We’ve all heard this old adage before, but you are what you eat is more than just a catchy phrase; it’s an important reminder of the potent link between the food that goes into our mouths and the health of our physical bodies.

I would argue that it is also crucial to think about how and where we eat. Life is crazy busy and good eating habits are one of the most important life skills that we can practice at every meal.

So here are some tips for how you can become more mindful about the fuel you put into your body:

1. Start by reclaiming your pantry and fridge, filling them with only real, fresh, whole and local foods whenever possible.

2. Teach and learn how to cook. If there is no prep work in your meals, you are on the wrong path. Cooking needs time. It doesn’t have to be a lot of time; a focused 30 minutes can prepare a feast. But that preparation is key. Start easy, just cutting and mixing, then move onto the oven or the grill.

3. Don’t skip breakfast. Every day, start with a powerful dose of protein and calories to replenish your energy from the first meal of the day. It could be as easy as blending fruit, nuts, oatmeal and milk. Quick, filling and full of goodness!

4. Eat at home. Get the meal ready to serve and sit down at the table, with no distractions. Start a conversation, take your time, and enjoy the fruits of your labor.

5. Be aware of each and every bite. Be mindful of the flavors and textures.

6. Be practical. If you are having lunch at school or work, don’t let that derail you. It can be easy to prepare! Choose a protein (beans, tuna, chicken, etc.) and a carbohydrate (whole wheat bread, brown pasta, rice, plenty of vegetables). And for dessert: Fresh fruit.

7. Always drink plenty of water. You need at least half of your body weight in ounces.

8. Teach and learn where food comes from. Plant a garden; all you need is a window and sun. There is something magical about bringing flavors directly from the soil to your plate.
Food deserves appreciation and respect. Just think about the road a single fruit takes from the moment the seed is planted to the moment it reaches your mouth. Sun, soil, water, time, hard work, transportation and care are a part of each bite.

Eat vibrant, nutrient-dense food and your body will in turn thrive.

Enjoy and be truly thankful for it.

Written by Monica Kerik