In this day and age, there is so much discussion about the foods we eat, making sure we have enough nutrition, or the ramifications of eating genetically modified organism (GMO) foods. Nutrition is definitely important to ensure that we have the right amount of minerals, proteins, sugars, and fibers that our bodies can use. We are told to have a balanced diet, get adequate amounts of sleep, get enough exercise, and maintain a positive mindset, which will help to ensure a healthy and wellness lifestyle. If that was the case, why do we still find it difficult to be healthy?
I am not negating the importance of what we put into our bodies, but what also is vitally important is our mental and emotional state of being at the time we are preparing our nutritious foods or when we are eating. Just think about this for a minute, what if you had healthy, organic, local grown produce but at the time you were preparing the food, you were angry with someone or some life circumstance? Have you had comments from family members or friends criticizing how your food tastes bland or too salty, or even bitter perhaps? Reflect and see what was going on at the time you were preparing the meal; were you uninspired or irritated? Or has the opposite been true, parents or siblings even children expressing how amazing the dinner was and how good they felt after they ate?
Another case in point, have you ever been to your favorite restaurant and on one occasion felt the food was flat or didn’t have the usual “wow” factor? Often we attribute the mishap to the chef having an “off” night, or that the substitute chef was responsible for the disappointing entree. Could it possibly be a combination of the chef not being in a happy mood or possibly some form of unrest among the staff and servers as well? I am asking these questions to spark awareness about how important our state of mind and emotions dictate our appetite and tastes.
This concept is known as the mind-body connection and has been researched for over forty years, linking the mind with physical expressions in the body. Right now if I mention sucking on a lemon, how many of your lips started to pucker and mouth begin to water? It’s truly amazing how a picture, a smell, and even a thought can create a physical response of the body. We can either choose to work with our minds and control our mental thoughts and emotions, or we can learn to connect with our bodies and gain another way to be more present in our lives. The time is now to start connecting with your body if you haven’t done so. The more in tune you are with your body and its subtle signals, the more you don’t have to be surprised by some health crisis or major health ailment to make you mindful of how the stressors in your life are impacting your physical body and overall well-being.
I want to share a few easy-to-do things that you can do to start connecting your mind with the body, utilizing food consumption as the method. The next time you sit down for a meal, take this opportunity to observe how you eat. Do you take little or big bites? Do you wolf down your food, or do you allow yourself time to savor the flavor and enjoy the food in your mouth? If you eat fast, do you find yourself rushing through life and many times feel overwhelmed by all the things that you need to get done? If you are a slow eater, do you find that you tend to take time before coming to decisions, and taking action? Neither way is right or wrong, but it is a simple expression of how you operate in the world. Observing your eating habits will slowly illustrate how you experience and deal with life.
Another example is to look at your cravings for comfort foods. Have you ever noticed that when you are stressed or worried about something, you tend to reach for chocolate, sweets, or salty chips? How many times have you started to eat a bag of chips, telling yourself I will just eat a few chips and then 10 minutes later the whole bag is empty? Then how often do you proceed to mentally flog yourself for eating all the chips and now have to exercise for two hours to offset what you put into your body?
My suggestion is to enjoy your comfort foods when you crave them. Eventually, the more you give yourself permission to eat these foods, the more you will find that after you start eating your comfort food, you’ll stop sooner. The only reason you crave comfort foods is an attempt to fill a void or an emotion that can be linked to anxiety, fear, sadness, or lack of love. When you address this void or charged emotion, is when you will be free of the cravings for comfort foods.
Learning to listen to your body and establishing a clearer communication with your mind-body takes time. This strategy does not happen over night, but if you stay mindful and work towards this goal, it will serve you and help you navigate through life’s experiences in the long run.
If you can relate, or have a story to share, please comment below. There is a benefit in expressing and exchanging our stories. Let’s hear it!