By Marija Eljuga | Featured Contributor
Most of us find it hard to eat less than we would want to, experiencing constant craving for more food or kind of food that we are struggling to separate ourselves from. How unhappy does this make us feel? Then when we give in to our cravings, we feel self-reproach, self-loathing, shame, guilt. What a nightmare of our daily experience?! When we ‘manage’ to deny ourselves, working so hard to lose some weight, our body and our mind do not forget. In sensing, feeling and thinking we ‘know’ that we have denied ourselves; the pleasure of eating what we want, is our due. Before long, we make it up to ourselves; one way or another. The weight is back on…, or some other diversion equally remorseful. A constant cycle of harm/discomfort and defense against it. Constantly unhappy, constantly in a struggle. Wonder if there is another way?
Another Look at Emotional Eating
Today I want to say something about how we can use a different approach to our eating. It only requires a promise to ourselves that we shall be present to our whole experience of eating. That is all.
When we want to eat something, could we try to enjoy it with all of our senses? Engaging with the sensations of it, feelings and thoughts. Let’s say I am biting this apple / tomato / chocolate / item of food I enjoy. The tastes in my mouth…smell…visual aspect, touch in my hands, on my lips. Every thought is an experience. Our experiences are made of thoughts, feelings and sensations. Every thought will have its corresponding feeling and its corresponding sensations. Let’s have them all. Let’s feel, sense and think. Emotional eating implies avoidance of emotions by distracting ourselves with food, we barely notice enter our mouth and quickly it’s gone out of it. Gone out of our awareness, keeping us impoverished and unhappy, however much we eat.
Embracing the Experience
How about if instead we decide, let’s engage it fully emotionally (feeling), via sensations in our body, and the cognitive meaning of eating our meal. The juices, the taste, the texture of what we are eating. As we bring our attention out of god-knows what desert we feel ourselves lost in, and hold it fully on our eating each morsel of food, to fully enjoy it.
If it helps, we may recall that our digestive system “knows” the food is arriving through the feeding channel, past the pancreas, into our stomach. Our whole body system responds happily at the information of nourishment. What a joy to be present to. Our body is in uproar, why not be aware of some of it?! Each sensory input is an experience made of thoughts, feelings and sensations.
There may be days when we don’t wish to think about any of this. We may feel we only want to eat, and nothing more whatsoever. It may feel at times even that all is grey, and therefore we don’t want to bother thinking about our thoughts/feelings/sensations. We all have felt this way at times. I have one little tip here, should it help us out. If we take a mirror while we are eating and look into our own eyes, we may see ourselves beyond our current mood. When we look in the mirror, beyond the make-up, beyond the shape of our eyes, but only inside the black dot in the middle, the empty space, we may be able to connect with the constant self, the unchanging spirit we are, the life that we are, the constant loving observer of all of our experiences, of all of our moods, of all of our struggles.
Being Present to Self-Love
Observing, being present, unwavering, non-judging, unchanging, it may get obscured to our conscious attention at times, but it’s always there nevertheless. It wants to be present to all we experience; all we think, feel and sense. To all inputs we receive and send out. This is one way of reaching ourselves despite our uncooperative mood at times. We can send messages of love to ourselves through this point in the mirror. Morsel of food, taste, smell, texture… I love my belly, I value myself.
When we allow ourselves to fully experience the joy that we are seeking anyway when we nourish ourselves, as well as when we comfort eat or eat emotionally, we feel satisfied more and more fully with each morsel. A few morsels of food then, a small plate of food may feel like a banquet of pleasure. Thoughts, feelings, and sensations of the joy of eating. Each emotion, a warm feeling in our belly (as the common phrase already hints at) is an experience, made of thoughts, feelings and sensations.
Wishing you lots of joy.
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Thank you, Benjamin
Insightful piece. Good job. Keep it up.
Thank you Phoebe for posting this and for you lovely subheadings and illustration. I need to learn from you. 🙂
Thank you for allowing me to share it on PhoebeMD! 💜