Whole Foods Has A Mindful Eating Series. Here's What You Need To Know

In an article about ways to improve wellness during the pandemic, UT Southwestern Medical Center says that one of the most important steps that may boost your immune system and lead to optimal health is to "eat and cook well." Doing so not only encourages the consumption of healthy foods, they say, but also inspires people to learn how to enjoy the process of cooking them as well. Fostering a healthy relationship with food is just one of the many steps advocated by the center's Culinary Medicine Program for reaching optimal health (others include sleeping well, social connection, and regular movement) — but food is often seen as one of the most challenging.

That's where Whole Foods and the meditation app Headspace come in. Together, they have joined forces to help teach consumers how to practice mindful eating and actively develop a meaningful connection to food (via Forbes). This novel partnership has produced a series of diverse content covering every step of consumption, from the market to the table. 

One component, called "Food for Mood," is a series of short recipe videos available on Whole Foods' Instagram centered around specific ingredients that may be beneficial, not only for one's physical health, but for mental health as well. On Headspace's website and app, there's like-minded meditation pieces intended to help establish a healthy connection with food, from selecting ingredients to preparing them and enjoying the final result.

Recipes that may help enhance your mood

According to the CDC, healthy food choices should start early. A diet composed primarily of fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains, and dairy that is low in — or free of — fat is beneficial for children to aid in growth and development. Continuing to eat this way across time may also help adults build defenses against chronic diseases. But, food doesn't only affect physical health. As Cleveland Clinic explains, the production of chemicals in the brain responsible for regulating one's mood, attention levels, and energy can be stimulated or aided by the consumption of specific foods and nutrients.

In the "Food for Mood" series on Whole Foods' Instagram, holistic chef and food advocate Sophia Roe teams up with nutritionist and Harvard-trained psychiatrist Dr. Uma Naidoo to deliver four recipes that have been individually crafted to boost different feelings: joy, energy, focus, and relaxation. In each short video, the experts not only demonstrate how each recipe is made in a cheerful and relaxing way, but also break down each ingredient's role in possibly improving mood.

Meditations that might reduce food-related anxiety

On the Headspace side of this new collaboration are three 6- to 7-minute meditations focusing on a few main experiences involved with food consumption: grocery shopping, cooking, and eating — each of which can feel daunting in their own way.

Clinical psychologist Kevin Chapman — who spoke with HuffPost — explains that grocery store anxiety is not only real but is experienced on a spectrum that ranges from obsessing over trips to the store to avoiding the market altogether. One of Headspace's meditation episodes, called "Joyful Shopping," guides customers through mindfully experiencing the stimulating sights, sounds, and smells in order to possibly reduce stress while selecting ingredients.

Two other episodes, "Cooking with Gratitude" and "Mindful Eating," focus on trying to reduce the anxieties some may feel when preparing food and/or consuming it. As Headspace explains, mindful cooking — or, actively placing your attention on the smells, sounds, sights, and textures of the ingredients being prepared — may reduce stress in the kitchen and possibly boost feelings of calmness and focus. Additionally, practicing mindful eating encourages being present in the moment while chewing, as well as learning how to check in with your body to uncover any feelings, thoughts, or sensations that may be occurring at the same time (via Harvard Health Publishing).