5 Ways to Have a More Satisfying Relationship to Food

Having trouble feeling connected to the food you eat and your relationship to nourishing yourself? Movement towards a more peaceful, honest, and effortless relationship to food can feel like a huge leap. The thought of cooking, or even knowing how to stay healthy, can feel daunting. But it doesn’t have to. Are there small changes you can make to bring yourself closer to feeling nourished by what you eat and grounded by the role preparing it takes in your daily life? Try selecting one of the following small changes towards making food a source of strength and not stress:

IMG_18601. Let your senses guide you.

And not just your taste buds. If you feel depleted but don’t know what you’re missing, try chucking the grocery list and follow your intuition. Stand in the produce section and see what colors of vegetables peak your interest. Check in with your imagination: does the sound of crunching down on an apple appeal to you more than that of snapping a carrot? Engage the memory of sounds, smells, sight, and touch in asking your body what it needs.

Another favorite shopping exercise is letting your sense of smell guide you in a specialty tea or spice shop. Savory Spice Shop in Boulder is a personal favorite. Spend at least a half hour smelling the smells and imagine all the fun ways you can integrate them into a cooking concoction. Make shopping into a playful, whole body experience. You are more likely to feel inspired rather than daunted, and your body is more likely to get the nutrients it is asking for.

2. Set aside a fixed time to plan your meals.

We’ve all been there: You are tired from a long day at work, and remember it is your turn to cook dinner. You stay in the office a while longer to scan recipes online. Then you run to the store to pick up what you need. Get home and thaw the frozen fish. then begin cooking, all with the stress of just wanting to get it done so you can have something in your stomach after a long day. No wonder the thought of cooking is stressful!

While weekly meal planning may feel time consuming, it not only ends up saving time, but a lot of expended energy. Take a few minutes on Sunday to make a schedule for the week, and then get all, or most, of your supplies before the week starts.

Maybe on the night you know you are working late, your plan is to throw a pile of veggies in the crockpot in the morning. Or maybe its to whip up some yummy tacos that you know will only take you a half hour. Whatever it is, it is going to cost you zero energy during the week in worrying, planning, and shopping because all of that is already done. Your food is already in the fridge, and you already know that you didn’t sign yourself up for an unmanageable project. Plus, once you are in the routine, you’ll notice your favorites. And then you even take out the energy of trying to learn new recipes on days when you know you don’t have the time.

3. Plan for leftovers and snacks.

Planning is not just about making dinner easier; it’s about freeing up your mental energy throughout the entire day. Planning to make enough for leftover insures that you don’t have to spend more energy, money, and time than you need to having a good lunch. Even if you don’t have enough for a whole meal, maybe there’s enough to throw atop a salad or to mix into an omelet.

Keeping a few healthy snacks around also helps insure that you don’t throw together an unhealthy meal (or go pick one up) because you’re in the middle of an emergency blood sugar crash. It’s even ok to have a little snack while you are cooking. Give yourself permission to enjoy the process by not feeling famished.

4. Bring your spirituality into the relationship.

A few words of thanks before eating reconnect you with the food in front of you. If grace isn’t your thing, it can be helpful to spend a moment thinking about the journey the food on your plate took to get there. Think about how the entirety of the universe came together in that pile of peas: the soil, the rain, the sun, the farmer, the farmer’s mother, and her mother, and hers.  Growing a handful of your own food, shopping at a farmer’s market, and eating food according to its growing season in your climate are all ways to connect with your food on a more profound level.

5. Keep it simple.

There is a universe of possibilities in the good old-fashioned fruits, veggies, and proteins you’ve always known and loved. Develop a relationship with these. And with the spices that entice you. Let each meal be a creative process of bringing together the basics in new and interesting ways. Try saying goodbye for a while to the sauces and cans and packets so that the whole foods themselves may radiate their flavor. Try not to mute them with prepared foods or condiments. It may seem difficult at first, so try starting with recipes until you get the hang of improvising from scratch.

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Rachael Uris, MA, LPC is the owner of Atacama Counseling, LLC, offering sex therapy as well as individual and couple's counseling for issues surrounding sexuality, love, and pregnancy. All services are located in downtown Boulder, Colorado, and are provided in English and Spanish.
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