healthy relationship with food

What is a “healthy” relationship with food?

Have you ever noticed how the first and last bite of everything you eat is always the best?

Think about it for a second… is there anything better than that first sip of coffee every morning?  Sure, the whole cup is fantastic (and well needed!) but it is really that initial sip followed by the feeling of satisfaction and comfort from devouring the very last drop that consolidates the whole experience.

So if the first and last bites are the best why do we, as a society, struggle so much with the portion size in between?

My Bubby Suzie lived to be 104. She was the matriarch of our family and regularly brought our large family together to share delicious meals that she had spent days preparing.   Despite long hours in the kitchen she was always able to maintain her slim physic.  It is true that her regular visits to the local swimming pool may have helped but her motto was always “a little bit of everything”.  The concept of “a little bit of everything”, or simply using moderation, ties in so nicely with mindful eating as it forces us to bring attention to not only the first and last bite but to the middle and the sacredness of EACH bite.

Bringing mindfulness back into our relationship with food has the potential to support a much healthier and more balanced way of eating.

According to Jon Kabat-Zinn, an American professor emeritus of medicine, “mindfulness is a way of paying attention, on purpose and non-judgmentally, to what goes on in the present moment in your body, mind and world around you.”  To better understand our relationship with food, and ultimately the portion sizes we are choosing to eat,  it can be helpful to tune into what foods we are eating (whole foods or processed foods), the environment around us when we are eating (are we at a table engaged with others or in front of the television), the feeling we are trying to satiate by eating (are we feeding physical or emotional hunger) and how we acknowledge when our body has had enough (do we eat until we feel satisfied or are we simply bursting).

A healthy relationship with food does not have to be all or nothing.  When we restrict ourselves from eating certain foods, especially when we really enjoy them, it often leads to over eating and binging at a later time.  It is less about perfection and more about being aware and understanding why we do what we do and the impact it is having on our health.  Most of us know what behaviors are serving us and which are not.  At the same time we are also our own hardest judges. When it comes to diet we need to think big picture. One meal or one day is not going to make or break us. By keeping a relaxed and non-judgmental relationship with food we can set ourselves up for success and find a way of eating that resonates with the person we want to be and the lifestyle we want to live.

Our relationship with food should be fluid, full of curiosity, enjoyment, and gratitude.

So often the beauty of eating is less about how much we are eating and more about the characteristics associated with that food and the experience involved with eating it.  The smell, the taste, the texture, the feeling of warmth or coolness the food gives us. Being aware of the various aspects of eating including each bite in the middle and when our body feels satisfied allows us to find the balance we are striving for between eating the food that feeds our soul and maintaining a healthy weight.