For today, observe your feelings about food. Eat only when you are physically hungry and with mindful awareness.
For many of us, eating has been a way to comfort ourselves, to self-soothe. Throughout our lives food has represented friendship when we were lonely, validation and comfort when we were hurt, reward when we wanted to celebrate. We picked up the food because we thought we were being kind to ourselves. But in reality we knew that it wasn’t kindness at all, and the extra food did more harm than good. It's time to let go of the delusion that eating that bowl of ice cream is what you deserve. You deserve so much more! Being lenient on yourself when it comes to eating out of stress or other emotions is the opposite of kindness. True kindness to yourself means saying no.
Mindful eating is being aware of what you are feeling and thinking before you eat or while you eat. When you feel like reaching for food, when you begin to eat your meal, or when you are physically full but want seconds, tune in and get mindful. Mindful eating is checking in with yourself and asking yourself if you are truly physically hungry or emotionally hungry. If you don’t know whether it’s emotional or physical, getting mindful at that moment is essential. Every individual is different so finding out whether you are truly physically hungry is a personal journey. There are hunger signals that your body gives you to tell you it is physically hungry and to tell you when it is “full”. For some people hunger shows up in our bodies as a rumbling in our stomachs, lightheadedness, or a slight “hunger” headache; fullness shows up in our bodies as a slight experience of belly expansion (not to the point where we are bloated or uncomfortable but before), or a signal from our brains that says this is enough. When you tune into your body and cultivate awareness of your body’s signals you will be able to identify whether you are physically hungry. If you feel you are hungry and your body has not produced physical signals, you may be emotionally hungry. What does this mean? It means you are receiving hunger signals from your mind not your body, and your mind is prompting you to eat food that your body is not physically hungry for. This typically happens because you are feeling an uncomfortable emotion that you’d rather not feel. Once you’ve identified it as emotional hunger, you have taken a crucial step! From here, you can take helpful action and refrain from eating emotionally. Easier said than done? For many of us it is not easy at all. Like all things we get better at it in time and with practice. Mindful eating starts with the key steps:
get to know your body’s hunger signals (consult your doctor especially if you have diabetes)
get to know your body’s “full” signals
identify if your hunger is physical or emotional
if emotional, do something else besides eat
in time, begin to identify what the emotion is
write about it, talk about it, walk about it, paint about it
know that emotionally eating is never about the food, it is always about the feelings