Picture this: you are all alone and surrounded by your favorite foods. Piles and piles of the foods you love the most. The foods that call your name. The foods that you dream about.
Do you feel calm or are you breaking out into a cold sweat?
Cold sweat? Yeah, I thought so. (And I’m right there with you.)
That’s because we are eating with guilt instead of eating for pleasure. And I am OVER IT.
Eating with guilt is standing in your pantry and shoving the last piece of chocolate in your mouth, barely chewing, and swallowing as quickly as you can so you can hide the evidence…from yourself. Eating with guilt is ending a meal by saying “I shouldn’t have eaten that.” Eating with guilt is passing on dinner out with your friends because you won’t be able to resist the bucket of fries.
Eating with guilt is when you feel like food is running your life. Because it is. You obsess over the ingredients in everything you eat. You fear eating at someone else’s house. You feel sick after most meals. You frequently overeat. Or undereat. You “save up” your calories because you know you’re going to have a big dinner. You celebrate being “good” and beat yourself up when you’ve been “bad”. You search for “guilt-free” recipes. You have one or more low-fat or fat-free item in your kitchen.
Eating with guilty is nothing to feel guilty about. Most of us do it. In a calorie-obsessed thinner is better world it is really hard to banish the guilt. Hard but not impossible. Hard but critical.
Eating with pleasure isn’t about the sugar high you get from a piece of chocolate cake. Eating for pleasure is when you use high vibe ingredients and looking at your plate just makes you smile. It looks like this:
Pleasurable eating is slow, deliberate, and calm. You savor the bites and thoroughly chew your food. You actually taste your food. You breathe. And look up from your plate to engage in conversation. Eating for pleasure is loving your food so that it can love you back. You eat until you are satisfied and then you stop. You digest well. You feel energized and strong after meals. Food is awesome and you love it but it doesn’t rule your life. Or scare you. You can be surrounded by all of your favorite foods and not hyperventilate. When you infuse pleasure into your eating habits you let go of calories and don’t fear fat.
While I’m still a newbie at eating for pleasure I do know that it is about two things: surrender and self-love. Eating for pleasure isn’t about the taste of your food (although it should taste delicious!) but about how you FEEL before, during, and after the food.
When we think food about as pleasure our minds can quickly go to the ooey, gooey, indulgences like macaroni and cheese and red velvet cake. It’s critical that you know your body and your digestive system. I might feel great while eating the cheesiest mac and cheese (because it tastes amazing) I know that 5 minutes after the meal I will be doubled over in pain because I can’t digest the mac or the cheese. Does that sound pleasurable to you? Eating for pleasure is about eating the foods that make you feel vibrant and happy. It’s important that you honor your body and eat the things that it loves and stay away from the things that it can’t handle.
Bless your food
Woo-woo alert. I want you to BLESS YOUR FOOD. Taking a few seconds to silently bless your food automatically grounds you. You feel calmer and more connected with you food. My go-to blessing is “I love my food; my food loves me.”
Prepare your own food
View preparing your food as a meditative experience. Listen to music or talk with your partner and take the time to prepare delicious meals. You’ll feel better about what you’re eating and be more invested in the meal. You’ll also have control over what you are and are not eating. In order to eat for pleasure you need to remove guilt and worry. As a beginner, it’s so much easier to do that in the comfort of your own kitchen.
Don’t be afraid of food
Fear is the opposite of pleasure. And fear has no place on your plate. My coach once told me that if the choice was between stressing out over kale and chia or eating the junk without worry she rather I eat the junk. Aside from food allergies or sensitivities, stress makes you sick. If, while eating cookies, you are telling yourself that you shouldn’t be, that the cookies are going to make you sick or worse yet – fat – you are bound to feel both sick and bloated before you finish the final cookie. Our thoughts create our reality. If you fear food it will take you down. So, if you are afraid of something, don’t eat it. Seriously. Don’t eat it until you’re no longer afraid of it because if you do the cycle of fear just gets stronger.
View all of your meals and snacks as treats. You are treating your body to a healthy and delicious meal. Be sure to include your favorite flavors in your diet every single day. If you simply love chocolate, don’t let that chocolate bar that you picked up last week hang out alone in the back of the pantry. Make a point to enjoy a few squares each day and really savor the experience. Eating for pleasure isn’t about saving the special items for the right time because it is always the right time! I love coconut and cinnamon – they make me feel great, taste amazing, and are comforting to me. So I make a point to add one or both to everything that I eat and the food then becomes special.
Pleasure isn’t found in scarfing down a huge plate of food, barely chewing, overeating, and still feeling unsatisfied because you didn’t taste or acknowledge your food. Pleasure is found in the ritual. In sitting down and looking at your food. Taking small bites and really chewing your food. Tasting each bite. Coming up for air and breathing in between bites. Enjoying a conversation over the meal. Allowing yourself the time to slow down.