Change Your Relationship With Food: Listen to Your Body
You may have heard of the mind/body connection on the yoga mat but another place where the connection can be useful is at the dinner table. When eating out, some people tend to put aside eating healthy and overeat and overindulge instead. Usually, this is a result of a disconnect between the brain (mind) and stomach (body).
Developing a mind-body connection to create healthy eating habits in any situation takes practice and slowing down. How does one listen to her body? Quite simply, it involves an internal conversation.
First, tap into how you’re feeling in that moment. Ignore habit or conditioning and focus on the differences between true physical hunger, satisfaction and fullness. Over time, begin to identify how each feels for you and which you’re feeling in any given moment.
Here are some scenarios where listening to your body can be helpful.
Eating by the Clock: We’re conditioned to eat meals by the clock or else when bored. But just because it’s Noon doesn’t mean it’s lunchtime. What does your stomach say? Are you actually hungry or still satisfied from breakfast? Eat only when you’re hungry. Try this: Next time you feel hunger, hang out with it for a bit. Get familiar with your own signs and symptoms of hunger. You’ll begin to know when it’s hunger, boredom or thirst your body is feeling.
Because It Tastes So Good: We’ve all had the experience of eating something that tastes so good it’s hard to stop. Typically, this happens when we put food to mouth almost mechanically without much awareness. It’s common when eating in front of the computer or television. Try this: slow down to savor the taste, smell and texture of the delicious food. Using all your sense to eat is an effective way to combat the impulse to eat more than you need.
Satisfying a Craving: Cravings are a sign of imbalance. Either they happen because your body needs to balance something it just ate like sweet with salty, your body is lacking a certain nutrient or you’re feeling a specific emotion. For example, they’re common when we’ve had a bad day or feel bored or stressed. Try this: Rather than giving in to a craving right away, get curious about it. Ask yourself, what it is you’re really craving like comfort, if you may be thirsty or if there’s something your body may be missing.
The Clean Plate Club: If you were raised as a member of The Clean Plate Club, you may feel an overwhelming desire to clean your plate at every meal. As an adult, nobody is holding you to that rule. It takes 20 minutes for the stomach to alert the brain that it’s full. For many, that’s often too late. Try this: Slow down while you eat and be mindful of when you start feeling satisfied. That’s your cue to stop. With some practice, it will become second nature to know when to stop eating before you get too full.
In which of these areas do you struggle and how can you apply the principles of listening to your body to become a smarter eater?