient; for my legs that let me run earlier, for the deliciousness of this meal, and more! The byproduct, being not only a healthy body but also a healthy and positive feeling in the mind and spirit too.
Other ways to have fun while eating that I did not do with this particular meal, but do with many others, are eating with friends or family (ideally with plenty of laughter), enjoying some background music, and eating outside in the fresh air. This aspect of eating will foster more connection within oneself and with others. An extra plus is when we eat with positive feelings, our food digests even better!
The writing throughout this article shows how the eating approach of Quality, Intention, and Fun can enhance our food experience, as well as our precious energy. With quality food choices, our body will feel healthier. With 10-30 extra seconds of thought, aka intention, our meal can bring us to a more positive mental state. And with fun, joyous company, atmosphere, and/or activity, our meal will be way more than food and way more than even a yummy healthy meal. It now will fuel our holistic being that is made up of mind, body, spirit, and more. The combination of these factors above will lead to an all-around incredible experience.
If you are looking for a structured approach to reset both the mind and body, at Let Go & Grow, we offer the Mind Body Reset program where you can find your individual path to eating, healing, and wellness! 🙂
So, next time you eat, ask yourself, what am I truly eating for?
Diet philosophy: Drop the dogma & discover what works for you. Dr. Brooke Stuart. (2018, November 19). https://www.drbrookestuart.com/drop-diet-dogma-discover-works/
Distress, Eustress, contraction and expansion. Dr. Brooke Stuart. (2023a, February 26). https://www.drbrookestuart.com/distress-eustress-contraction-and-expansion/#comment-18028
How to set a powerful intention. Dr. Brooke Stuart. (2023b, January 1). https://www.drbrookestuart.com/set-powerful-intention/
How to take pride in yourself and your choices. Dr. Brooke Stuart. (2021, December 12). https://www.drbrookestuart.com/how-to-take-pride-in-yourself-and-your-choices/
Join the mind-body reset. Let Go & Grow. (2022, November 3). https://letgoandgrow.com/mind-body-reset/?wpam_id=13
Shifting from scarcity to abundance. Dr. Brooke Stuart. (2020, December 22). https://www.drbrookestuart.com/the-shift-from-scarcity-to-abundance/
Sklar, G. (2023b, June 10). Taking in the good – a powerful practice for more joy and peace in your life. Let Go & Grow. https://letgoandgrow.com/notebook/articles/taking-in-the-good/Sklar, G. (2023c, June 18). Homemade smoothie bowl recipe: Quality Food for both the body and the budget. Let Go & Grow. https://letgoandgrow.com/notebook/articles/homemade-smoothie-bowl-recipe/
Gavin Sklar is someone who strives for excellence in everything he does and is. He is passionate about feeling his best within his own body and helping others do the same. Gavin grew up playing plenty of sports with his main sport being baseball where he competed at the Varsity level in High School and was the team captain for his senior year. Sports taught Gavin the values of commitment, discipline, and effort while doing something that he loves. Additionally, growing up as the oldest of 4 children and later on the captain of the high school baseball team, he needed to learn how to lead others in many different ways for both an optimal family and team dynamic. Now, Gavin holds the positions of Content Writer at Let Go & Grow International and President of the Holistic Living Organization at UCF where he aims to grow and impact others on a daily basis.