who says you have to eat every last bite?

Chances are you're a grown ass human, and your mommy isn't around to tell you to finish your salad, honey. So why do you eat every last bite?

You could probably list tons of reasons:

  • I don't want to waste it.
  • I feel bad for the starving kids in Africa.
  • I'd rather get the instant gratification of those last few bites of my burrito bowl in my mouth and feel uncomfortable later than deprive myself of its yumminess.
  • It's a habit. I might not even realize I do this.

....You get the point.

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Here's my story:

Today, I prepared myself a salad with the expectation that I was going to eat it all. Every last bite. I was hungry. About 3/4 into my salad eating experience, my body told me to stop.

How did I know my body was telling me this? Why would anyone want to talk to their body?

Your body doesn't lie. It gives you signs and cues to communicate important messages to you about what's up. One of those signals is designed to tell you when you're hungry and when you're not. Unfortunately, most people these days have completely shut this voice up, ignored it completely and are shoving cupcakes in their faces, or they hear it but are on the schedule of the societal norm (breakfast, lunch and dinner) whether they are hungry for it or not.

I've developed a healthy, communicative relationship with my body and it's taken me years. We've had some rocky times together (my body has digested many things it did not want, and let me tell you, it was NOT happy), but we've also learned to become friends. Now I listen to my body. I've learned that it talks to me all the time.

The more I listen, the better I feel.

One way I've developed a beautiful relationship with my body is by simply being willing to be aware of it's signals. More likely than not, you or someone you know was raised to eat everything off their plate. There would be feelings of guilt and anxiety if you didn't eat the last brussel sprout. But guess what? I'm telling you that you DON'T HAVE TO. Don't finish everything off your plate, and most importantly, don't feel bad about it!

Wow, what a revolutionary idea. When I listen to my body's subtle signals, I feel really good. And when I don't, I feel overly stuffed, like I'm gonna explode, or a develop a slew of digestive issues. Bottom line: it's not cute when you fart in yoga class.

How am I supposed to know when I'm hungry/satisfied? How do I eat to avoid bloating/gas?

Check in with your body. Close your eyes and breathe. Become aware of your body - do a mental scan of your body and relax from head to toe. Chances are, your stomach is tight, your jaw is clenched, and you're hunched over your food. Sit up straight and roll your shoulders back down your spine. You may realize you're not even hungry. Learn how to recognize your cravings and why you're having them. Cravings are an amazing way to determine what your body is lacking (salt, sugar, hot, cold, wet, dry, etc.)

Eat slowly with no distractions. This means no TV, iPhone, Facebook, Instagram, Netflix, newspaper, music, anxiety causing situations, people, or places. Don't eat in your car. Don't eat while doing anything! Just relax and eat! You'll realize how boring eating can be after each bite, and you will definitely eat less. Ideally, you're eating in a calm, relaxed environment with soothing people to be around and have let go of any tension or anxiety you're holding onto. Giving yourself this space will allow your body to speak to you so that you will clearly receive its important messages.

Aim to eat 5 ingredients or less. You've been there before: you load up a salad with 14 ingredients and you're uncomfortable, full, bloated, and your tummy is gurgling for the rest of the day. Not fun. Trust me, the less ingredients, the easier it is on the digestive system. Your body will say "thank you" in it's own special way.

Eat slowly. Don't forget to breathe. Give yourself enough time for your body to tell you when it's time to stop eating. Inhaling your food is shutting your body up from what it's trying to tell you. Putting down the fork in between bites helps. Chewing until liquid helps. Breathing helps. When you breathe you are giving your body vital oxygen to your organs for proper digestion. The slower you eat, the more space you are giving your body to tell you what it needs or doesn't need.

Listen when your body subtly taps you on the shoulder and says, "that's enough". Respect and honor your body when you just start to feel satisfied. This is truly an art form. Have patience and take some time to learn how to develop this practice.

 

If you've reached this point in your relationship with your body, congrats! If not, let me know what's holding you back from having an incredible relationship with your body. What kind of relationship do you have with your body, and/or what relationship do you want to create?