We all need to eat — yet for so many of us, food can be a source of stress and turbulence. Our society is obsessed with physical appearance, and this can easily contort the way we relate to food and to ourselves. For this reason, it is crucial that we be mindful and caring when it comes to food and nourishment. Below, you’ll find five simple ways to reduce stress with food and get more in touch with the inner wisdom of your body.
1. Pick Foods that Feel Good to You
Next time you are hungry, ask your body, what do you really need? Observe your cravings with a gentle curiosity. Give yourself the freedom to eat foods that you genuinely desire.
It takes time to cultivate an intuitive relationship to food. But if you practice giving daily voice to your body’s inner wisdom, you will open the door to true satiety- both physically and spiritually.
2. Go Slow
Eating slowly is one of the best ways to reduce stress. Aside from the numerous health benefits — improved digestion, decreased likelihood of heartburn, bloating, and post-meal sluggishness— taking abundant time to nourish your body is an essential form of self-care.
Be generous with yourself and make eating a sacred experience. Find a space free of distractions, take time to taste and chew, and breathe in between bites. Our society prioritizes excessive busyness, so it may feel uncomfortable to intentionally slow down several times a day. Feel into any discomfort that arises, and challenge any limiting beliefs you have about genuinely pausing. Rebel against the narrative that you need to be in constant action in order to be worthy. In time eating will become a ritual in which you honor your body.
3. Use All of Your Senses and Be Present
Perhaps it’s the sound of a maple-rosemary-roasted walnut crunching in your mouth, or the sight of steam delicately puffing out of a butternut squash soup as you twirl your spoon in the bowl— no matter the food, allow eating to stimulate and inspire the full range of your senses.
Thoughtfully engage with the sights, sounds, textures, and smells and savor the experience. Cultivate an electric sense of presence during meal times, giving your food your full attention in the same way you would your best friend.
4. Connect to Pleasure
When we’ve spent our entire lives bombarded by the idea that some foods are “good” and others are “bad,” it can be difficult to take true, uninhibited pleasure in what we eat. The diet industry clouds our brains with words like “cheat meals” and “guilty pleasures,” teaching us that indulgence is weakness, and that self-denial is a sign of strength and control.
Want a relationship to food that is bursting with pleasure? The first step is to banish shame and guilt from the fuel you give your body. Allow your food to comfort you. There is a huge relief when you let go of hyper-vigilance and simply enjoy, without constant guilt lurking behind something tasty and wonderful.
5. Let Go of Your Inner Critic
It takes time to heal from the destructive narrative that our personal worthiness is connected to the size of our bodies. We are brought up to believe that being fat is the worst thing we can be, and told we must limit our consumption out of fear that we will (God forbid) take up too much space.
And when we put ourselves down for what we eat, we’re injecting that judgement into the food itself. Our self-criticism lingers, and stress echoes throughout our bodies during the entire digestive process and beyond. It’s a cycle that lowers our frequency and keeps us stuck in limiting beliefs that do not serve our higher purpose.
So give yourself and your body some peace of mind and let go of your inner critic. When you transform your relationship with food, you transform your relationship with yourself.
I’m a healer, teacher, and licensed therapist sharing tools to help you relieve stress and restore well-being.