Start practicing Mindfoodness in Costa Rica’s diverse gastronomy

Today, the word wellness is heard more and more often. It is associated with being well, present and healthy. It involves different aspects of our lifestyle. The wheel of wellness includes social, spiritual, financial, environmental, emotional, intellectual, physical and occupational categories. Today we touch on the subject of eating, nutrition and mindfulness. Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive by what’s going on around us.

A play on the word mindful, the new term mindfoodness has started circulating in the health and wellness world. The rushed rhythm that many people live today tends to give us no choice but to multitask. It is common to eat while you check emails or engage in another activity. This has created a disconnection between what we consume, which in essence is what we are, and ourselves. Thankfully, mindful eating, now dubbed mindfoodness, is gaining popularity.

It is defined as the applied mindfulness at the moment of consuming food or beverages with the idea of paying full attention to it. It seeks establishing a healthier and better relationship with our food. By working our emotions and psychologies associated to eating habits, we can develop self-control and self-knowledge. Mindfoodness seeks to teach the respect and the hearing of the body’s internal signals of being satiated and full.

Costa Rica is a place that is perfect for slowing down. If you come from a big city or live a rushed pace, your visit to our country is the perfect opportunity to start practicing mindfoodness. In many places, food is prepared and served with patience. The typical plate casado tends to be colorful: white rice dotted with black beans, tiny pieces of red pepper and green cilantro, a side of green salad, possible yellow French fries, and a meat which can be fish or a brown meat. Before you eat, count the amount of items and colors on your plate. Savor each different element of such a diverse meal.

In San José, some recommendations of places to stay with healthy restaurants are: Apartotel Villas del Río, Barceló San José and Palma Real Hotel & Casino. In the hustle and bustle of a city, it is very important to be present. Use the calm atmosphere of these hotels to indulge your senses in a casado or another meal of your choice. The Wyndham Garden Escazú has an extensive wine selection at Restaurante El Cortijo and a fully international menu. Some of these hotels offer room service, an option that can still allow you to be mindful when eating. In the quiet of your room, enjoy the mountainous view of the Central Valley and connect with your plate.

How can mindfoodness be practiced? It is as simple as being mindful, present, slow and grateful at the time of eating your meal. A food journal is another way you can practice mindfoodness. By keeping track of your foods, you will start being more mindful about them. Not having your phone, or thinking about messages and emails to be answered is a huge step. Avoiding television, music, newspapers, books, computers, screens or other distracting stimuli is another must.

Savor each bite slowly and carefully. Focus on the textures, colors and feelings it gives you. Always be sitting down, calm and not in a rush. Prepare the table and the plate as if guests were coming. Use nice cutlery or flowers to set the mood to enjoy your meal more. Set the fork, knife or spoon down between each bite. Don’t rush! Savor each and every bite. Practice as often as you can!

If you are stepping outside the city, you will find yourself in peaceful environments to enjoy your food. Hacienda AltaGracia, Auberge Resorts Collection in Pérez Zeledón has a restaurant called Ambar that has a romantic and dim lighted restaurant where a variety of local and international dishes are served. Up in the volcano skirts of Rincón de la Vieja at Buena Vista Lodge’s La Montaña Restaurant you will be served organic and sustainable food that is a delightful way of practicing mindfoodness. Casa Turire in Turrialba offers beautifully decorated plates offering authentic Costa Rican food in a friendly environment. Swiss inspired and themed Hotel Los Héroes in Arenal Lake is another recommendation of places to relax and fully enjoy a great tico meal. Lastly, make sure you check out Río Celeste Hideaway Hotel’s restaurant Kantala, also in Arenal Lake. The space is surrounded by gardens and the open air dining experience is unique.

You might be visiting the beach during your stay in Costa Rica, were often restaurants offer a beautiful view, offering a chance to relax even more when eating. Don’t get completely distracted! Continue focusing on connecting with your plate and all the elements in it, but also enjoy the amazing view. It is possible you are served a mix of tropical fruits, another colorful dish: vivid amber orange papaya, bright yellow mango, fresh red watermelon and white yellow banana. It is also likely that you are surrounded by the trees that gave life to these same fruits you are eating. Be present.

In Uvita Beach, Hotel Cristal Ballena’s bar and restaurant Pura Vida serves international dishes and fresh cocktails right in front of the ocean. It provides a sunset view that is unique. Karahé Beach Resort in Manuel Antonio has a restaurant called Canto del Mar which serves beautiful arrangements of seafood and other typical dishes which will delight and enhance your mindfoodness experience.

Capitán Suizo is one of the first boutique hotels in Tamarindo located in front of the bay. It restaurant El Barco is surrounded by tropical gardens with exotic trees and the sound of ocean waves. Mondays and Wednesdays they have marimba music to create a unique ambience. The Asturian chef is always updating recipes with his European influence.

At Místico Arenal Hanging Bridges Park or Rainforest Adventures Costa Rica you can enjoy a nice lunch in the middle of a huge biological corridor that has hundreds of birds, insects, trees, flowers and plants. Visiting any of thiese two regions, you can easily start to practice mindfulness. The lush nature is everywhere. You are surrounded by green in all its shades and forms and your mind will start to wind down little by little. Take a long hike in the rainforest! By the time you sit down to eat, you will naturally find yourself grateful for the food in your plate. Make sure to enjoy every bite.

Last but not least, to make the most out of your wellness trip, make sure you rent a car. If you are looking to explore the different corners of Costa Rica, we recommend Europcar and Solid Car Rental for your adventure to be more comfortable and entertaining.

Additionally, we also recommend several travelling agencies: Amadeus Travel Agency, Cast Costa Rica, Costa Rica For All, Discovery Travel, Just Travel  Costa Rica and Vacation City. Ara Tours, Tam Travel and Swiss Travel offer tailored packages which can be wellness and gastronomy oriented, including a combination of nature, yoga, healthy home made meals, thermal waters, spa treatments, and meditation areas.

Costa Rica is a great destination to start mindfully eating. Not only does the view slow you down, but also the majority of cooks and chefs put a lot of passion and healthy ingredients into the plates being served to visitors. Costa Ricans are proud about serving and giving the best to the people who visit the country and food is a big element. So go ahead, take your time to enjoy every bite of your casado!

Gabriela Mateo