The Takeaway: Create a calm, relaxed, attentive space to ENJOY meals!
I eat more when I am stressed. I eat more when I am distracted. I eat more when I am running out the door on my way to work, standing and eating, multitasking, watching tv, and worried about something. Not only do I eat more, but I regret when the food is gone because I barely noticed that I ate it! I enjoy my food much more, and eat the right amount (being satiated, not stuffed is important to me), when I take the time to sit down and really enjoy my food. Living in Japan has taught me about the importance of presentation, atmosphere, and gratitude for every meal. Am I perfect every time? Not even close. Am I better at intuitive eating when I make an effort to appreciate my food and where it comes from? Definitely. To me, intuitive eating is eating what my body, not my brain, needs for proper nourishment, easily and naturally, without worrying about calories, control, or any other cares.
It’s time to start setting ourselves up for success. Creating a great atmosphere for our meal means we will be more content with our food. It helps us to eat the right amount for our body and gives us the breathing room to make good choices. Sometimes a moment’s pause is all I need to stop from reaching for food that I don’t need to eat.
Actions – breathe deeply, sit down to eat, take a moment to express gratitude for your food, create a nourishment menu
Remember, take it slow and break it down into small steps. First, focus on moving away from “eating on the run”. Sit at the table, or at least sit down and eat. Then turn off the tv while you eat, or eliminate other distractions one by one. Enjoy the company of others, or if you are alone, listen to a podcast. Take the time to connect with the food on your plate.
A nourishment menu has been extremely helpful for me to realize the difference between physical hunger and emotional hunger. I first learned about it from a talk my brother Joe, of Feeling Terrific health coaching, did on sugar. Reading it over helps me take a moment to breathe, stop and think. Why do I want to eat right now? Am I physically hungry? Is it an emotional craving? It’s ok if you eat even if you aren’t hungry. Don’t beat yourself up, because that makes it worse and perpetuates the cycle. Just become more aware of your true hunger signals and other factors that might be driving you to eat.
Watch the video from Joe, and then create your own nourishment menu. Here is a list of the things that nourish me:
1. Deep Breathing
3. make a gratitude list
4. random acts of kindness
6. Smile & Sing
8. channel energy into clutter free habits
9. find something new to admire in the immediate environment
10. give away something important/share
11. write a heartfelt letter or note
12. donate time or money
14. send a card or care package
15. find a way to inspire someone else or make them feel better
16. Read previous blog posts
Having a nourishment menu will help you differentiate between true hunger and other cravings. Joe has also generously shared some amazingly helpful documents on mindful eating. They are all only a page or less, but it might help to digest them slowly and focus on only one at a time.