Ep 93: How to Be More Successful at Listening to Your Body
Today we want to give you some tools for being more successful at listening to your body. We often hear from people that they know it’s a good idea to listen to your body, but they have no idea how to actually start doing it. It’s not complicated at all, and in this episode we want to give you some ways you can get started with listening to your body.
We often spend more time thinking + talking about food than we actually do cooking + eating it. Most of us love delicious food and the eating experience… but all too often we rush through it without actually letting ourselves enjoy it. That’s so unfortunate!
As nutrition professionals, we truly believe that having satisfying and pleasurable eating experiences is one of the best things we can do for our health.
Now obviously, we realize that sometimes a meal or snack just gets us from point A to point B in the quickest way possible. That’s real life and it happens.
But if it’s happening consistently, it may be the reason you lack trust and confidence with yourself, your food, and your body. Mindful eating practices are great tools to help you feel more successful at listening to + respecting your body cues.
Overall, here's how we define mindful eating: Mindful eating means bringing conscious, mindful awareness to your food choices and your body’s intuitive signals, while engaging all your senses to make the experience satisfying + nourishing to both your body and your mind.
Anecdotally, we see this kind of eating experience being practiced regularly in other countries with noted benefits to their health. In our busy and hectic lifestyle, we may rarely make the time to approach food in this way.
Instead of worrying so much about WHAT you eat, we want to take the opportunity to help you explore HOW you eat. Many people shy away from mindful eating because they see it as rigid rules (turn off the TV, chew more slowly, etc).
However, using mindful eating practices is only meant to be a tool for helping you feel more successful at eating. The goal is to create an environment conducive to positive experiences with food, which will build trust + confidence (without a diet!).
You don’t need to sit and stare at the wall while you eat, but you may benefit from making time (whenever possible) to connect with your food and your body when planning, preparing and eating your food.
First strategy: ➡️HOW you eat
Practice slowing down. For true psychological and physiological satisfaction, it’s helpful to realize you are eating. Take some deep breaths before eating, helping you approach meals with intention and connection. As you eat, focus your attention on the food. If you find your mind wandering to responsibilities, work or judgments about the food (which it will!), gently bring your attention back to how the food tastes, smells, feels, looks and sounds (if applicable). This will allow you to truly enjoy your food while providing the opportunity to listen to hunger, fullness and satisfaction.
Second strategy: ➡️WHEN you eat
Are you eating often enough? Every body process functions best when given consistent + regular nutrition. It’s easy to forget, lose track of time or avoid eating. You can likely anticipate hunger every 2-4 hours, depending on a snack vs a meal. (For more on implementing a flexible structure around food, listen to Episode 87.)
Practice checking in on hunger within that time frame, being prepared with foods in case you need it. Anticipating and meeting your own needs in that way will build so much trust and confidence with food!
Third strategy: ➡️WHY you eat
Would you be surprised if we told you that we do recommend using food journals for some clients? The kind of food journals we recommend aren’t to count calories or keep track of points, it’s to help you sort through your food patterns, behaviors and beliefs. Why do you eat and how do you feel about what you eat? Food journals can create an opportunity to pause and check in, assess intentions and reflect on past situations.
Fourth strategy: ➡️WHERE you eat
Are you eating in the car? At your desk? While answering emails? Over the sink? While it’s probably not realistic to expect yourself to sit down with zero distractions for every meal, take every opportunity to make your meal time a separate event from work or life. You will find greater self-trust and eating competence as you truly allow yourself to just eat.
Fifth strategy: ➡️WHAT you eat
Anything you want! That part will always and forever be up to you. A mindful eating practice would include noticing how what you eat makes you feel and to problem solve without swinging to extremes in eating.
Mindful eating has real potential to create positive experiences with food, which will increase confidence and decrease fear. It will help you realize that you can love + enjoy food, while still respecting and trusting your body. We have more about mindful eating practices and tools for you in the upcoming few weeks, so stay tuned.
We hope this has been helpful for you to think about and will get you started on practicing more mindful eating practices in your own life to help you be able to listen to your body!
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