Meaningless eating is a tough habit to break. I know that it has been quite a challenge for myself, and I am sure it is for others as well. I can be a compulsive eater. I’m hungry, I eat. I’m bored, I eat. I’m upset, I eat. I’m stressed, I eat.
I think you get the idea.
I like food. It’s not a secret. My curves didn’t develop from a lack of groceries. It serves as necessary nourishment for my body. Not only that, but it provides comfort emotionally. I live in the south, where family meals are a way of life that borders ritualistic. Although we are busy and do not get to do the as much as we like, it is a guarantee that each holiday and birthday brings forth a day of cooking and kitchen full of hot dishes and full bellies.
Since food is such an obvious necessity of my daily life, I feel like it is important that I am not eating mindlessly. To be more aware of what I am putting in my body. Now, I haven’t always felt this way. While I was pregnant with both of my children, I ate McDonald’s chicken nuggets nearly daily. In nursing school, I gained about 30+lbs from snacking on white cheddar popcorn while studying. And I may sneak a piece of cake from time to time. (See Where it began. for a brief run down)
So, I made some changes. Some happened quickly and cold-turkey, like stopping my excessive drinking of sodas (Just stop it already!). Others changed slowly and over time. Making small tweaks as I went along. Even as I write this, I am snacking on of those small changes. Stovetop popped corn instead of your microwave popcorn. A simple change that was easy to make.
Eating meaningfully means a couple of things to me:
- Eating appropriate foods for your body. Not only have I tried to cut my caloric intake to an acceptable range for my body type and goals, but I have also tried to make sure that the foods I put in are going to be appropriate fuel (Are You Eating ENOUGH?) . When you begin to compare the caloric content of foods (let’s say white bread or whole grain) for example, you may see that although you can sometimes eat less calories while eating the foods we generally classify as unhealthy, they lack the nutrients that we would obtain from our other options. Choosing food options that have an appropriate caloric content as well as a noted nutritional value makes a huge impact. Remember, you can’t fix your health until you fix your diet. *Check out this video for a great explanation of this.
- Finding what feels good. So, Adriene Mishler always says to “Find What Feels Good”. Now, for me, food feels good. Like I mentioned earlier, food is a source of comfort for me. It can evoke a feeling of happiness or can bring back a fond memory. So, while I am more mindful of the kind and amounts of foods I eat, sometimes I veer a little off. I am not a salad girl. Not for me. They can be beautiful and nutrient dense, but I just don’t seem to have the taste for it. (I always said that I wouldn’t eat rabbit food. That I eat the things that eat salad. lol) So, although I know it would be a healthy choice it just doesn’t feel right to try to stuff it down for the sake of skimming a few calories off of my total. I want to enjoy my food. I’m not going to do that by mindlessly stuffing my face with a pound of lettuce just because it contains less calories than the slice of pizza. If having that small serving of chicken and dumplings is going to bring happiness and fond memories of my childhood, I would much rather savor that. Likewise, if having a chicken and veggie stirfry or a wholegrain muffin is what gives me the feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction with making meaningful decisions with my food choices, that is just as well.
So, eat meaningfully. Whatever that means for you. Hopefully, it involves choosing healthy foods that make your heart smile and your belly full.
Have a beautiful day!