March 16, 2021
Honor your body, honor your hunger
by Mona Jauhar RDN, LD
In an age where mealtimes are tethered to screen time and our hunger fastened to new fangled diets, the act of mindful eating sounds refreshing. How often do we really savor a flavor, take time to chew every bite or reminisce a meal we had? How consciously do we try to make family repasts a time for strengthening bonds? We have forgotten to honor food and our bodies and hence what we eat has no positive payoffs. Instead we body shame ourselves and others.
A way of life, not diets
Mindful and intuitive eating practices are not diets. They are mindsets that require you to trust your natural instincts and listen to your body’s hunger and fullness cues. Mindful eating is about rethinking food choices and practices; going back to traditional ways of eating and engaging your senses by noticing colors, smells, sounds, textures, and taste. It is the process of paying attention to your actual eating experience without judgement, it helps you become aware of the reasons behind your hunger like emotions, lack of food, tradition, schedule and more and hence break free from disordered eating patterns or food obsession.
To begin with, trust your instincts, and your body’s instincts. It is constantly telling you what it needs, what and when to eat and drink, when to rest and sleep. But your senses are fogged by diet plans and fitness fads. While you are constantly looking for cues and cures outside, all the answers lie within. Work your way up to eating mindfully every day, and forgive yourself when you don’t. It can take weeks, months so be patient with yourself, and enjoy the process of building a stronger mind-body connection and improving your relationship to food. Here are the next few steps:
- Honor hunger: Keep your body biologically fed with adequate energy and carbohydrates. Once you reach the moment of excessive hunger, all intentions of moderate, conscious eating are fleeting and irrelevant.
- Don’t eat for the wrong reasons: Get in touch with your feelings and don’t let food become an excuse for not dealing with emotions such as anger, anxiety, or loneliness.
- Cook sometimes: Cooking for yourself is the best way to prepare your body to eat mindfully. When you are preparing food, the sights and smells ignite the part of your brain that readies your body to accept nourishment.
- Sit down with gratitude: Go back to the olden days of sitting down and relishing your food. Take a deep breath, center yourself, and give yourself permission to eat as much as you want and enjoy the food in front of you. Express gratitude for all of the people who had a hand in growing and making your food, including yourself.
- Make peace with food: Buy foods you feel like eating. Listen to your food cravings, it is alright to indulge every once in a while.
- Stop when full: Listen for the body signals that tell you that you are no longer hungry. Observe the signs that show that you’re comfortably full.
- Develop a mealtime ritual: Take every meal seriously and plan it in advance. This may include setting the table, or turning on some relaxing music to enjoy during the meal.
- The Center for Mindful Eating - Home.The Center for Mindful Eating - Home. http://thecenterformindfuleating.org/.Accessed March 4, 2017.
- Tribole E, Resch E. Intuitive eating. New York: St. Martin’s Griffin; 2012.