There are two types of people in the world: those who eat to live and those who live to eat. The strong-willed people in the former category see food as fuel. They’re the ones who can munch on egg whites and plain grilled chicken for ‘sustenance’ without losing the will to live. Then, there are the foodies (my people!). We tend to eat for enjoyment and because let’s face it, food is pretty damn delicious! Now, there’s no right or wrong way to eat. But the people in the first group can lose the enjoyment of food, while the second group may tie eating to their emotions. Neither of these approaches lead to a particularly healthy relationship with food. So, I’d like to propose a third category that falls somewhere in the middle — eating for self-love! It’s not about overindulging or eating just to survive, but rather listening to your body and nourishing it with food. So, while you’re practicing all your other Sunday self-love rituals, why not add eating to the list? Here’s how:
Use your intuition
A big part of practicing self-care is listening to your body. This means trusting your body to tell you when and what it wants to eat. Often when you’ve got a hankering for a particular food, your body is trying to tell you what it needs. For example, if you’re cravingsomething salty, a piece of fruit generally isn’t going to hit the spot. That’s not to say you should scoff down a burgerevery time your body tells you it needs a burger. But use your hunger cues to help you eat intuitively, rather than just ignoring them.
We’ve written before about how practicing gratitude can make you happier and more productive. In her book, The Healthy Life, nutritionist Jessica Sepel explains how this can be applied to eating.
I hate to sound like an airy-fairy health preacher, but the word ‘gratitude’ can change your life. Try it. Before you eat, take a moment to think about where the food came from and how lucky you are to have access to it. Food is a gift: it gives your heart, hormones, brain and cells the nutrients they need to function.
Often when we start trying to eat healthy, the first thing we do is cut out certain ‘unhealthy’ foods. But this is quite a negative approach to food and it can often backfire and lead to bingeing! Rather than thinking about foods you should ban from your diet, focus on what you can add in. Maybe there’s a vegetable you don’t usually eat or an exotic fruityou’ve been meaning to try? Being experimental with your diet will help reframe eating into a positive, nurturing experience.
Use your senses
Don’t forget, you have five senses! They should all be used when you eat — not just taste! The following advice from Jessica Sepel will help you become more mindful during your meals.
Look at your food. Taste it. Smell it. Appreciate it. And chew, chew, chew! The plate is not going anywhere, By doing this, your brain will recognise satiety (fullness) and you’ll be less likely to overeat. Remember that food is abundant.
Make it a ritual
When we eat our meals in front of the TV (or Netflix!), we tend to mindlessly inhale our food. Not only can this make you consume more kilojoulesand lead to indigestion, it also stops you from actually enjoying your food. A great self-love technique is to make a big deal of every meal. Turn off any distractions, set the table and actually focus on what you’re eating. If you’re sitting down for a meal with family, friends or your partner — great! Just make sure you actually savour every mouthful as well as enjoying their company.
Practice positive affirmations
Affirmations are fantastic for releasing negative thoughts and repogramming your behaviour. They helped me to overcome my anxiety around food. Remember, stress and anxiety impacts our digestion of food. I often tell my clients to ‘fake it till you make it,’ because thinking good thoughts about food doesn’t come naturally to most women. But if you keep saying your affirmations, they will become a reality. Try these: ‘This plate of food is so good for me,’ ‘My body knows how to use this food,’ and ‘My cells are about to be nourished with so much goodness.
-Nutritionist Jessica Sepel
Need some more affirmation inspiration? There’s 30 to choose from here.