With thousands of search results in Google, it can feel overwhelming and confusing to find information on how to build healthy habits with eating and exercise. Often there is contradicting advice on various websites, making it difficult to navigate. Hear the perspective of mental health therapists who take into consideration the cognitive and behavioral health of some of these habits.

Tips for healthy eating often include advice such as: avoid sugary or processed foods. While this advice is well intentioned, restrictive eating or completely cutting out an entire food group from your diet is actually a form of disordered eating. The choice that’s best suited to both your physical and mental health is to eat everything in moderation.

Do you have an “all or nothing,” temperament when it comes to food? Daily mindfulness practices can not only decrease binge eating but also reduce stress. Psych Central explains:

“With mindful eating, you can learn to live in the moment of eating to enjoy everything about the food. The goal is to think about the food and take the time to feel, smell, and taste it to enhance the experience and find more fulfillment in eating. While mindful eating can simply help you slow down and enjoy your food, it can also help address disordered eating patterns and aid in weight management, according to a 2017 literature review.”

Mindfulness can be used across a variety of healthy habits. Eating and drinking go from unconscious acts to fuel ourselves into intentional time we spend caring for and nourishing our bodies. You can apply this to exercise as well. The more mindful and present you are in your work out, the less likely you are to injure yourself and the more likely you are to gain self-awareness and be in tune with your body’s functioning.

By itself, mindfulness can also be a relaxing psychological exercise. The American Psychiatric Association says, “Among its theorized benefits are self-control, objectivity, affect tolerance, enhanced flexibility, equanimity, improved concentration, mental clarity, and emotional intelligence.” Mindfulness exercises are frequently prescribed by mental health clinicians to their clients who struggle with anxiety, depression, PTSD, and OCD. With many mental health resources being available online, one can find shorter 3 minute guided meditations on YouTube, or longer 60 minute meditations from apps like Calm or Headspace. This allows even the busiest people to be able to incorporate this important practice into their daily life.

For more information on mindfulness, visit Mindful.org