Did you wake up today asking, “what do I feel like eating this morning?” or did you start the day with a set of food rules? Can you honor your hunger? Feel your fullness? Challenge the food police, respect your body? Where are pleasure and satisfaction in your food choices and mealtime experiences?
I bring this up today as we look forward to Thanksgiving and the ensuing days of family gatherings, holiday parties and celebration. These occasions often stir up feelings which can trigger either restricting (in response to guilt) or binge behaviors (as a direct result of feeling deprived). Restricting food we desire and feeling bad when we eat it is commonplace. Taking pleasure in food is often described as indulging; and doing so in front of others with gusto is often interpreted as gluttony. What’s missing from this scenario is satisfaction…and we become aware of being satisfied and satiated only when we are present and mindful of the experience. This is true in everything we do…food, relationships and career- if we aren’t satisfied we aren’t happy. Abraham Maslow teaches that we are driven by our unmet needs. We want what we can’t have and will do whatever it takes to address and calm down the sense of deprivation that shows up when our needs are not satisfied. When it comes to food and you want Mom's fabulous cornbread stuffing, broccoli isn't going to do the trick. Alternately, if you want the broccoli but eat the stuffing because it's a "cheat" day and you may as well go all the way, you won't be satisfied either.
When you think about improving your relationship to, and experience with food, it becomes easier when you learn to be present with and grateful for the food you choose to eat. To eat mindfully, you need to slow down and pay attention to every bite. It’s important that your choices come from a place that honors your hunger and the pleasurable experience you want from the meal. By truly tasting what you’re eating and noticing the subtle flavors and textures, you can begin to relate to food and your body in a healthier way. What ensues is the satisfaction you’ll feel when you honor your hunger and allow for the realization that you’ve had enough.
Honor yourself by allowing for pleasure from the bounty of the season, let joy envelop you at and away from the table and know that you CAN be trusted to know what’s right for your body. All you need to do is slow down, quiet the noise of messages from a past that has no future and simply listen.