A while ago I read a novel called The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake, which was about a little girl who suddenly realized she could taste the emotions of the person who had prepared the food she was eating. The story became even more fantastical from there, but the idea that food could convey emotion inspired me and rang powerfully true to me.
After all, food is stored energy, literally: Plants store the energy of the sun through a process called photosynthesis. And there's a reason mom's chicken soup or grandma's cheesecake tastes better than anything else you can find in a store. I believe we feel our food as much as we taste it, which is one of the reasons why you see Eat Sunny's tagline, Feel Your Food, on a lot of our packaging.
"Food carries energy," agree Tay 'n Val, a spiritual coaching duo based in Seattle who, like so many of us, have struggled with their relationships with food. Both had high body mass index's (BMI's) and were put in the so-called Trim and Fit club in elementary school. Instead of going to recess or lunch, they had to run laps. "In our young minds, we were being punished in front of everyone because of what we ate and how much we ate," say Tay and Val. Result? They began to equate food with punishment and humiliation, and started hiding their eating, eating in toilet cubicles on occasion.
"So many women go through these kinds of similar experiences on a daily basis," say Tay 'n Val.
It's true. Even if you aren't eating in secret, chances are you have sat down to a meal and thought negative thoughts about yourself and felt guilty or shameful. I know I have, and I know where those feelings come from. If I follow the metaphorical breadcrumbs, it begins with the fear that I am not enough as I am, that I am not lovable, that I am not worthy, that there should be less of me and until there is, I am not allowed to enjoy my food.
Healing your relationship with food isn't easy. Mine is still a work in progress. And my mission is to share what I have learned about nutrition and cooking with all of you. So that we can all relearn to eat and enjoy our food without shame or guilt, and see mealtimes and eating as an act of self-care, an exercise in self worth. Every time we nourish ourselves with food that tastes delicious and gives our bodies what they need we affirm our worthiness.
Again -- it's not an easy accomplishment. I get that. But there are exercises you can use to start shifting the way you relate to food and your body. Keeping reading for Tay and Val's happy mealtime strategies.
Try these mindful eating techniques
1. SEEK AWARENESS
You can become aware of your current relationship with food by putting your fork/food down in between bites. This simple practice has helped so many people at our mindfulness workshops become aware of overeating habits, eating when they are not even hungry, not chewing, etc.
2. RITUALIZE YOUR MEALTIMES
One of the ways to honor the food we eat and cultivate a sense of safety and security for ourselves is to prioritize mealtimes. Set aside time for meals. Put it on your calendar. Letting your mind and body know that you've got your back. Ritualize it and say a gratitude prayer before you eat.
3. KEEP GOOD COMPANY
It’s not just about calories, it’s also about who you eat with and how you eat it. Eating with people who really love their food can be so enlightening and healing. Tay began to heal her relationship with food when Val brought her to Kentucky Fried Chicken and ate it with her. “I have never ever seen someone’s eyes light up and be so filled with joy when they are eating. It was such an eye-opening and a turning point for me. I just didn’t know you could be so happy when you eat. I want that,” says Tay.
Here’s a great journal prompt to begin creating a healthier relationship with food:
“If your relationship with food is like a relationship with another human being. What sort of relationship do you have now? What sort of relationship do you want to have moving forward?”
Let us know what you think in the comments below or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org