Many people these days are very busy and don’t really take the time to connect with their food. Even non-busy people may neglect the “awareness” of eating. Are you mindlessly eating? Or, are you conscious of what food you have on your plate and the action of eating it?

You become connected with your food when you are aware of what you are putting in your mouth, how it nourishes or depletes you, and how it makes you feel. For example, if you eat an apple, you can connect with it by being aware of all the sensations you experience while consuming it. Feel how your teeth break through the skin of the apple and how the juice emerges once you sink your teeth in. Taste the sweetness as you chew. Feel the acceptance as you swallow and understand the apple will provide you with vital nutrition. Does this make you feel good, bad, or indifferent? Does it satisfy a need for sweets or energy? Does it fill a void or satisfy your hunger? Being aware of how you feel could make the difference in how your body accepts that food. You may actually receive more nutrition from your food when you are aware of and connected with it.

Go through the same level awareness when you consume “junk food.” Let’s say it’s a piece of chocolate cake. First, if you “choose” to eat the cake, understand “why” you are choosing it. Are you choosing to eat it because you are craving it or because you just felt like having a treat? If you are craving it, why are you? Are you missing nutrition somewhere in your diet? Are you missing something in your life? Are you bored, depressed, tired, or experiencing some other emotion that may be drawing you toward that piece of cake? Understanding “why” can help you break food addiction cycles, or simply allow you to enjoy something that you conscientiously choose to eat. There’s no fun in eating something you feel guilty about. This defeats the purpose of a “treat.” So, if you choose to eat a treat, enjoy every last bite! At least in doing so, you will receive some benefit from that food just out of the pure joy of eating it.

Finally, in connecting with your food, you can make food selections based on how you feel and your own nutritional needs. If you’re feeling too “flighty,” eating some “grounding” foods like root vegetables may help settle your mind. On the contrary, if you’re feeling too grounded and lethargic, eating a salad may lift your spirits and energy level. If you’ve had had too much sugar, protein may make you feel more balanced. However, if you’ve been consuming too much protein, you may crave sweets. Keep in mind that choosing a natural sugar, like a piece of fruit, will balance you better than unnatural junk food, which could cause even more cravings and send your body further out of balance.

Connecting with your food allows YOU to control your food instead of your food controlling you. It all starts with becoming aware of what you are eating. Take a personal challenge and see if you can connect with your food this week. If you have family living with you, make it a family challenge. Have an open discussion about your food and how it makes each of you feel, understanding that each of you may feel very differently. Have any thoughts on this subject? Please feel free to share some of your thoughts or personal discoveries on connecting with your food.

By Gina Van Luven
Director of Nutrition Education

This article is for nutrition information purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. Always seek the advice of a qualified health provider with any health concerns you may have. The information in this article is not intended to promote any specific product, or for the prevention or treatment of any disease.