We often think in terms of physical nutrients to boost our immune system or to boost our energy levels – but we rarely, if ever, think in terms of ’emotional nutrients’ when it comes to eating. I define emotional nutrients to be emotions that boost your well-being.
Here are 3 you can start incorporating into your eating experience, today. I’m curious to know what happens for you.
Infuse calmness into your meal. Take 3-5 long, slow breaths, focusing only on the feeling of breathing. This switches on the relaxation response. When you are more relaxed, you’ll eat more slowly, you’ll digest better and you’ll be more able to tune in to your hunger and fullness cues.
If you’re not feeling any sense of calm after those few breaths, keep breathing a little longer, and keep bringing your attention back to your breath if you get distracted by thoughts and feelings.
It may be that something has happened which is triggering anxiety, worry, anger, etc. Say to yourself ‘I’m experiencing [whichever feeling].’ You don’t have to name the emotion. You can simply describe the sensations in your body.
It may be that your mind is racing. If that’s the case, say to yourself ‘I notice my mind is racing. I’m having a lot of thoughts about….[see if you can categorise the type of thinking in a short phrase].’
In this way, you’re stepping into the role of Observer or Witness of your experience, rather than being wrapped up in it.
Ask yourself if you can let those thoughts and feelings go. If you can’t, can you simply let them be? Allow them space, but choose to put your attention elsewhere – on the experience of eating.
This is so often forgotten: the simple pleasure of eating.
Years and years of dieting and diet mentality saps the pleasure and joy from eating! You’re either eating tasteless stuff you don’t like because it’s on the diet, or, if you’re eating foods you do like the taste of, you probably feel guilty for eating it!
You have nothing to feel guilty about!
You are allowed to eat!
And in fact… drum roll…
You have permission to ENJOY it!
Taste it. Notice how the taste changes as you continue to chew. Notice the subtleties of the flavours.
If you’re not enjoying it, you also have permission to not eat it!
This is such an important emotional nutrient when it comes to eating.
Dieting and the obsession with being a certain (smaller) size, robs us of our satisfaction.
Have you ever eaten practically a bucket of salad and still not felt satisfied?
And… have you ever had the experience of eating a small amount of something that you really savoured, that was delicious, and even though you weren’t physically full, you felt satisfied?
THAT is the thing to aim for: that feeling of satisfaction, as separate from physical fullness.
Satisfaction has a physical component to it for sure. It’s hard to feel satisfied if you’re still physically hungry. But being physically full, or reasonably full, doesn’t guarantee a sense of satisfaction!
Feeling calm, eating slowly so you can savour and get pleasure from what you’re eating, supports the experience of satisfaction!
See what happens when you infuse your eating experiences with these three emotional nutrients. You might find you overeat less frequently.