Have you ever asked yourself as you’re eating your way through a tub of ice cream: “Why am I still eating this? My stomach hurts and I feel like crap – I should stop.” And then you keep on going. Yeah, I’ve been there too.
One of the biggest shifts in my health & wellness journey* has only happened in the last couple of months. I’ve seen a dramatic shift in my eating habits by practicing mindful eating. With the help of a nutritionist who had a holistic approach in helping me delve deeper into the psychology of eating, I learned that with a small shift in my perspective on treats and why I ate certain foods. I feel confidant that I am on a path to create lasting changes in my life to be strong, healthy and confident.
Creating a healthy lifestyle is not only how often you exercise and what you eat. Those are just indications of the state of your overall health on a physical, psychological and emotional level. To me, having a healthy lifestyle means taking care of your body by managing your stress levels; it means feeding your mind and soul on a daily basis so that you feel inspired and happy. It also means feeding your body the right nutrients to keep you going, and exercising to make sure that you have the physical strength to go through life full force!
It’s only been in the last couple of months that I’ve seen the biggest change in my body and I attribute that mainly to mindful eating. When I’m mindful before and during a meal, I notice that my body is ‘telling’ me what it wants and doesn’t want. I realized that I didn’t crave junk food because in reality, it makes me feel like crap after; my stomach becomes bloated and my digestive system is working in over-drive to process the sh*t I just ate. It does NOT feel good, even though in the moment, while eating the food, I am thoroughly enjoying it. So I began to ask myself ‘Do I *really* want this? Why do I want it? How will I feel after if I eat it? What would make me feel good and satisfied instead?’.
When I took the time to think about what my body truly wanted rather than just eating something for the sake of eating, I noticed that what I actually craved was something healthy and delicious that I enjoyed not only while I ate it, but also after because it made my body feel stronger and that it wasn’t over-working my system. It’s a very subtle but deep shift and you really need to focus on how your body is feeling to notice what’s going on inside your head and inside your gut.
There are more ways to practice mindful eating such as eating without distractions like the TV so that you are aware of what you are eating and when your body is telling you that you are full. But I think my favourite point about mindful eating is to start from a place of self-love – eating should be pleasurable but it’s also to give your body the nutrients it needs to give you energy. And guess what, healthy eating is actually more enjoyable because you don’t feel heavy and disgusting after!
Don’t get me wrong, I am FAR from being perfect. I am beginning to understand why I’ll eat half a bag of popcorn (even though I didn’t really feel like it), or why I want that sweet treat after a meal (and if you’re interested in learning about the different reasons WHY we eat unhealthy foods, let me know and I can do a separate blogpost on it!). But working through the emotions and fixing these habits takes energy and effort. I am building the muscle to be able to recognize the signs quicker and have a better control before reaching for that bag of popcorn, but I know that the times when I am able to fight the urge, I feel 1,000 times better and my body thanks me for it because I don’t feel like crap after.
A final important point about mindful eating is that you have to find the right balance for you. I’m not staying to not have a treat here and there. God knows I love having ice cream in the summertime. But try to learn to be in tune with your body and you will notice that you crave ‘treats’ less because eating healthy will feel like you are treating yourself and your body the way that it should be treated.
Have you tried mindful eating? What are have you observed? Share any tips or comments, I’d love to hear about your experiences so that we can all learn from each other! Share with me through social media, @SeppyforLove!
*I try using more empowering words to define my ‘weight loss efforts’ – seeing it as a health and wellness journey not only feels less daunting but also puts the emphasis on what’s more important than just how I look. I want to practice habits that I will keep for the rest of my life to feel stronger, healthier and better in my skin.