Honour the relationship with your food
Do you find yourself searching for that right diet? Or perhaps the idea of dieting is making you cringe and something you put on the back burner. My real question is, why do you have to diet to begin with? Instead let’s change the way we view and integrate food into our lifestyles.
In this article, I am going to highlight the ways that I ditch the diets and instead adopt a positive relationship with food. By making food a priority in my life, I am honouring my body inside and out. I provide my body with the nourishing fuel that it requires every day, to live my best life.
So how do we change the relationship with our food and better yet ditch the diets.
Your body is a temple
Your body is a sacred place that we need to honour, as it speaks to us.
The relationship that we have with food is depicted around our relationship with our selves. When we place the same love and kindness on the body within, as we do on the surface, our minds, work, money etc, then our lifestyle habits begin to shift also.
What if we were in a culture where it was more about honouring the body?
Really caring for it, to stay healthy, to build a strong immune system, to have regular menstruation cycles and the list goes on.
What if we were in a culture where it was more about nourishing ourselves with beautiful wholesome foods?
As a plant-based eater myself and someone who was “diagnosed with IBS,’ I learned at a young age, the importance of developing healthy eating habits. Eating raw, or wholesome foods that were less processed, changed the way I felt overall. I had more energy throughout the day, I felt less bloated and my immune system was the strongest than ever. I was also able to sleep better as I felt lighter.
Now living in Mexico, I realise even more so how the Western world encourages us to take on this ‘quick’ and efficient lifestyle. Therefore, it makes sense that we begin to eat food that is prepackaged and processed. Not to mention, the more ‘organic’ or fresh the food is, the more expensive it is. So it makes sense that we gravitate towards the “cheaper food.”
Why do we place more attention into working out, diets and slimming down instead of actually adopting a positive and healthy outlook towards food?
I think, our relationship with food as a collective, culturally, requires some shifting, more attention and love.
Obsession with Body image
Wouldn’t it be refreshing if we were in a culture where the ideal body image, ideal body weight and ideal age simply didn’t exist?
There is so much conditioning around how we need to look, versus how we should feel. Further to that, we have such an obsession with diets.
I mean where does this obsession come from?
We are bombarded with this fixation of looking younger, lean, muscly, but not too muscly, looking toned, having no wrinkles, the list really does go on. I am exhausted thinking about this. Our poor souls, never feeling we are good enough, we feel we never meet society’s standards. It is the paradigm of forever fixing ourselves to meet someone else’s ideal.
As a society, we are trying to figure out ways, systems, methods to look a certain way.
This obsession, wanting to know what others eat, what others are using on their face etc, all comes from an innocent and good place, I am sure. However, the problem is, it all gets put through this paradigm of undigested and unprocessed baggage and emotional wounds.
These emotional wounds, if unaware have formed our “identities” or the way we view ourselves. They have originated from our conditioning growing up, from magazines, social media, movies, music and of course Instagram. As the years have proceeded, access to this kind of information has been inevitable. It is all around us more than ever.
My story that formed my childhood wounds around body image
I will tell you a story, that I still recall so vividly.
I was in third grade, so I must have been about 8 years old. The age where the conditioning of our constructive self begins. I remember I was wearing my very ‘fashionable’ shorts, white T-shirt and matching vest. It was ‘mufti day’ at school because in Australia we wear uniforms, so I had the one day of the year to wear and show off my exciting outfit.
One day, a classmate of mine, very innocently I know, made a statement about how fat I looked in that outfit. Why is it almost 15 years later, I can still recall that simple yet very powerful event? I remember his words, everything, so vividly but no other events after that.
Although it was all very innocent, that was the beginning of conditioning my identity. These insecurities then began to develop the further I proceeded into teen life. As children and teenagers, we are already coupling our beauty with weight and needing to fix ourselves.
The obsession to fix ourselves
We want this radiant beauty, so badly. We think by getting this special formula, it’s going to fix us. Instead of trying to fix ourselves, we should embrace a different culture of what healthy really looks like. A healthy lifestyle isn’t about results or trying to achieve the goal of having the flattest stomach.
It is embracing a way of life with food. It is developing a positive relationship with food.
By making little shifts throughout the day with your food, you are consciously creating a positive relationship with it, as well as the relationship you have with yourself.
Now I invite you to read these daily eating habits that I have adopted over the years and now live by.
How to adopt a healthy lifestyle
Be with nature
Just be with nature. Surrounding yourself with beautiful nature will give yourself a new appreciation for the gifts it shows us. Even if it means, taking moments to absorb the beauty of the plants in your home or in the garden through the window.
The more time we spend in nature or bringing awareness to it, the more we can appreciate the beautiful gifts of Mother Nature and her teachings. Tuning into her teachings, we understand that we too are part of her (stay tuned for another post). This is Gaia. We are Gaia. We understand that we are all part of the soil, part of the Earth.
By embracing this you are only not only practising mindfulness but you become more grounded as you honour her gifts that she has offered us, such as her fruits, vegetables and grains.
Importance of food
Change the mentality around food. Place just as much importance on eating, as you do on working or exercising. This does not mean the latter is less important, we just need to adopt a way of living where food is really a significant part of the day.
I was lucky enough to grow up in a household where eating dinner was a time to really sit down and be together with the family. The Italian way. Food was the glue that brought us together. When there is a family reunion there was always a sit-down meal.
That’s why I cherish the siestas in Europe. A way of life the rest of the world would benefit in adopting. Coming home in the middle of the day, meeting with your family and enjoy a beautiful home-cooked meal together.
Which leads me into the next point.
Eat dinner at lunch time.
Now I know this not possible for those living outside of Europe, those working regular office hours or someone like me who used to be a school teacher. However, eating earlier in the day, allows you to burn off the heavy meal for the rest of the day.
Now living in Mexico, I have gotten into the habit of eating at 3 o clock each day. Of course, I know this is impossible for some, but being conscious about eating the larger meal earlier in the day, can definitely make you feel lighter later in the evening. Therefore, energy levels are different.
By eating my heavier meal in the day, I now use my energy in the evenings to rest, read, write etc as my fuel was burned during the day. I also sleep better as I am allowing my body to rest properly and not digest a heavy meal.
Check out my Cooking Experience with the Mayan Family in Mexico here.
Eat with a calm heart
Eat when you have a calm heart. This simply means, to eat while you are feeling grounded or centred. Think about how you would prepare for mediation for example.
Having a calm heart while eating, your nervous system also becomes calm. Therefore, you are able to digest food easier. I don’t know about you, but when I am rushing around, I can barely digest thoughts and emotions let alone food. Also, have you ever eaten when feeling down, or stressed? There is a certain restriction or intensity within the body.
When you have a calm heart and nervous system, then you can digest your food easier. So really connect to your body and offer yourself love and kindness as you consciously nourish yourself.
Eat in Quietness and embrace mindful eating.
One of my favourite part of my days is when I sit down with Carlos and we eat a beautiful meal together. We are free from distractions and our focus is solely on our beautiful, nutritious food in front of us and one another. No phone, no televesion, no other distractions.
When you are being diligent with your food habits and the environment you are creating for yourself, you are assisting your brain to connect with the digestive system. Then you can engage with all your senses with your food. You are generating an intellectual way of digesting food.
When I am in a calm and quiet environment, I am absorbing every texture and flavour.
One of my favourite vegan dishes: the famous Buddha Bowl
Eat Sitting down
Again, by being active while you are eating, you take your consciousness away from the digestion that is occurring in the body. The digestive system really begins to weaken.
This of course does not mean eat while driving or sitting at the computer working.
Actually make the priority to take your body over to another place, free of distractions and just take that time to eat. Your body, digestive system, energy levels, moods, clairty in the mind will thank you later.
Your body speaks to you
Did you know that your body communicates with you. It tells you when it is full. This requires you to pay close attention to how you are feeling with each bite. Certain emotions or sensations in the body will arise throughout the meal. Your body speaks to you with sensations, such as in a little release of air, or burp.
It is saying, you can stop now! I am almost full and that is enough, now the rest just requires a little water and of course air.
So being mindful when eating or embracing the habit of “mindful eating” means you are creating a calm temple for your nervous system to not only digest the food easily but to also communicate with you.
If you don’t notice these subtle releases of air, it could mean your body is still wired up. So take a deep breath in, centre or ground yourself and enjoy the beautiful gifts in front of you.
When your body communicates with you, it is generally expressing that it cannot handle any more food right now.
So pay attention to the burps!
Chew your food
“Chew your food, ” seems like an obvious one doesn’t it and I am sure you have heard the idea of chewing your food thirty or so times. Now I am not here to tell you how many times to chew as this may just sound obvious, however, it is super important.
The idea is to not just chew enough to swallow. This would also mean, taking your time to eat. Digestion actually begins in the mouth, as the saliva contains an enzyme that chemically breaks down the food. Furthermore, chewing your food before swallowing, assists in nutrient absorption and better digestion.
Also, by taking your time to chew and eat your food, you also send the messages to your body that you are eating just the right amount. Remember, your stomach is really the size of about your fist, and over eating will only cause it to stretch.
When you do not provide your stomach with enough space for new food to enter, then this is when the bloating, indigestion or constipation occurs.
So, in short… take your time and chew your food.
Cook your own food
Your body loves you to cook for yourself. As you cook, you absorb all the senses.
Like the smell of the tomato simmering in the pot with spices, the feel of the carrots or broccoli as you peel and cut. The sound of you slicing the onions. The taste while your prepare the food.
Your digestive system is actually getting ready to digest everything through the senses.
So you are basically warming up the body, and preparing your digestive system before you even sit down. This then leads to better digestion.
Regular meal times
Your body loves fluidity and routines. The same way it loves it when you go to sleep at the same time each night.
As you allow your body to get into this regular rhythm, your body is already in preparation mode. It is getting ready to eat and receive the food. It is getting ready to break down the particles to receive the nutrients.
Each time I disrupt this rhythm I find myself feeling very bloated, constipated and my metabolism slows right down.
Does this happen for you?
Eating right is all about eating for the soul. It is all about the way we feel versus the way we look.
So I advise you to keep a journal for the next 14 days. Each day take on one, two or all of these healthy eating habits above.
Write down what it was you ate and how it may have changed the way you feel.