Spring is a time of renewal. As the air warms up and flowers begin to bloom, most of us feel inspired to feel a sense of rebirth in our own lives. For many, that means some form of spring cleaning — decluttering our closets, wiping down our spice cabinet, you know the deal. And whether or not these choices are conscious, I see them happen all around me.
That said, spring is not just a good time to get rid of those old racing t-shirts that you only wore once (you know you have them). The sense of a fresh start in the air means it's also a great time to discard self-sabotaging behaviors, even if it feels uncomfortable to do so.
And I'm not just talking about starting to be more strict with your self-improvement goals, like trying to work out more or eat more kale. What about trying to be more patient with yourself? What about trying to treat yourself more like a friend would?
While most goal-setting around food takes the form of a weight loss program or special diet, there are so many other ways to set intentions and resolutions around food. One way I love to get on my own good side is by displaying my good will through food and celebrating my choices. So instead of beating yourself up about your food choices, why not celebrate yourself with food?
Here are some reminders to get started.
1. Leave the container, take the cannoli.
Unnecessary Godfather reference aside, ask yourself this: how connected do you feel to your food when it is in a takeout container? Probably not super connected, right? Well, putting your food on a plate doesn’t take much longer to do, though it certainly encourages you to pay more attention to how you eat. It is the difference between the way your spouse looks at you when you are in sweats versus when you dress up.
Even if you must eat at work, you can keep a plate at your desk to make it seem more significant. Sure, the act of eating is something we do everyday because we need fuel to survive. Yet it can be a sacred act rather than a routine one. So choose to make it sacred!
2. Cooking for one can be more than popcorn for dinner.
You don’t need to have another person around for a meal to make it special. What if you considered the idea of eating a meal with yourself, as opposed to "by yourself"? Simply taking a moment to reframe your approach to eating a meal alone can transform your relationship to both food and to yourself.
So whip up some paleo pancakes on the weekend for yourself and dive into a stack for one. Make the soup recipe you bookmarked and keep the yummy leftovers just for yourself. The right food can act like a love letter to your body. Honor yourself.
3. What you love has a place in your life, period.
Ditch the guilt. If chocolate makes you feel good, then chocolate must be had! Of course, indulging yourself in the things that make you feel good doesn't need to be excessive. And in fact, allowing yourself the things you love will keep you from indulging excessively, as it won't be seen as "the forbidden fruit." Why deprive yourself of something that makes your body and mind happy?
Of course, it's important to be mindful of those foods that you LOVE but really just because they give you a quick rush of sugar or salt (you know, that bag of processed chips or gummy worms). In other words, what you should think about ditching instead is any food that makes you feel heavy, lethargic, grumpy or disconnected. These choices are different for everyone, but remember that your body is giving you signals all day, every day. So it is your job and yours alone to listen ... carefully.
4. Make mealtime your time to step back.
Eating is a time to kick your multitasking self in the behind. Stop viewing mealtime as something to get through, but instead as a pleasure, an excuse to be with people you love and a reason to pause.
Being efficient 100% of the time is not only impossible; it is the route to burnout. You have three (or more) opportunities every day to take a deep breath and practice mindfulness. Be in this moment. Be with your food. Appreciate every bite. Now is the moment to savor.
Every time you lift food to your lips, it is due to the work of so many people: farmers, producers, cooks, you. Food shows us how interdependent we are. Loving yourself through your food is a way to love the whole world.
If you need to kick-start your food habits, tuja wellness has a free 21-day Eat Clean Challenge beginning on Monday, May 4.