What is your relationship with food? Do you love it, hate it or both? Do you feel like your food controls you rather than you controlling it?
Chances are that if you are reading this article you would like to improve your relationship with food.
As a society we have developed bad eating habits. Some of yours may include:
Eating on the go
Eating whilst working
Eating something when you’re not hungry
Eating something just because it’s there
Eating because it’s “time”
Eating because it’s convenient
Eating something that you didn’t really want
Eating until it’s all gone rather than stopping when full
Thinking or doing other things whilst eating e.g. watching tv, talking, “on the go”, thinking about what's next on your agenda for the day
Feeling guilty for eating
Eating too fast
Eating in this way can cause overeating, poor health, weight gain and a hell of a lot of guilt!
Did you know that the food industry actually encourages us to eat more and more? In this article "Food Cravings Engineered by the Industry” it describes how the food industry uses science and clever marketing to identify what attracts us to food and what will make us eat more! We have learned bad eating habits and we have bought into the food industries techniques for making us eat more and more. No wonder we have an epidemic of obesity on our hands, along with the increase in digestive issues and food allergies.
So maybe you are one of those people who has developed a love-hate relationship with food? Maybe you were never taught how to have a healthy and respectful attitude to food?
The GOOD NEWS is that you can teach yourself how to change your relationship with food to a positive one by becoming familiar with Mindful Eating. Want to know more? Then read on…
Mindful Eating is learning how to pay full attention to your body and what it actually wants and being totally in the moment whilst eating along with savouring all the great qualities of the food.
Here are some steps that you can take to help you develop a better relationship with food and eat mindfully:
If you feel like you need something to eat, before you reach for the nearest thing to hand, drink a large glass of water. If after 20 minutes you still feel hungry then check in with yourself on these things:
What are you hungry for?
What does your mouth, stomach, body and mind want?
Use all of your senses to choose what you want to eat remembering to choose food that is both satisfying to you and nourishing to your body.
When you have recognised that you are truly hungry and decided what you want to eat then it is important to carry on being mindful whilst preparing and eating your food:
When preparing meals make sure you are not in a hurry or in a bad mood - prepare meals with love.
Feel gratitude for the food on your plate.
When you eat make sure that that is all you do; don’t watch TV, don’t work, don’t walk – just eat and enjoy!
Eat slowly and savour the moment and the experience of eating.
Take your time and use your senses to the full, notice the sight, the colours, the smell, taste, texture, temperature.
Acknowledge your responses to food (likes, dislikes or neutral).
Chew food well.
Put your knife and fork down between each mouthful.
Constantly check in with your body to see whether you are full yet.
Stop eating when you are full.
Taking these things into consideration whilst eating will help you enjoy your food more and change your relationship with food to a positive one.
I know that this may all appear to be rather a long-winded process just to get some food inside you, and I agree it does. But as with anything, when you are creating new habits the more you do it the more automatic it becomes. If you keep repeating this action over and over again you will build those neural pathways in your brain so that it becomes an automatic process and it won't take any conscious effort to do it any more.
Please note, that it is important not to deprive yourself if you are truly hungry. If you resist the urge to eat then you are more likely to become ravenous and eat the first thing that comes into view whether it’s a healthy option or not. Eating should be a pleasurable experience, filled with love and gratitude not one that is filled with hate, worry and guilt.
I have attached a poster here that you can stick your fridge door to remind you how to eat mindfully.
If you would like to know more about mindful eating check out the book “Mindful Eating: Free Yourself from Overeating and Other Unhealthy Relationships with Food” by Jan Chozen Bays. In her book she explains how the art of mindfulness can transform your struggles with food and renew your sense of pleasure, appreciation, and satisfaction with eating. She provides exercises that will help you:
Tune into your body's own wisdom about what, when, and how much to eat
Eat less while feeling fully satisfied
Identify your habits and patterns with food
Develop a more compassionate attitude toward your struggles with eating
Discover what you're really hungry for
There is also a CD included in the book containing meditations that will help you keep your focus on how to really enjoy your food.
Check out my weight loss web page to find out how I can help you.
Disclaimer: Always consult with your doctor before embarking on any weight loss programme.