I read somewhere recently that we are starting to live so far outside our bodies that we are almost a race of walking heads!
We are so ruled by the relentless chatter of our minds that we treat our bodies as something we have to consciously think about, judge and control.
Science is now increasingly showing that our thoughts and emotions are inextricably linked to our bodies (there are over 100 million brain cells in our guts!) – so tuning into your emotions and your physical body can be both illuminating and helpful.
Start to become aware of when you are using your mind and brain to tell yourself how things “should” be or what you “should” be doing. And instead, try to to tune in to your body – to really feel whats going on – both in your emotions and in physically.
You will start to become more aware of when you are using food to numb out the pain – and then be able to more naturally move towards better choices.
When we are under any type of emotional stress our metabolism really slows down. And eating on the move or eating whilst working doubles the load put on our digestive systems.
So carve out a little space in your day. And sit down to eat. Even if you are having take-out sandwiches, put them on a plate, sit away from you desk, breathe and focus on enjoying the food. You will eat less and enjoy it much more.
Eat more slowly – chew properly and really taste your food. And I mean really taste it, savour it, appreciate every mouthful.
It’s so easy to eat without tasting these days – we are all scarfing down food so fast, on the move, in a rush to get somewhere or finish the to-do list that its easy to eat a whole meal without really tasting it.
Excitingly, science is now discovering that saliva contains important substances that can help pain relief and depression. So chewing well is not only going to help you avoid weight gain and digestive problems, but actually makes you happier.
Use all your senses
Really effective digestion uses all the senses. The more you see, touch and smell your food before eating the more revved up your digestion will be (mouth watering anyone?).
It sounds cliched, but sitting in nice surroundings, with your food on pretty plates can make a big difference.
And “eating the rainbow” not only ensures that you are getting a great mix of different nutrients, but a bright and colourful plate of food is far more appetising (again revving up all your digestive enzymes) than a bland bowl of non-descript colour.
Textures can also help. I’m a big fan of comfort food, but a scattering of nuts & seeds can perk up a big bowl of soup or risotto. A scattering of cold goats cheese on a warm sweet potato or a spritz of lime juice on a smooth avocado. These unexpected textures bring a zing that will help to get your digestive juices vibrating.
Become more tactile in everything you do. Be aware of the materials and textures that surround you. Choose beautiful natural materials whenever you can. Be aware of the sense of them on your skin. Tuning in to the feel of things and how they make you feel is a huge step in moving away from the crazy chatter in your head.
Find the pleasure
Don’t force yourself to eat things you don’t like. This isn’t an excuse to binge out on pies or biscuits. But if you don’t like kale for goodness sake don’t force yourself to eat it. Do explore and experiment. But eat the foods you really love.
I find that for so many people, once they explore feeling more, they naturally start to eat in a way that makes them feel better. And start to find processed foods and ready meals a lot less enjoyable. We are so used to cooking quickly and eating quickly that we often don’t realise that the taste and the texture of what we are eating is really not very pleasant.
Most of my clients are amazed at how oblivious they have been to how they are feeling and the effect that food can have on this. And conversely how their emotions have been deeply affecting food choices. And are delighted at how much better they feel when they consciously tune into their bodies more.
There is a saying that what you focus on grows. If you consciously focus on things that you love and enjoying those you will be amazed at the effects on your weight, your health and your happiness.
Jules Anderson is a mother and integrative health & nutrition coach, helping busy, overwhelmed and exhausted parents and professionals lose weight, look younger and feel healthier & happier.
With a 1st class Honours Chemistry degree from Edinburgh University, and many years of personal study and exploration, she went on to train with the Institute of Integrative Nutrition in New York, with pioneers in the health industry such as Deepak Chopra, Andrew Weill and Mark Hyman.
Jules also qualified as a yoga teacher at The Yoga Academy with internationally acclaimed yoga teacher Simon Low and integrates many relaxation techniques into her programmes. She is a firm believer in great food and eating what you love!
You can contact Jules at firstname.lastname@example.org