Conscious eating nourishes your body with food and your mind and heart with peace. It is grounded in caring and compassion. It involves listening calmly and overriding the often-frustrating pull of emotional eating.
To get started and help you focus, ask yourself a few questions:
- What is your body asking for?
- What do you need to nurture yourself?
- What is your energy level?
- What type of fuel do you need now: food, motivation, inspiration, peace?
- What are your emotional needs?
- Where is your heart leading you?
- Where can you get close to a balance among mind, body and heart?
It can be difficult to answer these questions thoughtfully in the beginning. Sometimes you are swept up by emotions, thoughts and memories, and are unclear which choice will calm the out-of-control thoughts and feelings. Longing for food can seem uncontrollable at times. Allow yourself a break to figure out what you need and how to nurture yourself as you experience it.
The 3 keys to conscious eating are:
1. Mind: How do you feel emotionally?
Most of us have basic feelings down such as mad, sad, happy, and bored. One of the great things about conscious eating is that you can get more specific. You develop more options with increased emotional awareness. For example, there are many ways to describe happiness: joy, elation, glee, delight, well-being, and merriment, for a few.
Each of these feelings has a different quality and is a different experience of happiness. You can work with the emotion to identify it clearly, so that you no longer need to emotionally eat to cope with it. It is possible to find fulfillment, happiness and peace in your relationship with food.
2. Body: How do you feel physically?
Conscious eating requires you to check in with yourself regularly and get to know your subtle physical cues. A healthy relationship is built on a foundation of trust and mutual respect. Your relationship with your body’s hunger and satiety signals needs trust and respect too. To be a conscious eater you need to stop, listen, and take good care. Allow yourself the time to check in and wait for an answer.
Denial or snap judgments lead you away from consciousness. To clear your mind, take three deep breaths. Then simply listen to your body to get a sense of what you need. If you are hungry, eat. If you are not hungry, do something else.
3. Heart: Quiet reflection.
The third key to becoming a conscious eater is to be quiet and listen to your heart with the freedom of consciousness. Take a thoughtful, centered perspective, rather than an unconscious, greedy, “I just want it” attitude. Choices are no longer difficult; they just are. So often, you may be encouraged to do what is best for other people or risk being selfish: a black or white perspective. Thinking of life as less black or white and more gray is more realistic.
Stop for a moment and put yourself into the equation. Take into account what you need: caring for your emotions, feeding yourself, space and quiet time, engaging in a physical activity which you find nurturing. Being kind and gentle to yourself deepens your relationship with yourself and makes a big difference in the end.
The three keys to becoming a conscious eater are uncomplicated and you can start today. Like all good things, conscious eating takes time to develop. With practice, you can learn to nurture your relationship with your mind, body, and heart throughout your life, with consciousness and peace.