What does self care through food and eating look like?
This was the question I proposed at our latest Nutrition & Mindfulness Retreat. The overarching theme have been that of stress and how to develop stress resilience, so that we can live in the most fulfilling way possible.
Food and eating is fundamental for survival, yet so many of us develop a really complicated relationship with (often) both. The most basic needs can become neglected, ignored and / or abused.
We somehow forget how to nourish and care for ourselves, in the most basic way – with food.
When we think about self care we may think about massages, hot baths and fancy retreats. We may forget about the importance to care for ourselves, as well as our bodies in a kind compassionate way, often because we get too busy caring for everybody else’s needs!
Having done a number of interviews for my side project The Selfcare Path Podcast, with lots of practitioners from all over the world, one thing that every single one talked about was the importance of taking care of ourselves, FIRST!
We simply cannot pour from an empty cup. Even though many of us like to think so…
So back to self care and food. What does it look like when I take care of myself in the most nourishing way possible, using food?
This is where bringing some mindfulness to the table can be super helpful. By cultivating both awareness as well as self compassion, I can best support and serve my body with what it needs, when it needs it.
We may straightway think that nourish ourselves with food mean making the most nutritious choices possible. And yes, it does, in a way. But before we even decide what to eat, we need to honour our need TO eat.
First of all (re)learning to recognise the subtle cues of hunger and then HONOUR them (i.e eat!) is important. Even vital! Just like making susre we get adequate sleep and water, we need to feed our bodies if we want them to function well. Or perhaps function at all…
The second thing is to ask ourselves what we are hungry for? If we are physically hungry, what specific food am I hungry for?
This is where it can get complicated. We may have lot of external rules for what we “should” be wanting and what foods are good for us. Or we may fear that if we let ourselves have exactly what we want we will be living on bars of chocolate and crisps forever.
It is at exactly this point where we need to build strong trust as well as deep listening, so that we can actually hear what it is our BODY wants. Not necessarily what the mind is craving…
Mindful eating, is not restrictive (because restriction only backfires!) yet it is not really about eating whatever we want, whenever we want, either.
Mindful eating is to respectfully listen to our bodies for what it needs and then honour that need. This takes time and practice.
Food is fundamental nourishment for our physical body and our survival, so when we feed our bodies in ways that are both nourishing and satisfying we are taking care of ourselves. Self care through food.
So how do you know what (food) choices to make ?
By trying to make a food choice that is both nutritious and satisfying will also most likely mean that it will definitely be nourishing too.
Being mindful not only give us the opportunity to listen to the signals of hunger, fullness & satiety. It also gives us the chance to be present and make a choice to have what we are hungry for.
It’s all too easy to ignore these subtle signals from our body, when we are stressed.
We eat foods that are easy to grab on the go, struggling to carve out time to prepare meal.
We eat fast, not chewing well and perhaps not tasting much either.
We eat too much or not enough. Neither which serves our body in the way it deserves.
Of course, it is not always possible to make the right match for what you desire and what your body is calling for each and every time. Sometimes we are more mindful than others. Sometimes we don’t have to hand what we want or need, sometimes we let ourselves get ravenous making it hard to to make an informed choice, and other times we eat until we feel uncomfortably full.
This is where self compassion is so powerful.
When the negative voice pops up we need to be kind and caring towards ourselves, rather than letting this inner mean voice take over, and getting stuck beating ourselves up. Instead we can with kindness recognise that perhaps this particular choice at this particular moment, wasn’t the wisest move. And then move on.
This is how we create freedom with choice, and freedom with food.
So maybe it is time, that we pause to check in if we are hungry? And if we are then nourish ourselves with colourful, tasty, satisfying foods, not because we “should”, but because we care?
How are you going to nourish yourself with some self care through food this week?
Ready to let go of dieting and create a nourishing relationship with food & eating? I’m currently offering €50 off my online programme – for more info check it out here