We do many things out of love, but contriving our weekly menu isn’t often one of them. In fact, instead of being focused on what we are eating, we often eat whatever and whenever is the most convenient, and then go back to work.
In many cultures the act of preparing food itself is an act of love. When we cook for others, we put love into the recipe. Yet we often encounter a disconnect when preparing food for ourselves. Eating illustrates how we value our bodies and ourselves, however, we generally see eating and preparing a meal as a technical act rather than an emotional one. People who experience eating disorders, for example, are said to be exhibiting the issue as a reflection of how they feel inside. They may have a damaged or distorted self-image which surfaces as the disorder. One of the practices to reverse this is self-compassion. But, if we do this with our own diet and in our own lives we can eat more compassionately, feel better about what we are eating, and ourselves, perhaps even enjoy rather than resist a more heart-healthy and overall health-promoting diet.
Here are some ways you can eat more compassionately and improve your eating experience in a holistic sense.
We are told in our culture, as people in most cultures are, that we need to do our duty. Too much self-focus equates to selfishness. Low self-esteem and bad choices about food, is often the result. Psychologists find that self-criticism often leads to poor dietary behaviors. Instead, practice self-love when preparing a meal you alone will eat. Be mindful of that love and feel it in your heart, as you move forward through the task. You just might find you make better choices as a result.
What’s nicer than sharing a meal? But be careful who you share one with. Multiple studies have shown that our friends, coworkers, and others around us influence the way we eat. Yet, eating together can create a sense of belonging. In fact, research has discovered that the elderly who share meals together eat the healthiest, and the best. Those who were isolated had a diet with the lowest nutritional intake. Lastly, keep the majority of your diet plant-based. Fruits and vegetables contain the most heart protective phytonutrients. Leafy green vegetables are filled with all kinds of beneficial compounds such as phytoestrogens, carotenoids, chlorophyll, bitter alkaloids, and much more. Find plant-based foods that contain folates and nitrates, which help protect the heart. Consider your approach and attitude when it comes to eating. A little self-compassion can go a long way.