I dream of a world where we all truly love the experience of eating nourishing foods.
But, you may find that instead of pleasure, food elicits neutral or even negative thoughts and emotions.
Maybe for you, food is nothing more than fuel and you could care less about where it came from or what’s in it.
Or, perhaps food elicits thoughts of fear, anxiety, judgment, stress, and guilt.
I want something different for you.
I want food to make you to feel grateful, happy, energized, nourished, satisfied, and joyous.
Here are five ways to get there…
1. Slow down and check in.
When is the last time that you truly savored every single bite of a meal? (Have you ever done this?!)
It’s amazing how often we check out during meal times. I get it, we’re busy but multi-tasking our way through mealtimes is a recipe for dissatisfaction (and often times overconsumption too).
Before preparing your next meal, pause. Take a breath. Ask yourself, “What do I want to eat? What will nourish my body? What will satisfy me right now?”
During your meal, check in every few moments. Consider the taste and texture. Consider your hunger and fullness. Ask yourself whether you feel satisfied. (If yes, stop eating.)
Simply adding more mindfulness to your meals is one of the greatest ways to increase enjoyment while also nourishing your body, so take the time to pause and consider the present moment.
2. Focus on nourishment, not numbers.
As a society, we are becoming more obsessed with nutrition but less and less happy and healthy. How can this be?
Back in the day, how did we survive without knowing our basal metabolic rates or how many grams of protein we needed or how we could obtain iron from plants when there weren’t animals to hunt?
“How,” of course, is intuition. By eating a variety of foods that appeal to our taste buds and make us feel well-nourished and satisfied.
Keep nutrition in mind (it will take away some of the guesswork of nourishment) but place more emphasis on the way that you, as a unique individual, feel before, during, and after eating various foods. You’ll enjoy meals way more and also get the nutrition that you need too.
Your body is smart, honor the feedback it is giving you.
3. Maximize flavor.
I think way too many people think of “healthy food” as being bland, tasteless, and boring. (Usually these people are also equating “healthy food” with something like a plain chicken breast, steamed broccoli, and plain brown rice.)
This is so wrong.
Whole foods are flavorful, delicious, and incredibly satisfying – sometimes you just need to learn how to put them together.
So, get excited about cooking. Try a new recipe. Take a cooking class.
Use fresh herbs, seasonal produce, olive oil, and other flavorful ingredients.
Eat a variety of colors and textures.
(I wrote an entire post on boosting flavor here.)
Healthy eating is anything but boring. If you’re not loving whole foods, you’re not doing it right.
4. Connect with your food.
Unfortunately, as a society, we have become so disconnected from our food. Most of us no longer need to gather, farm, or hunt our own dinners. Thanks to take-out and microwaves, we don’t even need to prepare them ourselves either.
Our modern day food system saves us time and is amazingly convenient – but the system is not without its own limitations.
Its pretty easy to go an entire day, week, month, even year without giving the origins of our food much thought. But have you ever noticed how much better a tomato tastes when it was painstakingly cared for in your own garden? The way you seem to savor sushi a little bit more when you have observed the TLC that went into its preparation?
Food is almost always more enjoyable when we feel more connected with it, so take a moment before each meal to consider everything that went into its cultivation and preparation.
Express gratitude for each meal and feel the sense of joy that you’ll get in return.
5. Release judgment.
I wrote recently about my own personal experience with food judgment and guilt but its worth mentioning again, especially since we’re talking about loving food.
Have you ever “broken down” and ordered dessert at a restaurant, only to feel more and more guilty and “bad” with each bite?
Food (especially dessert!) is meant to be loved and enjoyed. Release fear, judgment, and other negative emotions that you have tied to eating certain foods. Foods are not “good” or “bad” and you aren’t “good” or “bad” for eating them either.
Foods can be both physically and emotionally beneficial – and there isn’t anything wrong with either form of nourishment.
How do you create a truly enjoyable eating experience?