How to Make Peace with Food through Intuitive Eating

Who’s hungry!? Comment below the last meal you loved!

As fun as these dogs are, can you remember the last time you ate a meal alone? Truly alone--without another person or your cell phone or watching Netflix. When’s the last time you ate without any distractions? 🤔😳😣  I've got nothing. Guilty!

In our everyday busy schedules, we love to multitask, especially with food; whether it's scrolling through Facebook at lunch or eating popcorn during a movie or drinking coffee while driving, we do it all the time. However, multitasking during meal time leads to mindless overeating. For me, this is especially true when sweets are involved. Have you ever eaten an entire a box of cookies or bag of popcorn without realizing it? Mindless eating happens when we don’t focus on our food during mealtime.

Key to a healthy diet, mindful eating--more commonly known as intuitive eating--teaches you to listen to your body and be present at each meal for maximum satisfaction and awareness. You eat and select foods based on your body's natural signals. Eating mindfully can help you practice portion control, stop emotional eating, discover food insensitivities, and recognize your body’s hunger and satiation cues. Overtime, you will become more in tuned with your body knowing when you’re actually hungry, what food makes your body feel good, how much you can eat, and when you feel full.

Key to a healthy diet, mindful eating teaches you to listen to your body and be present at each meal.

4 Tips to Start mindful Eating

  1. Before your meal, drink water to satiate any thirst that may be mistaken for hunger.
  2. Avoid eating snacks out of their containers as they often contain more than one serving. When you buy bulk-packaged snacks, such as a bag of chips, section out the portions. You can do this by dividing the food into containers/bags or pouring out a section
  3. Take breaks during your meal, and check in with your body. Do you still feel hungry or full? Do you need to go back for seconds or stop here?
  4. When eating at a party or buffet, survey all the food choices before you make a plate so you take what you really want and avoid picking up everything.

Why Did I Start Mindful Eating? The Biblical Basis

A few months ago, I abstained from refined sugar for over 40 days as a part of Lent. This sugar detox helped me understand my cravings. A lot of times I craved sugar because I was feeling restless at work and needed to do something. Other times, I was still hungry from not eating enough in my last meal. I also realized how foods refined sugar are so addicting, and nutritious foods give me greater satisfaction with my meals. Learning these lessons, I incorporated more raw fruit into my diet.

The experience also changed my perception of sweets & food in general. During this detox, I read through the book of Mark, including the story of Jesus feeding the five thousand in Mark 6.

“And Jesus, when He came out, saw a great multitude and was moved with compassion for them, because they were like sheep not having a shepherd.
So He began to teach them many things ...
And when He had taken the five loaves and the two fish, He looked up to heaven, blessed and broke the loaves, and gave them to His disciples to set before them; and the two fish He divided among them all. So they all ate and were filled.”
— Mark 6:33-34,41-42 NKJV

Before he divided the food among the people, Jesus look up and recognized God as the Provider; he thanked him and blessed the food. Even though they only had two fish and five loaves of bread, Jesus fed and fulfilled each of those five thousand people not only with the food, but his words of hope and life. Here, we see how Jesus saw the multitude as sheep looking for a shepherd. He could tell the people were hungry for more, and he showed how God would provide everything they needed.

In this passage, Jesus demonstrates food is nourishment, a blessing, a gift from God. Food is not your enemy. It does not have to be a source of guilt or an obligation. Each meal we have God is providing substance to keep us going so we can do His will. Every single day you can buy and eat food is a blessing! Recognizing this, I eat each meal with greater gratitude, saying “Lord, thank you for giving me this food to nourish my body.”

As my food philosophy evolves, I continue to pursue a healthier relationship with food by making small changes, such as swapping white rice with brown rice or lettuce with spinach, buying more in-season fruit, and getting second helpings when I still feel hungry.

One of my most recent changes is eating meditation by the Simple Habit app. I tried it on a whim, not even with a real meal. I was eating crackers late at night. Through this meditation, I realized I wasn’t really hungry, and put the food away. Mindful eating meditation has helped me practice self control and resist emotional/boredom eating.

How Can You Try Mindful Eating Meditation?

Try mindful eating during your next sedentary meal, meaning don’t try this when you’re eating on the go. Choose a meal you really enjoy. Find the quietest place possible. Put your phone away and any other distractions. Once you sit down with your food, follow these seven steps from Simple Habit.

  1. Look at your food. What are the colors and shapes?
  2. Touch your food with your hands and/or utensils.
  3. Smell your food and name each one.
  4. How do you feel about your food? (mentally and physically) Are you excited, ravenous, happy? Or do you feel indifferent, sick, faint? Do you want to eat this meal? Why or why not?
  5. Pick up your food with your hands and/or utensils. Let the food hover outside your mouth. Anticipate your first bite. Touch the food to your tongue. How do you feel now? Do you sense feelings of wanting or impatience?
  6. Chew your first bite slowly. Notice the textures. Try to name each flavor. Is your food, salty, bitter, sour, etc.
  7. Acknowledge and release your feelings. Find gratitude for this food as nourishment. Now, take your next bite.

For the full guided meditation in the Simple Habit app, go to http://simplehabit.com/eating-meditation.

Learn More About Mindful Eating

Want to learn more about intuitive eating? Here’s some additional resources and articles:

Photo by Ali Inay on Unsplash