Since the beginning of time, festivities and celebrations have involved food and lots of it! We can read in the history of occasions of music, dancing, and feasting going on for days. However, we do not have to look far back in history; we can see this same type of celebrating today.
It's safe to say food brings people together and adds to the pleasure of the occasion. And that is actually a very good and natural thing. Food is meant to nourish and give pleasure. It is pleasing to the senses and the soul. Take a moment to close your eyes and picture your favorite meal to share with your family.
Now feel all the emotions that accompany that meal. For me, it is good ole' mac and cheese with apple pie and ice cream for dessert and for Violet it is spaghetti and meatballs with blueberry cake. Just the thought of thought of our childhood potluck gatherings brings back such fond memories our family shared together around the dining room table.
The food, the smells, the conversation, and yes even the bickering is symbolic of our family togetherness. There is such nostalgia in many of these "food" memories that just take you home and feel loved without a care in the world. But what about outside of family gatherings and celebrations?
Our relationship with food and the emotions it can stir continues in our everyday life. But for some, good times where food is the main attraction brings an uneasy feeling, and can even be very stressful. So why can food also activate such negative feelings and emotions?
One key element is the meaning we have placed on food and the judgment we have placed on ourselves for the act of eating and enjoying it. Our stress level can also play a part with our emotional state while eating. So ask yourself, do I have a mental habit of worrying excessively about food choices? Do I stress over everything I eat?
If so, then it may take time to reverse this habit and form more positive thought patterns. But it is well worth the effort! Once we have given ourselves permission to enjoy and let go of any negative meaning we have created with food, we can then start building a strong foundation to form a healthy relationship with food and our body. Violet and I try to keep three key elements in mind before eating.
Be Thankful- Recognize, Relax.
Thankfulness is key; having a grateful attitude for the food you partake of. Recognize the care, love, and effort that went into the preparing the meal. Relaxation is important not only to enjoy our meal but also to properly digest and absorb nutrients.
Here are a few more helpful ways to get you moving in the right direction:
- Practice mindful eating. This means paying attention to the thoughts and feelings you are having while you eat. Truly savor your food, eat slowly and chew more - experience all the flavors and textures.
- Find what helps you relax prior to eating. Maybe play some music or diffuse essential oils. One very important and easy way to relax is to take five deep breaths prior to eating. Not only will you be more relaxed, but this will enhance your digestion as well.
- Develop the habit of putting your fork down between bites and enjoying the company of those around you. Even if you are alone, this practice will also aid in good digestion and help avoid overeating.
- Allow yourself flexible boundaries. Wanting to eat healthily is commendable, but too many restrictions can lead to anxious and obsessive thought patterns.
- When choosing what to eat, ask yourself two key questions - will I enjoy it and will it nourish me? The more food you choose that does both the healthier and happier you will be.
- If ever you do binge on unbecoming foods, don't make it worse by wallowing in guilt. This will only serve to deepen the pattern of anxiety and overeating. A good approach is simply to ask yourself what triggered it and what could I have done differently? Then anchor the new approach in by playing it out in your mind.
Remember, we all have a relationship with food. The goal should be to make it a healthy one. The thing about any relationship is that it is a two-way street. Do your part and make wise food choices when possible -- show gratitude, eat with joy and the food will do its part by supporting you physically, mentally and emotionally.
To your health & happiness, Violet & Lola White Iris Transformational Coaching & Wellness.