The other day I was sitting in an Italian restaurant eating a Burrata salad with baby spinach — it was delicious! There we’re two girls sitting at the table next to me, one was creating a video food journal, while the other was picking at her salad and talking about mine. I over heard her say “look at all that cheese,” then she sent her salad back and they left. I have to admit I was a little disturbed, they spend about half an hour talking about food and less than two minutes actually eating it.
I’ve always been the type of person that could eat anything and never gain weight (knock on wood), I’ve never been on a diet, and honestly I workout because I like to not because I have to. I love a good meal and I never skip dessert, but food for me serves one purpose, sustenance. Which is why I went through a bit of culture shock when I moved to L.A., where some people are borderline obsessed with being thin and eat (or don’t eat) with that goal in mind. I just couldn’t understand it, I still can’t. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with living a healthy lifestyle, but decisions about food shouldn’t consume most of your day. To eat or not to eat? It’s not a philosophical question. A better question: Do You Have a Healthy Relationship with Food? Thanks to MindBodyGreen here’s how to figure out if you do.
1. You eat real foods.
Give yourself permission to eat and enjoy as many real foods as you can. These are nutritionally dense foods that are found naturally in nature, with no processing and toxicity. Avoid fake foods as these have been heavily processed, so that your body does not even recognize them as food.
2. You buy foods that you like.
When shopping, let your intuition guide you as to what kind of real foods you should buy. Remember, no expert knows your body better than you. Choose foods that your body is drawn towards and let your natural instincts guide you toward real foods.
3. You eat in relaxing environments.
When you sit down to eat, make sure you feel relaxed. Anything that stresses you out will be a distraction to your eating process. If you need to reduce stress and distraction, it can be a good idea to turn off the television and put away your electronic devices. Whenever possible, I like to eat outside or play relaxing music. When you can eat in a relaxing environment, then your body can focus its’ energy on digestion and assimilation of nutrients.
4. You give thanks for your food.
Let your food nourish you. Celebrate it with thanks and gratitude. You can do this silently (or if you’re in like-minded company) connect with your eating companions and say a prayer of thanks and gratitude.
5. You chew properly.
Breathe deeply. Take your time to eat and remind yourself that there’s no rush. When you slow down your breathing, you also slow down your mind. In this relaxed and joyful place, you can take time to enjoy your food, remembering to chew properly.
6. You eat with awareness and joy.
Did you know that you have over 10,000 taste buds in your mouth? And, amazingly, each taste bud contains 50 to 100 taste receptor cells!
There are so many different types of foods and flavors for you to experience and enjoy. Know that you can try them all, savoring the ones you like the most. Let eating be a pleasurable activity for you.
7. You take care of your body.
Looking after yourself with some self-care rituals is a lovely way to change your relationship with food and yourself. Some of my favorite early morning rituals are body-brushing, tongue scraping, oil pulling, yogic breathing, self-massage and drinking a glass of warm lemon water.
8. You focus on progress not perfection.
Expecting yourself to do anything perfectly is a sure-fire way to set yourself up for frustration. If you slip up and eat something that doesn’t resonate with you, it’s OK. Learn from your mistakes and let yourself move on. The key is not to avoid making mistakes, but to learn from them.
9. You listen to your food cravings.
Let food enhance your life and even inform you about your desires and needs. If you have constant food cravings, ask yourself, What is it that I am really craving? Listen quietly for your answers and let them gently nudge you on your path to living a joy-filled, healthy life.
10. You know it’s OK to indulge sometimes.
It’s not what you do irregularly that is a problem, but the things that you do most of the time. Indulging every now and again is nourishing for the soul. Don’t be afraid of food, fat, or even sugar. Your body is very forgiving. Let your mind be equally so.
11. You’re kind wherever you can be.
Last but not least, be kind to yourself. Let your relationship with food be a kind and loving one. With kindness, let go of self judgment and enjoy the food you eat.