“Training in terms of being obedient to an external force has its place. But being obedient to and guided by our own internal experience --that’s the kind of training that brings well-grounded, long-lasting results.”
---excerpt from Beginning our Day- Abhayagiri Monastery
Ahh food. Micronutrients. Macronutrients. Organic. Non-GMO. Processed. Refined. Hydrogenated. Clarified. Super food. Empty calories. Meal planning. Gut microbiome. Probiotics. Prebiotics. Oils. Gluten-free. Paleo. Have I lost you yet?
I’ll be covering a lot of that stuff on this blog eventually. But for now, let’s forget about the ins and outs of the latest research on food and nutrition. Because eating to thrive isn’t necessarily about knowing all of that stuff. It’s about cultivating a healthy relationship with your body so that you won’t just need to eat nourishing foods, you’ll actually want to.
When I was in 7th grade, I was told by my friend’s step-dad that I had a very “large appetite,” and that he’s “never seen a young girl eat so much.” I remember politely laughing and putting down my fork, hardly eating anything the rest of the meal. I felt embarrassed, judged, and hurt by this man’s words. But I also felt extreme shame at my inability to control my “large appetite.” Frustrated and angry, I went home that night and devoured whatever I could find in my parent’s fridge to spite this man who had called me out so publicly. Such a seemingly small interaction has stuck with me and greatly impacted my relationship to my body and food.
Of all the relationships we have in our lives, our one with food is one of the most important. And just like any relationship, it takes hard work to maintain. I spent years at war with food; fluxing between binges and fad diets, weight gain and loss, and hating and loving my body. It wasn’t until I started practicing self-love and mindfulness was I able to stop caring about what other people thought of my eating habits and start eating for me.
As described in my previous blogpost on becoming your own best friend, giving yourself compassion can actually motivate behavior change and help promote healthy body image. By changing the tone of voice I used with myself, I no longer felt the need to self-sabotage by eating things I knew weren’t nourishing my soul. I also no longer gave into the pressure of thinking about what other people thought about my eating habits. Being able to have an open, healthy, loving conversation with myself on what I was needing in that moment was all it took to start eating and feeling better in my own skin. I still have moments of mindless eating and feel frustrated and guilty afterwards, but I am dedicated to my process throughout it all.
The research and resources on mindful eating are becoming more and more popular in today’s society, and for good reason! Mindfulness allows us the space to acknowledge our eating habits; when we might be eating something out of anger, sadness, or even happiness. Mindful eating allows us to notice how a certain food makes us feel, or recognize when we are full so we don’t overeat. For me, the most potent gift mindfulness has brought is the ability to “be guided by [my] internal experience” for “well-grounded, long-lasting results.”
To start eating to thrive today, begin to note your eating tendencies. Are there certain foods you reach for when you’re feeling extra emotional? Do you crave sweet foods when you’re sad or lonely? Salty foods when you’re angry? What’s something you could say to yourself to show unconditional love and understanding to those different emotions? Comment or message me your realizations!