Food is necessary, that there is no doubt about, BUT how many of us have ever stopped to consider how and why we eat the way we do? Has the choice come from us? By that I mean is what and how we feel to eat based on what we have been led to believe it should be? Is food our comfort of choice, our ‘go to’ when things get tough or do we simply want to avoid feeling what is going on around us? Whatever the reason, it is time we stopped to consider: is how we are eating truly supportive?
Over the years I made a conscious choice to begin to look at food on different levels – the impact it had and why I allowed it to rule my life and my choices.
Feeding myself was one thing, a level of responsibility that went without saying, but that level of responsibility was quite a watered-down version to that which I live today.
In the past, food was my ‘go to’, my comfort, what I chose over feeling what was going on around me. Never did I stop to consider how what I ate impacted on my body or me. Nor did I ever consider that it would dull my senses, stop me from being able to make decisions from a place of clarity rather than a place of overwhelm.
For me, overwhelm came because I was left feeling distinctly different after I ate to how I felt prior to eating. I found that I had a sense of clarity before a meal that I did not have after. I would often feel tired, heavy and bloated after a meal with certain foods having more of an effect than others. So I began my own experiment, one that only required a constant honest observation – to stop, feel my body, how it felt before eating, and then how I felt after eating.
How did I feel after particular foods? Did some foods have a greater impact than others? Did the quantity and time I ate impact on my behaviour, emotions and choices? There was always a lot to consider, and at times I would be on auto pilot and just eat, of course paying the price afterwards and realising eventually that it just wasn’t worth it.
I began to appreciate and enjoy the clarity, vitality and awareness that came with eating to nourish and support me rather than to dull and avoid me. The obvious was soon pointed out to me – the higher the sugar content, the more stimulating it was, or if it was more carbohydrates, then my body would be left feeling heavy, lethargic and at times quite irritated. My train of thought was also disrupted and my attention to detail was nowhere near where it usually was. Coping with life was always more difficult when I opted for food from a perspective of avoidance, convenience or habit.
Caffeine and alcohol were no brainers… they were the first to go. The impact they had on my body was obvious and so was my behaviour once they had been consumed. Other foods such as carbohydrates and sugar containing foods were next to go on my list. And as the awareness in my body deepened, so too did my list of foods to avoid grow.
The way and quantity I ate, as well as the preparation and storage of my food, changed and developed into more of a routine and ritual. The way I shopped, stored and prepared my food became an occasion. It was something I enjoyed – it was fun, there was no pressure, it was neither a chore nor a rush. Throwing a meal together or grabbing take-out simply for the sake of having something to eat no longer felt supportive or nourishing. My meals became about supporting my body to feel vital, not heavy or weighed down. After a meal, I still wanted to feel like I had energy, not like I needed a nap.
Ironically, I thought I had always eaten reasonably healthily, but looking at how what I ate impacted my body on a deeper level showed me that eating what I thought was healthy was not really ‘it’. I could really begin to feel the importance of listening to my body, eating what I felt to eat and allowing myself to feel how what I chose to eat left my body feeling.
Many of us have a tendency to eat food and avoid feeling how what we ate actually makes us feel. I know I never considered that food had such an effect on me, other than contributing to my weight or making me feel extremely full.
Eating became about bringing a deeper level of responsibility to my life and the choices I make. Shopping for food, cooking and eating food now holds a new understanding and a deeper awareness, an opportunity to bring the use of food back to a true purpose, one that allows me to feel what I need to eat, and eat what I need to support me to feel light and vital.
I cook what I eat, I love what I eat and I absolutely love how what I eat allows my body to feel everything all of the time, even though at times this can be uncomfortable and challenging. And yes, like perhaps most people I often get the urge to dig into more roasted almonds than I know I need, or eating multiple spoonfuls of cake mixture but the way I feel after eating any foods that do not truly support me is so much worse than the 5 seconds of stimulating flavour I may get at the time. So the challenge I feel within myself to not eat that food can be very uncomfortable, but the after effects of eating foods that do not support me last a lot longer than the actual flavour does.
Now the uncomfortableness is less uncomfortable. I have a marker in my body of knowing how I feel eating a diet comprised of foods that truly support and nourish me, compared to the feeling of overwhelm, bloating and exhaustion I once felt after indulging in foods that did not truly support me.
Sure, society may say that we need to eat a particular way, but have we stopped to question that perhaps society may be wrong – that there is actually a way to eat that supports our body to be truly vital and have a level of health and wellbeing that surpasses the current ‘norm’?
By Nicole Serafin, Tintenbar NSW, Age 45yrs