There is SO much more to healthy eating than chowing down on the ‘right’ foods all day everyday. Far more important than what you eat is why you eat and how you eat. With that in mind, here’s my top 5 ways to improve your relationship with food and get a bod you love – no diet plans or calorie counting in sight (yay!).
01. Eat because you love yourself and your body.
I think of this in terms of what I would feed a child I loved. A child whose health was of utmost importance to me. There’s no way I’d give them junky processed food or sugary treats. For me, eating because I love myself means choosing food that will nourish me and leave me feeling energised and calm. The take home message: don’t feed yourself anything you wouldn’t be willing to feed someone whose health you deeply cared about.
02. Ask yourself ‘What am I really hungry for?’.
Unless there is some kind of addiction at play (my sugar addiction is an example!), a lot of eating behaviour can be driven by emotion. When you’re diving back into the freezer for that second helping of ice-cream, stop and ask yourself ‘what am I really hungry for?’ ‘what emotion or feeling is driving my behaviour?’. Maybe you’re hankering for a moment of peace and quiet or seeking warmth and comfort. Perhaps eating is distracting you from experiencing hurt or sadness. Could it be boredom? Food is not the solution here.
I used to reach for snacks when I was restless or bored. With a little reflection, I realised I was really hankering for a bit of movement! Now I head to my yoga mat or outside for a walk with my dog and feel a million times better for it. If you eat when you’re not really hungry or can’t seem to curb snacking after dinner, think about what it is that your soul is hungry for in that moment. If you’re stressed, a 5 minute meditation provides much more effective relief than chocolate. If you’re hurt or upset, a warm bath or a chat with your bestie is will soothe you more than pizza ever could. Pay attention, tune in, and give that soul of yours some nourishing too.
03. Eat with the intention to be seen.
This is something Geneen Roth talks about in her books and lectures that really resonated for me. Think about it: if you had a someone with you, would you pull into the drive through on the way home from work? Perhaps not. Would you polish off a whole packet of Tim Tams with someone peering over your shoulder? Doubt it. Because I don’t love the idea of eating to please other people, I eat with the intention to be seen by myself as an objective observer, a fly-on-the-wall. I don’t want to see myself mindlessly snacking all day or picking up a bag of chips when I fill up my car with petrol – so I don’t. Eating with the intention to be seen should urge you to choose nourishing foods and eat in a calm environment - perfect if your eating behaviour is erratic or you're prone to overdoing it when you're home alone.
04. Eat without distraction.
Enjoying your food is an entertaining experience in itself! There’s so much to taste, smell, and look at that you really don’t need to have the TV on or your phone in your hand. Treat eating as an experience to be relished! By focusing on your food, you will eat until you are satisfied, not stuffed. You will appreciate subtle flavours instead of craving food full or salt, sugar or favour enhancers like MSG. You will begin to tune in to what foods make you feel awesome and what foods might be making you feel a bit bleh. Your body knows what’s good for you so make sure you’re listening to what it’s trying to tell you.
5. Chew your food properly.
Once you start to pay attention to your chewing, you’ll realise how little you’re actually chewing your food (try not to freak out). If you suffer from bloating, indigestion, or gas the fix may be as simple as consciously munching until your food is liquid before swallowing – big chunks of half chewed food give the stomach and intestines a much harder job! Chewing properly slows down your eating and gives your body a chance to recognise when it’s had enough – no more food babies for you!
Which one of these tips can you put into practice today? I guarantee you'll notice the change in your approach to eating - and be amazed at the impact of a seemingly small shift.