I believe in biodiversity, never in a one size fits all approach to dieting and healthy living.
Once you learn how to listen to your body and recognizing how it reacts to certain foods, you will feel so empowered when choosing what to fuel it with to feel your best. Connecting with our bodies can feel foreign or uncomfortable after a lifetime of being immersed in a a society of body shaming and feeling like you’re never enough.
Eating anything with intention and a feeling of empowerment is much healthier than eating with a restrictive and punitive mindset, no matter what the food is.
Next time you have the option to eat something you might consider unhealthy or “bad” for your body, try saying YES to that food while switching your mindset and recognize your feelings when taking that first bite. Tell yourself that you are choosing to eat this food because you love the taste, texture, smell and the enjoyment that comes with this bite. Be WITH your food and really notice the taste, texture, smell and gratitude that comes with that first bite. You might start to realize that you don’t feel the need to finish that entire bag of chips, or you might decide to put half of that slice of cake back in the fridge for another time. With a restrictive and punitive mindset, we might think if we sit down to a “cheat meal” with the intention that we are being bad, then we might as well overindulge because it will be awhile before we allow this food into our diet and we’ve already failed so why not push it to the max. We might even can attack ourselves for cheating and sabotage any healthy eating efforts by just finishing off the day or weekend with a junk food binge. Even if we took just one bite and left with a feeling of guilt or shame, we are just adding another layer of stress to our mind. We see the dangers of stress in our own lives and in the world we live in so what is the benefit of subjecting ourselves to extra stress?
The same reasons apply when we are choosing to eat healthy. How often are your meals based on a restrictive mindset like only eating this food because it’s healthy and not because you enjoy it? Eating with intention can be a beautiful approach when deciding to eat something nutritious. Take a moment to understand why you are choosing to eat this food. Notice the colours, the texture, the taste and how it makes you feel. You might be surprised when tasting a food for the first time with intention. The first time I experienced this was with a raw almond. I took one almond, admired the texture, and tried to connect to how this almond came to be in my hand. Where did it grow? How far did it travel? Who was involved? What was involved? How am I so lucky to have this abundance of almonds already shelled and ready for me to eat at my will? I took a bite. I admired the texture and the smoothness of the white flesh and noticed the sweet creamy texture as I chewed that bite. Almonds are sweet! Before that moment, almonds had a completely different taste to me. I would always eat them mindlessly with the only reason being that they were good for my health. I wasn’t enjoying the full experience of the almond and completely taking it for granted. With a little mindful eating, I now realize almonds are simply delicious and can experience whole food in an entirely new light.
Convenience and an abundance of choices has helped wash away many of our inner appreciation for simple and whole foods. If you are reading this, then you are among those that live in a privileged society. We have grocery stores stocked full of fresh produce year round and loads of packaged convenience foods available for cheap. We are disconnected from our food on so many levels. We rarely stop to think of the journey our food has taken before it ends up in our mouths and it is easily taken it for granted.
The human mind is so powerful! Mindful eating is available to you every single day. Challenge yourself to eat mindfully with intention just for one meal. Note how you feel and how the food tastes. Be grateful for every bite. Try and connect with your food. Try not to judge your food choices and allow yourself to enjoy. The more you practice mindful eating, the more you can start a deeper connection with your body. You might start to recognize some foods your body doesn’t react well to. You might start to understand your cravings and how your body reacts when you satisfy those cravings. You might start to make a connection to what emotions trigger your cravings. Each day is an opportunity to be kinder and more forgiving to ourselves. Treat your body like you would treat your best friend because you are together until your last breath.