Loving Food–ALL of It

I find when I practice my loving affirmations I make healthier food choices. It is only natural…after all you want anyone you truly love to be healthy, right? Well, that goes for ourselves, too.

At the same time, I believe ALL food has a place in our lives. After all, some of our most fun experiences are associated with food and eating. And you wouldn’t deprive a child you loved from ever having her favorite treat would you?  Of course not! Splurging now and then is a wonderful part of experiencing life.

The key is not to shovel food down…not to drown our sorrows or bury our angst in hot fudge or French Fries.  We deserve to love ourselves AND our food…and when we are stuffing ourselves and not even consciously aware of what we are eating or how it tastes then we are loving NEITHER the food or ourselves.

One step we can take towards loving the food we eat is to express gratitude for the food and how it nourishes our body. This is a common in many traditions, where we give thanks to the food before we eat it.

Paying attention to how food tastes as well as how it feels in our mouths is another way to express love for the food and to enjoy the process of eating. Let your tastebuds take some pleasure in your meal. Paying attention to the food goes beyond this…look at the food, as it is prepared and as it is served. Certainly eating is about nourishing and fueling our bodies, but eating is also meant to be a pleasant and pleasurable experience.

A third way of expressing love for your body and food is to by paying attention to how your body feels about food…in general and about specific foods. When I weighed 300 pounds I didn’t really pay attention to how I felt during or after eating…except for the feeling of guilt I had from overeating. But I didn’t notice if I felt stronger or energized by a food or if I felt weaker after eating…tired, or coughing. Now I notice if a food reacts with my body after I eat it. Some of these foods I avoid because my body is telling me they aren’t the best “fit” for me. Others I love the taste of so much I’m willing to have some discomfort later…but I recognize that I feel better if I eat smaller portions and less frequently.

I had an herbalist teacher who loved ice cream and yet it made him violently ill. He told me he would still eat ice cream about once a month…and he knew his body would react in an unpleasant way…but the taste sensation was so wonderful he was willing to put up with it.

Fortunately I don’t have any reactions that I would consider violent…but I still remember what he taught me about eating. He said to aim for eating 80% healthy and have fun with the other 20%. If you do that you will enjoy life more, still be physically healthy and it will be something you can stick with for your entire life!

Another thing you can do is to literally ask your body what it wants to eat at any given moment. If you can really get in touch with your body this way you may be quite surprised.

Author, psychologist and personal development teacher Gay Hendricks relates how he lost over 100 pounds. One day he asked his body what it wanted to eat for breakfast. He felt the urge to eat a blueberry…out of all the choices in his refrigerator…a blueberry. After that blueberry he checked in with his body again and decided he wanted another blueberry. I don’t recall if he ate 3 blueberries or 6 that day, but that was the sum total of his breakfast. After each berry he checked in with his body and when it told him to stop he did.

I’m not suggesting you eat 3 (or 6) blueberries for breakfast every day…that’s not the point…although blueberries are an excellent food that I love to eat on a regular basis.

What I am suggesting is that we stop eating out of habit and that we allow a little more time to really think and FEEL what food we want for our bodies. You might not be able to do this every day…it is a new habit. Rather than grabbing the bagel or a bowl of cereal or a doughnut or toast and coffee out of routine…taking the time to really contemplate what actually sounds good to my body? What I find is when I take the time to really slow down and check in with my body I almost always want something healthy…and a lot less food than I would normally eat out of habit.

Love yourself, your body and the food you give it. Pay attention. And really be grateful for the food and the nutrients it provides you.

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