Anyone else find it hard to eat for the pure joy of it? Are you so serious about your wellness practice that you go days without really enjoying a meal?
I’m not talking about the perfect-picture-Instagram meals. Those special-occasion nights out, those “nailed-it” moments in the kitchen, those gorgeous lattes from your favorite coffee shop.
I’m talking about the real-life meals. The breakfasts in a hurry, the lunches on-the-go, the dinners eaten on the couch through fog of exhaustion after the kids go to bed or a long day at work.
The other day I was watching my baby eat a roasted carrot with utter delight. Just a carrot and some butter and this kid was in heaven. Smacking his lips, giggling and smiling while he mashed the sweet vegetable with his 3 1/2 teeth. Pure joy.
It reminded me that eating can be joyful. In fact, feeding ourselves and sharing meals with other people provides countless moments to breath in a little happiness.
The problem is, when you make a shift towards eating “healthy” food, it’s easy to get sucked into a punishment/reward mindset. “If I eat these foods that are good for me, then I can reward myself later with something I will really enjoy.”
This is a false choice. It suggests you can EITHER enjoy your food OR eat food that is good for you. I call bullshit.
Some meals will be a 10+ on the nutrition and wellness scale, others will be hovering around a 2. That’s real life.
What if we decide it’s OK to enjoy BOTH of these kinds of meals? What if part of committing to a healthy lifestyle include a mandate to eat for the joy of it?
I tried this yesterday — this idea of simply being joyful about everything I ate. I had a somewhat easy work day, which allowed me the time and energy to cook balanced meals for breakfast and dinner. I decided to indulge a little at lunch at my favorite restaurant.
Instead of worrying about what I was eating, or doing mental calculations about how much of each food group I should be getting, I took a leap of faith and decided to relish every bite of every meal.
GAME-CHANGER!! Simple. And so damned effective!!
I felt calmer and less stressed because my mind was at ease and in the moment instead of spinning endlessly. It was a good day.
Of course, giving yourself permission to eat for the joy of it is easier if you have some steady wellness practices that help you stay balanced. More on that later.
For now, just give it a try. When you’re eating, let go of the stress and try to find some joy.
An added bonus: focusing on what you’re eating and how you feel about it will probably make you eat slower and get full sooner. So it’s a win-win.