We are more than just a body with its needs and we are more than just a mind with its thoughts. We are a complex composition of mind, body, and soul. Our being is made up of all three parts. All three parts influence our emotions, thoughts, and actions. Understanding this is so important when looking at our eating behavior and motivation behind it.
We are not just a body, which needs nutrients. This is why how and what we eat isn’t just influenced by our physical needs.
Instead of only looking at what we eat, we need to start looking at how and why we eat. This switch can teach us a lot about who we are, and how we are actually feeling on a deeper level. So many of us use food or refrain from eating as an emotional compensation. It is known that certain kinds of food influence our mood, but our mood also influences our choice of food and eating behavior.
We need nourishment on all three levels of our being (mind, body, and soul) and sometimes we confuse our mental or spiritual need for nourishment with a physical one. As babies we receive our food either through breast-feeding or the bottle. Both forms of feeding imply physical and emotional closeness. For babies being fed is automatically accompanied by love, care, and attention. This connection somewhat stays within us, and some of us have a hard time developing an understanding of this deep emotional connection. It is no surprise that we compensate mental and spiritual needs for love, comfort, and closeness with food. Besides other social, familiar, and personal influences later on in life, this is a connection that was made already early on in our life as an infant.
Observing our eating behavior is a great tool to get to know ourselves better and listen to our needs. If we keep satisfying our mental and soul needs with food we will never feel happy and content, because that hole will not be taken care of. Additionally, it leads us to misunderstand our physical needs as well and ‘over nourish’ our body with food, which can in the long-term cause negative feelings, lower well- being and at times weight gain or weight loss.
Here are a few questions for you to help you explore your eating behavior:
- Have you ever eaten when sad, stressed, or not feeling good?
- Is your eating behavior influenced by your mood?
- In what way does the statement ‘you eat what you are’ apply to you?
- Are you aware of the nutritional components of the food you eat?
- How much time do you take for yourself to nourish all three parts of your being (mind, body, and soul)?
One very effective way of tapping into your eating behavior is mindful eating and observing yourself before starting to eat. In order to eat mindfully become aware of the nutritional benefits of your food, eat slowly, and really pay attention to the taste of the food and how full you feel after eating. Below you can find a little exercise introducing you to mindful eating.
Observing our eating behavior is a powerful tool to get to know ourselves, not just on the physical level but on the mental and spiritual level as well. It is another channel through which you can get in contact with yourself and get to know your self better. If you have any questions or comments feel free to write them down below in the comment section or send me an e-mail.
Wishing you all a great start of the week (for those in Israel) and for most other people a relaxing last day of the weekend. Being in Germany already I am one of the lucky ones who get to enjoy this Sunday as a weekend as well 🙂
Mindful Eating exercise
This simple exercise helps you to observe yourself before starting to eat, allowing you to notice whether your hunger might actually be mentally or spiritually and not physical.
- Sit comfortably, close your eyes, and take a few moments to observe your breath
- Start to slow down and deepen your breath, making the inhale as long as the exhale. Sense your belly expanding with each inhale and getting small with every exhale
- Focus on the breath and allow your mind to calm down, quieting your thoughts. This will allow you to look and feel the actual you and not the noise of the mind, which tells you to eat this food now
- Take about 20 breaths, you can count them, which will help you to calm down your mind and concentrate
- Now start to observe your self and notice how you are feeling. Is there anything that is bothering you? Are there any emotional needs, which are not fulfilled? Notice how you will answer these questions
- Now say to yourself: Today I will nourish my self with all its aspects in the best way. I will make sure to find the right nutrition for each part of my being. Repeat this sentence several times until you can actually feel it and not just think it
- Take a few more breaths here, allow your intention to sink in
- Slowly start to move your fingers and toes and open your eyes when you are ready
- If you noticed any needs inside of you, which are not connected to real physical hunger, take some time to write them down and think of ways of satisfying these needs.