Make it Meaningful

I had a first session with a client today and we were talking about ‘comfort eating’ and snacking.  I told her to “Make it Meaningful” and she took a lot from this.  We continued to talk about how all the food we put into our bodies should be done with meaning and purpose.Upon deeper reflection, I decided this is a topic I’m pretty passionate about and I see a lot in my clients and friends so I wanted to dive deeper and share a post about it.

On the surface, this is change in a way of thinking in regards to activities like eating in front of the television, or at your desk, or in the car.  At that point, the food isn’t meaningful.  It’s a learned reaction of moving from a plate/container/bag/box straight into your mouth.  We don’t think about it, we barely chew it and before we know it, that food is gone and our fingers are brushing the bottom of the bag.  Then what? Guilt, Shame.  Holy Crap! I ate that whole bag?!  Those feelings often lead us to wanting more or something similar to relieve those symptoms.

What if I told you that you can eat the chips, cookies, etc  without feeling guilty?  Barring no known sensitivities, you should be able to tolerate the occasional food that might be outside your moral realm of ‘healthy’.  Honestly though, food doesn’t have morality, it doesn’t have feelings.  You have feelings and you are using food to respond to those.  It might be boredom, anger, sadness, loneliness, exhaustion, or even (who would’ve thought?) hunger! So when you eat ‘the’ food for any of these reasons – make it meaningful.  Sit down, get a plate and a fork (if appropriate) serve yourself whatever portion you feel comfortable with and enjoy the food.  Let yourself feel the feelings that made you want the food in the first place and don’t feel guilty about it.  Know the meaning behind the food.  Is it comfort?  That’s okay, but make sure it’s giving you the comfort you desire.  If it isn’t, reevaluate what you might need instead if your desire is to change your habits around food.

Let’s take a moment to briefly review digestion. Digestion is a North to South process and the brain is the first step of this process.  When we mindlessly eat, we miss out on that crucial initiation of digestion that triggers salivation and other enzymes that need to be produced. If we don’t think about our food before we eat it we might not break down the food fully and therefore not gain all of the beneficial nutrients that may be in there.  So if the meal isn’t meaningful and we aren’t getting any nutrients from it by not fully digesting it, AND we aren’t getting resolution of the feelings that we felt when we reached for it in the first place – is it something we want to do? Make it Meaningful.

Tips on making food meaningful:

  • Sit down while you eat it.
  • Portion out some in a bowl, on a plate, etc – don’t eat out of the container.
  • Take a deep breath before you eat.
  • Feel the emotions while you eat.
  • Chew slowly and fully – don’t guzzle it down. (same format as above)
    • You shouldn’t require additional water to swallow your food, if you do, chew more.
  • Evaluate how you feel afterwards.
  • Above all else don’t feel guilty.  If you forget to make it meaningful, just move on, it’s just food.

Which tips do you think you can implement into your daily food routines?  Do you have any other tips I didn’t cover? Comment below!