This is part 2 of the mindful eating series. If you missed part 1, click here.
The best way to describe what it means to have a healthy relationship with food is to talk about having an unhealthy relationship with food.
A person’s relationship with food falls on a spectrum. It can be on the extreme end as an eating disorder. Maybe you’re an emotional eater. Some people eat just because it’s there or feel like they have to eat everything on their plate. And what I hear most commonly is that people feel that they should eat “healthy” foods and they shouldn’t eat “unhealthy” foods.
The little negative things you say to yourself about food can suggest an unhealthy relationship with food. Take this quiz to see where your relationship with food falls on the spectrum.
Remember that mindful eating helps you become attuned to your body’s physical and mental feelings. And accepting that those feelings are okay. You will learn how to listen to your body when it says I’m hungry or I’m full. And you will learn how different foods make you feel.
So how can mindful eating help you build a healthy relationship with food?
Mindful eating puts you in control of your food choices.
You become aware of everything you’re eating. If you’re practicing mindfulness, you can’t “accidentally” eat the whole bag of chips. You can’t say that the donuts were calling your name and you had to eat one. You are in charge of your food choices. You decide what you’re going to eat and how much you’re going to eat. Food does not control you.
Mindful eating reduces guilt associated with eating “bad” foods or eating too much.
By practicing mindful eating, you should be able to stop yourself (more often) prior to eating the foods or an amount of food that would make you feel guilty or have negative emotions. And when you do feel bad or guilty after eating, you can accept those feelings and learn from the experience.
Mindful eating helps you understand what’s driving you to eat.
Our natural instinct is to eat when we’re hungry and stop when we’re full. But we like to override that instinct. By listening to your body prior to eating, you may learn, for example, that you want sweets when you’re tired and salty foods when you’re bored. But are you hungry? And when you eat these foods, do you feel good? This will help you make smart choices when you eat.
Through mindful eating, I’ve learned how to find a balance between eating healthy and unhealthy foods. I truly believe that you can have everything in moderation. I eat healthy foods most of the time (and I enjoy eating healthy foods) because they simply make me feel good. And sometimes I eat unhealthy foods because they taste delicious and I enjoy every bite. But I know not to have too much because then I’ll feel bad.
If you can learn how different foods make you feel, in terms of energy, satisfaction, etc., then you’ll begin to crave the foods that make you feel good and not want the foods that don’t make you feel good.
Here’s your challenge for this week:
After each meal and snack, jot down whatever you ate. Then write how you feel.
For example, last night for dinner, I had chicken, potatoes, and veggies. I was so full, I was sick to my stomach, and I just wanted to go to sleep. This morning, on the other hand, I had oatmeal, fruit, and coffee. It tasted great, I was satisfied, not too full, and I felt ready to start my day.
Do you have a healthy relationship with food? What have you learned about yourself through practicing mindful eating? Share with me in the comments below.
This is part 2 of a mindful eating series. Click here to read part 1 and stay tuned for part 3: using mindful eating for weight loss.