Many people who are unhappy with their body, weight, or size spend too much time beating themselves up over what they ate, what they feel like eating or even what others eat. This cycle of food hatred can go for years at a time, causing anxiety, depression and a horrible feeling of isolation and hopelessness. Thankfully, there is hope and this awful relationship with food doesn’t have to last forever. Here is my step-by-step guide to initiate your long-lost healthy relationship with food and yourself.
Although emotions can negatively affect the way we eat, connecting to the right emotions when we are eating anything can help develop an appreciation for the food in front of us. This is all done by working on our mindful eating. This isn’t about dieting, or restricting food. Rather, it is about making your experience with eating satisfying.
1. Be in full control of what is on your plate
It all begins with what you have access to – in your pantry, fridge, freezer or office desk drawers. If you have food that you don’t think are nourishing for your body, get rid of them. This makes them not so accessible and easy to reach for. Start developing better shopping habits so you always have access to items that nourish your body.
2. Sit back and unwind
Sometimes, eating just feels like another chore. Do you find yourself rushing through your day and scoffing down food whenever you get a minute? Or perhaps you find yourself having enough time, but you mindlessly stare at your TV, phone or tablet without realizing what you’re eating or how much of it. Healing your relationship with food begins with having full focus on your food, without any distractions. Take a minute to breathe and relax before beginning to eat – this can help you eat slowly and savour each mouthful, truly giving your body the chance to feel replenished.
3. Let hunger guide you
It is easy to fall into a cycle of emotional eating, or thinking that you need to eat a certain amount of meals per day. Rather than setting a strict schedule and eating because ‘you have to’, let your hunger guide you. Ask yourself: am I really hungry? Do I feel faint or light headed? Am I actually thirsty? Listen to your body and let those thoughts be your guide. Don’t wait until you’re starved, but don’t eat just because there’s food around, either. When you grab something to eat, ask yourself why you want it. This will help prevent unwarranted snacking and excessive weight gain.
4. Use your senses
Our body has amazing abilities, including the ability to hear, smell, see, touch and taste. Eating isn’t just about taste – to have a positive relationship with eating, we need to utilize all 5 senses to truly satisfy our body with food. When you’re eating, take notice of the smell, colour and shape of your food. Be mindful of the noises you hear (steaming, sizzling, maybe even popping). And finally, when you take that bite, pay full attention to the flavours and textures of the food – and savour that mouthful for as long as you can.
5. Be grateful
Take a moment to appreciate that you have access to healthy, clean and nourishing food. Acknowledge the time you put into creating your meals; recognize how your food was made, where it came from, and how it nourishes your body. This simple attitude for gratitude will help you develop a greater respect for food.
Taking some time out to focus on our eating will benefit our whole body. Taking deep breaths, being aware of our environment, thinking positive thoughts and taking our time to eat will heal the relationship we have with eating. Food is more than just fuel, it is something that you relish and that nourishes you. So stop beating yourself up about what you’re eating, because it’s how we eat that truly matters.