We are constantly receiving internal messages from our body about which foods are best for us at any given time. However, we are also surrounded by an external culture that judges some foods as "good" or "bad". As we try to tap into the body's intuition so we can hear these messages, it's important to drop the external value system that second-guesses them.
For example, if you are starting to feel under the weather, you might crave spicy food. This is the body's internal message. It's communicating with you, and its message makes sense. The capsicum family of plants (black pepper, cayenne, sweet peppers, chiles) stimulates capillary action and supports detoxification.
But you may have read that too much spicy food can aggravate your liver or cause an ulcer, so you steer away from it. This external information blocks the body's intuition and you are more likely to catch a cold.
This example elucidates the importance of giving up black-and-white thinking. Embrace the fact that healthy eating is flexible and can include a wide variety of foods. Sometimes the healthier choice may be the choice that's seemingly more indulgent.
Which would be a healthier choice: cake or salad? The salad is only healthier if that’s what you really want. Otherwise, you might feel deprived and end up overeating later. Enjoying cake mindfully acknowledges that food is not only a way to nourish ourselves but is also a way to celebrate. We might end up eating both salad and cake and feel much more satisfied.
To practice listening to your body, sit down and tune in before you go to the kitchen and open the refrigerator.
Close the eyes or gaze at the floor.
Take a deep breath in for 4 counts.
Hold the breath for 4 counts.
Breathe out for 6 counts.
This cycle relaxes the nervous system and allows us to become more grounded and centered in our bodies.
Now, pay attention to how you are feeling. Can you name an emotion or a sensation?
Are you tired, overwhelmed, excited, rushed, stressed, or calm?
Do you feel hot, cold, tense, or relaxed?
Choose a food that helps to balance this feeling.
Most importantly, eat it slowly, without any other distractions, and savor it. This is mindful eating.
To learn more about which foods bring balance to specific sensations,