Written by Andrea Manitsas
We all do it – well, most of us. We're checking our email, texting so and so, the TV's humming along in the background and we've got a mental checklist of all the things we need to do running through our minds, all the people we need to call, bills we need to pay. We look down at our plates only to find the food has vanished without any recollection of having eaten it. We exist in our heads and let our bodies run on automatic, thus missing out on one of life's great pleasures, the food we nourish our bodies with. And where does this compulsive eating lead us to but the ubiquitous land of overeating.
It's time to reclaim these beautiful bodies of ours. And we start that by beginning to inhabit them in the moments that count, like while taking in sustenance. Try these tips to become more embodied and notice the shifts in your attitudes toward food, your body and mindful living in general.
- Check in with your body every time you're about to eat, or the idea of eating enters your consciousness. Place your hands on your belly. Let it soften. Ask it, "Are you hungry?" What are you hungry for?" And listen to what comes up. Maybe you'll find that you're not hungry at all; you're just stressed over a big project or some family drama and using food as an escape (check out our 7 Secrets for Stress Relief that don't involve food). The longer you sit with yourself in contemplation the more truth will be revealed to you about your habits.
- Let eating become the sacred act that it is. Allow your senses to become completely absorbed in your food – smelling, touching, seeing, tasting, chewing slowly and savoring every bite. A good way to set the tone is to say a prayer before you eat, grace if you will. Thank the earth for providing you with such delicious sustenance, while holding your palms over your plate. Come into a place of gratitude, and be present to your meal. Now that's healthy eating.
- Learning to be present in your body is something that will only arise through practice and dedication, and some lifestyle shifts. Giving yourself permission to slow down and setting your multi-tasking self aside will help you to get back in touch with yourself. Mind-body activities such as yoga and meditation will build your relationship to your body. Start off by treating your mealtimes with the respect they deserve by simply being mindful. Eating can be your meditation.