There was a time when I stuffed my face with junk food and fast food on a daily basis. I was overweight and unhealthy, addicted to snacks and fried and fatty food, and would mindlessly overeat.

This wasn’t a healthy way of eating. What I ate (junk) was a big part of it, but just as big a part was how I ate — emotionally and mindlessly. These bad eating habits built up over time, after years of eating to socialise, to relieve stress, to make myself feel better, to satisfy cravings.

When I finally started changing my eating habits, I realised how bad things were. I realised how hard it was to change, simply because eating was filling so many needs, and because I ate mostly without thinking.

The biggest change I made: I learned to pay attention. I paid attention to what I ate, the textures and flavours, how it made me feel during and after eating. I paid attention to my eating urges, to the emotions that triggered the eating.

The changes came slowly, but paying attention turned out to be the key habit change. Once I made this change, other changes finally happened, after years of trying.

I take a very simple approach. Simply put, my approach to mindful eating is learning to pay attention. Instead of eating mindlessly, putting food into my mouth almost unconsciously, not really tasting the food I’m eating … I notice my thoughts, feelings, and sensations.

This is a skill, a form of meditation really, that you don’t just acquire overnight. It takes practice, and there will be times when you forget to eat mindfully, and there will be starts and stops. But with practice and attention, you can become very good at this.

I have had to learn with my intolerances which hasn’t been easy. I have had to change my whole diet. The first 6 months were hell. But I came through it. I now cook everything from scratch so that I can avoid gluten, lactose, chilli, curry, capsicum, onion, soya, and other things.

Going out can be a real challenge. Some of the gluten free dishes you can get in restaurants are not very good. I usually stick to meat and fish with vegetables or salads.

I’m still trying to find a happy balance but I think I now know what I can and can’t eat. The recipes on my blog are just some of my favourite dishes. I hope you like them as much as I do.