Food, glorious food! Indeed. Much can be said about the relationship between food and body-mind-spirit wellbeing.
Physically, food is increasingly known to have healing properties as well as illness-inducing ones. For many people, food has emotionally symbolic value far surpassing the relevance of its nutritional data. Many of us associate certain foods with self-soothing. Many of us eat food that is convenient. Many of us eat too much. Most of us eat too fast. Food and nutrition are subjects as politically charged as they are emotionally fraught for many of us.
Where The New Plan A is concerned, there are a few specific practices which address (a) what you eat and (b) how you eat it.
Regarding what you eat, consider foods that are fresh as opposed to packaged. If you eat packaged or “prepared” foods, take care to choose foods with the fewest preservatives. If you can’t pronounce an ingredient, consider whether you really want to ingest it! Consider reducing the amount of simple sugar and increasing the amount of green leafy vegetables and lean protein you consume. Reduce excess salt. If you consume caffeine, beware: caffeine fuels the body’s stress response. Emotionally, it amplifies anxiety and agitation. Absolutely continue enjoying your coffee or tea, but consider drinking less of it and stopping earlier in the day. Switch to water, which really is good for you and really does make a difference in how you feel. As for how you eat, listen to your mother: chew your food! And slow down.
Whether at home or on the go, some basic practices can go a long way toward improving digestion (and absorption), not to mention making eating more pleasant.
Try clearing a space (at your table and in your head) and sitting down to eat with a commitment to banish all thoughts or conversation about anything stressful. Some people like lighting a candle to signify mealtime as a distinct activity. Try to really taste your food. Express gratitude for it. Take a few mindful breaths before sitting down to eat. Take another few when you finish. Transition a bit more slowly back into activity. Remember waiting twenty minutes after eating before going swimming? Same idea. (Thanks again, Mom.) To summarize, what you eat and how you eat it has a lot to do with how you feel on every level. With a bit of attention to the what and the how of food and eating, you’ll get a leg up on your emotional misery faster than you might think.