I really invite you to just see these ideas as jumping off points; as ideas to play with and see how they feel for your body. Some may be beautiful and some may feel like they don’t feel right for you. Please adopt and reject as needed.
1. Pause and relax
How could it feel to pause for a moment, breath, do any kind of enjoyable or mindful practice that helps you feel calm and relaxed before starting a meal? I really encourage gentleness here. If you had to eat quickly standing over the kitchen sink or your relationship with food is currently in a place where this is not possible, can you release any shame and just take one tiny step when it is comfortable?
2. Eat according to cravings
The sheer number of ways to eat that are being promoted right now is......well honestly laughable. So many of them are so completely contradictory that often by the time I get to see someone in a session there is so much confusion and shame for not doing it “right.” Even working in this field, I often feel overwhelmed and like there is no way to easefully nourish myself.
Any time you feel lost, can you come back to what am I craving? Does anything sound appealing – even just a little? Is there anything that when you think of eating it, feels good, vitalized, relaxed, etc.
Maybe there is no answer, but just asking the question can be revolutionary. If there is an answer, is it possible to resist categorizing it in terms of “good” or “bad” and trust the body’s knowledge?
3. Chew excessively
You can count, challenge yourself to chew as many times as possible, savour the pleasure/flavour/texture of what you are eating, or simply just allow a little extra time for chewing. The more you break up your food here, the more ready your body will be to digest and the less it will have to work at breaking down the food.
4. Enjoy thoroughly
This one is ignored so often!! When was the last time you saw anything about enjoyment in a nutrition plan or a what I eat in a day video? Traditional Chinese Medicine has knows for hundreds of years that enjoying your food actually supports digestion, and gratefully Western Medicine is starting to see that too.
5. Incorporate warm cooked foods
In the same way as chewing, eating cooked warm foods supports digestion by doing some of the work for it. In TCM the digestion is seen as a fire and so any effort to support that fire will support more thorough digestion.
6. Explore thermal properties
Some of this is very intuitive: think of the foods you would want to eat on a very hot day. Things like mint, watermelon, cucumber, and dairy are all very cooling foods. If you were freezing, foods like stews/soups, meat, warming spices would perhaps be the more appealing.
You can use this to support how you are feeling on any given day. If you are feeling fractious, irritated, overheated, burning heat in the stomach, you can balance that with cooling soothing foods. If you are feeling lethargic, cold, stiff you can support yourself with warming foods.
7.Play with variety and colour
Exploring foods with play and curiosity rather than shame and guilt can be a game changer. Can you bring play to how many colours you can get in a meal? Can you enjoy exploring as much variety as possible – not from a place of should, but from a curiosity about what you enjoy?
As always, if this leaves you with any questions, please feel free to contact me. I am always happy to geek out this stuff.