Are you an emotional eater? Emotional intelligence is a superpower, and it can profoundly affect your relationship with food (and with everything really) in a positive way. Do you have it? If not, no worries…it can be cultivated!
EI requires 4 things and today we will talk about the first one:
When cultivating EI, we practice empathy and compassion so we can be fully present and listen. When I’m working with clients, this is especially important because I want them to feel heard, valued, and safe so they will LEAN IN instead of shy away to the hard questions I ask that may make them feel vulnerable.
But cultivating EI is relevant to everyone because we all want our loved ones to feel this way, and we also want to make conscious, informed decisions rather than impulsive ones. It all starts with self awareness.
Are you an emotional eater? How aware are you of what’s happening before, during, and after you eat? (how much and what kinds of foods you’re eating, and why, and how do they make you feel).
Practicing mindful eating helps us become more in tune with what our body is feeling which is important for many reasons including cravings, stress, and digestion, and because there’s a delay between your body feeling full and your brain recognizing that feeling.
So slow down! Pause between bites! Chew well! Pay attention to the fragrance, texture, complexity of flavors, and the visual display of the food. Do you actually like them? How does it make you FEEL. This takes time and consistent practice, so try not to get frustrated with yourself. Practice empathy and compassion here.
Also pay special attention to your emotions!
Emotions show up in the body as sensations before they even become full cognitive thoughts. And before they becomes full cognitive thought, they’re already influencing behavior and decisions.
We want to recognize the sensations in our bodies and quickly connect them to the thoughts so we can easier work on changing behavior. It’s up to us to close that window a little more (mindful eating), so we can be more intentional about how we respond regardless of our circumstances. Because life is life, and it’s hard. Sometimes all we have control over are our responses.
Food is either healing or harming your body, and in times of stress, we are much more likely to reach for foods that harm us. We are not solely to blame for this. Sugar and flavor enhancers are so prevalent in our food supply that our brains have been tricked, and it has become a pattern over years. What we think, do, and pay attention to repeatedly over time can change the structure and the function of our brains. So it feels hard at first. We don’t solve this overnight.
It takes time and consistent practice to break behavioral patterns and change neurocircuitry, it takes time for our bodies to relearn what it really needs, and it takes time for emotional beings to learn a new emotional language of love through food. So just listen and feel for a while without expectation of any changes at first. Give yourself grace. Practice empathy and compassion. And reach out if you need some tips, direction, or accountability. I’m here to help.