When it comes to self-love, you can’t flog, demean or hate your body into changing. Whether it be to lose 10 pounds or heal from disease. So how do you learn to love yourself? The first place to begin is to just notice how your relate to your body’s physical needs in general.
Always eating out, rushing through or skipping meals, watch TV while you eat or choosing unhealthy foods sends a message that you are not worth the time and effort to slow down, nourish, nurture and listen to your body. Every time you deny your physical needs – you stay up just a little longer when you need to go to sleep, or work right through the flu, or ‘hold it’ when you really have to pee – you send a message to your body that your needs are not important. Lisa Turner, writer over at Huffington Post, says, “we do this all day long with food. We shovel down breakfast on the way to [work], or we rush through lunch so we can get those last few emails sent, or we skip [a meal] because we’re dieting. Then we expect our body to perform for us.” #guilty
You must make yourself a priority, if for no other reason than your desire to eat better and/or lose weight. Begin by recognizing that you are your first, most important relationship. I’m not saying to ignore your loved ones or neglect your friendships. I’m saying to make yourself one of your best friends, and treat yourself like a loved one.
Focusing on your relationship with food builds a sense of connectedness. Here are 6 ways to begin:
Finding Love Through Food
You may not be ready to adopt a whole new diet or an organized eating plan, but small steps are better than no steps. Your body will function better and help you reach self-love if you make an effort. Consume fresh fruits and veggies as much as you can. And no, eating them on your pizza does not count. Keep some apples and bananas in your desk at work. Dip some carrots in ranch for a late night snack. Start buying better quality foods at the grocery store. Places like Whole Foods and Central Market may be a little more pricey, but if you take time to eat homemade snacks instead of store bought, think of the money you will save! Or you can take up gardening and start growing your own fruits and veggies.
Cook Your Own Meals
You can begin to improve your relationship with food and your physical body by enjoying healthy meals that you have prepared yourself. Investing in the time and energy to prepare your own meals allows for the opportunity to reap the benefits of the love you put in. When you practice self-love by cooking for yourself, you send a message to your body that you are worthy and important. When you prepare a meal by yourself, you literally infuse loving energy from your heart into the food you eat. Focus on positive thoughts while you cook or play some soothing music. These vibrations all end up on your plate, in your belly and heal your mind.
When You Eat, Eat
Don’t read, watch TV, work, drive or engage in stressful conversations. Just eat. Be present with what you’re doing and mindful of the food and your body’s sensations. Look at your food; smell it. Notice how it feels in your mouth. Really taste it. Most important, pay attention to how it feels in your body. Is it working for you? Your body will give you feedback if you just slow down and get quiet enough to hear. Which brings me to my next point:
Part of the feedback loop includes the body’s message that it’s full. Sometimes, that message comes long before the plate or bowl is empty, even mid-forkful! But you’ll miss that signal if you’re rushing through your meal. Related to this idea is to sit down for your meals. So many people eat most of their meals standing up. Sit down, every time, even if it’s just for a few bites. If all you want is a spoonful of ice cream, take a spoonful out of the container, put it in a small bowl, and sit down at the table with your spoonful. Eat it slowly and mindfully. You may actually be satisfied with just a few bites!
Eat What You’re Hungry For
I can almost hear you saying, “What?! Are you nuts?” I realize this is discouraging for people with food issues and sensitivities (allergies, food addictions, diabetes, weight loss diets). Let me explain: Examine your desire and see if there’s something in the food that you’re specifically craving. For example, if you’re craving Ben and Jerry’s Cherry Garcia, what is it about that food that you need or want? Is it the coldness, or the creaminess, or the sweetness? Is it the bits of cherry, or the chocolate? Once you identify what exactly you’ve craving, you might be able to find something else that satisfies those sensory taste needs. Grab a bowl of cherries instead for a healthy choice or if you’re lactose intolerant.
Treat Your Body With Respect
Mindless binging, shoveling food into your mouth or chomping on a fast-food burger while you’re driving are disrespectful, even demeaning, behaviors. Treat your body as you would a loved one. Feed it gently, attentively and with care. And feed it clean food! We say we want to indulge, and then we do it with too much cheap, low-quality food: Fast food fries, donuts, oversized restaurant meals, chips by the bagful.
Cooking for yourself and practicing conscious eating are perhaps one of the most primal and important acts of self-love. You build a sense of trust in yourself when you take time to nurture your body by making your own food, sitting down and enjoying it mindfully.
If you want chocolate, and you’re a person who can eat chocolate, then have some chocolate. Buy an expensive bar of the highest quality stuff you can find. Drive all the way home with it still in the wrapper. Sit down and unwrap it slowly. Break off a small piece, smell it, place it on your tongue and let the warmth of your mouth melt the chocolate against your palate. Notice the sensations you experience in your mind and body. It’s a completely different experience than snarfing down a Snickers bar on the way out of the grocery store. And one that’s very loving.
Today, I challenge you to make yourself a homemade meal! Go and buy healthy ingredients from Whole Foods, listen to some soothing music while you cook, and think (or even say aloud) positive thoughts during the process for a plate full of self-love! But before you eat your meal, take a picture for Instagram and use the hashtag #OCSelfLoveChallenge. Show me what you’re makin’!
+What other ways have you been able to find self-love through food? What’s your favorite homemade meal? Let me know in the comments below!
Much love and good luck