How is your relationship with food? There's wisdom in the saying that, "You are what you eat." Indeed, 95% of our body's composition (and much of our health) is owed to what we put in our mouths.
However, eating isn’t as simple as we think it is. Although it’s a natural/biological mechanism that makes us feel hungry, physical hunger alone isn't necessarily the reason WHY we eat. At times, we reach for food to soothe anxiety and stress, to fill a void, to cope with boredom or tiredness, and even to ward off unwanted emotions like sadness or insecurity, and to satisfy other types of emotional lack.
While we need food to sustain us throughout the day and fuel our body so that we can function, our eating habits can mean our doom as well – if we aren’t mindful. So, have you really thought about your relationship with food?
Intuitive eating is essential to our quest for mindful living. You can’t fill an emotional void with food. And if you can help it, food shouldn’t be used to be your emotional first aid. If you have such a relationship with food, then eating will make you feel good ONLY in the moment. But, the emotion that prompted eating would still be there after you ate, thus, leaving you guilty and frustrated for having eaten so much.
As TOWL (True Organic Wise Living) is all about mindful living, toxin-free lifestyles, physical and spiritual health, we want to provide guidance and support for improving your happiness and health in regards to all things, including eating. Visit our shop for other health-related items we have for sale!
Our food habits and their direct/obvious result to our health (e.g. weight or shape) will have an impact on our self-image. As you see, this easily leads to a vicious cycle: negative emotions, reaching for food to feel good, feeling guilt later on for eating too much, having a low self-image (due in part to poor food choices), having negative emotions, reaching for food (again), and so on.
Surely this looks like a grim picture, but there’s hope. Eating healthy is one of the tricks to being happy with yourself. A healthy food lifestyle can actually raise your spirits and boost your mood.
Begin your journey towards happy eating
1) Forget the weight-loss "diet" mentality. Treating food like a “technical tool” in achieving your desired weight/shape is not a great perspective to begin with. Dieting has a very short-term connotation and is the opposite of intuitive eating – which is a healthy food habit that you’d want to cultivate as long as you live. “Eating is bad” is the idea you want to get rid of.
2) Listen to your body when it’s hungry. Eat only when you’re hungry (not when craving) and stop once your body is satiated. This is a way of respecting hunger and fullness.
3) Eat slowly. Pause between bites by setting your spoon down on the table. This gives your body time to detect that it’s satiated. It takes your body 20 minutes to realize that it’s full. Eating slowly also improves digestion. Be more sensitive to cues: when hungry, eat. By doing this you don’t overeat later on when you’re famished.
4) Be present with the food that is in front of you. Put your Smartphone away, turn off your TV, and avoid setups that distract you. Just focus on your food: the taste, the texture, the smell, the color.
5) Don’t overload your plate. You are compelled to finish it when you do. Begin with a lesser amount. Reload later when you still feel you need to eat.
6) Tune in to your own body. Choose foods that honor your health and your unique needs. Eat foods that make you feel your best.
7) Give yourself permission. Nobody is perfect and you can’t make every choice perfect. Allow yourself some “lapses.” Health is about little choices we make about food that add up over time. But food is not ONLY nutrition. Enjoy treats every now and then and allow that as part of your eating style: permit yourself to bake something, eat some chocolates with a loved one, or eat some chips when hanging out with friends. You can leave room for that little pleasure. There’s no use in trying to be perfect. Free your mind from judgment and guilt about eating. Don’t be too hard on yourself: it’s not black and white.
8) Respect your body. Recognize that everyone’s body is different. Naturally, everyone looks a different way: you’re different from the next person. Your body makeup and the way your physiology responds to situations are different, too. Shift your perspective from feeling like you need to have a certain body shape or to look a certain way. Be fascinated by your body and simply appreciate what it does for you every single day: your feet and arms work, you’re able to breathe, you have organs inside your body that’re functioning as they should. Your body is so intelligent; take a moment to appreciate the one that you have. Shift away from fearing food and from being pressured to have a certain shape. DON’T punish yourself after eating. Instead, increase the appreciation of foods that you’ve mindfully chosen for your body’s needs.
Simple steps to begin intuitive eating
Choosing to eat wisely and happily can be a real struggle at the beginning. To help with your first steps:
1- Keep rehearsing positive self-evaluating statements:
"I acknowledge that I’m overeating. I need to think about how I can stop this pattern."
"What triggered my emotional eating? I need to understand it so I can create a plan to better handle it when I encounter the trigger again."
"Is this just a craving or is my stomach really hungry? I’ll wait and see if this feeling passes."
2- Manage your eating habits:
A food diary will help you keep a record of:
- What food you ate
- Situations when you eat
- How you’re eating (quickly, mindlessly, or leisurely) and how you feel when you're eating; and
- What you’re doing while you’re eating
Your journal helps you to see more clearly what you’re eating and why.
What then should your relationship with food be?
You can start by approaching food mindfully and selecting them more consciously. Eat to heal and nourish your body. Use food to restore your energy --both body and mind.
Eat because your heart is full and happy.
Finally, it will do us well to always remember this: Feed yourself with love.
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