If you struggle to love your body, you’re not alone. In fact, it’s rare to meet someone who feels completely confident in their skin. With the amount of media attention focusing on what we “should” look like, we all have skewed perceptions of our own appearance. But, you know what? You’re beautiful. To help you realize this, I’ve shared one of my most powerful practices here in this blog. It has helped me go from a place of shame and self-hatred, to treasuring my body.
Without embarking on a journey to love my body more, I’m not sure I would be here today. As a survivor of abuse, a transgender individual, and someone living with a chronic illness, I have had a complicated relationship with the body I live in. No matter your past, mass media and societal beauty standards make it hard for us all to love our bodies.
Starting to accept and recognize this beauty within yourself can be difficult. It was a huge challenge for me, but I’ve managed to go from struggling to look at myself in a mirror to now loving how I look. Through the process of conscious eating, my favorite self-loving exercise, you can reclaim a sense of respect for your body—inside and out. The best part? This exercise doesn’t take any time out of your day.
What Does “Conscious Eating” Mean?
Conscious eating is about how you eat, not what you eat. You can keep eating all the chocolate you want. You can learn to love your body no matter what food you eat every day. That means, whether it’s an organic superfood salad or potato chips, conscious eating is something you can change your life with.
Since conscious eating isn’t about the content, but rather the style you eat it, it’s more of a mindfulness practice than a health challenge. It’s about realizing how much feeding yourself is an act of love. Without food, our bodies would wither and eventually we could no longer live. The very fact we are bringing in fuel through food is incredible. The fact our bodies can accept, digest, and use this fuel is even more amazing.
How to Practice Conscious Eating:
- Aim to practice conscious eating once a day. During this time, you want to treat it like you’re practicing a meditation, so make sure there aren’t any distractions (like TV playing, music, and so on).
- As you gather the food you are eating (scooping the salad onto the plate, pouring potato chips in a bowl, etc.), stay present with your actions. Instead of just dumping the salad, pay attention to the subtle sounds it makes and how it looks. Make preparing and eating food a complete sensory experience, from beginning to end.
- Before chowing down, close your eyes and imagine the path this food took to get to your plate. Envision the salad ingredients being picked, processed, brought to your store, then carried by you to your home. With the potato chips, imagine the potatoes growing under the sun, them being harvested, processed, packaged, and placed in a store near you. Honor the path of your meal and how much energy went into making what you’re about to eat.
- Begin eating when you want. As you do this, remain aware of all of your senses. Pay attention to the tastes, textures, sounds, smells, and so on. It’s through these that the body communicates with us, so when we’re engaged with our senses we are telling our body we are willing to pay full attention to it. This is why conscious eating is a great way to love your body.
- When you complete your meal, take a moment to examine how your body is feeling. Are you pleasantly full, still really hungry, ate too much? Check in with yourself and your body’s needs, start to treasure its own intelligence.
- As you end, thank yourself and the earth for this meal. Then, thank your body for accepting it, digesting it, and letting you know when it’s hungry. These are all beautiful things!
If you find that consciously eating a whole meal is too much, start by doing this with a small snack, or just one or two spoonfuls. No matter how much of this you do, it will make a powerful impact and help you love your body more.
Expand Your Conscious Eating Practice
- Start the process of conscious eating by practicing conscious grocery shopping. When you’re in the store, stay mindful of the textures, temperatures, and feelings of the food you’re grabbing. If you’re a little more intuitive, get a sense of the energy the food holds and how connected you feel to it.
- Cook with love. If you want to share this conscious eating practice with the people you care about, you can use this to infuse your food with compassion and mindfulness. Instead of treating cooking like a chore, pay attention to all your senses, just like when you eat the meal itself.
- If you want to and can, change your diet. This exercise will naturally allow you to hear your bodies needs better, so you may notice yourself craving healthier food. Listen to your body, whenever possible, and you will add an extra dimension to this practice. Conscious eating alone has helped me combat anemia, simply by recognizing when my body craves high iron foods!
The Awesome Effects of Conscious Eating:
You’ll love your body more. When you combine loving attention, acceptance, and respect together, you get compassion. The process of conscious eating combines all of these elements and, over time, you’ll notice that you love your body in a whole new way. The more often you practice this, the faster love will enter into your life.
You will feel more connected to the world around you. The practice of honoring where your food comes from will help you remember to thank the earth for its gift. When reflecting on all the hands that made it possible for you to eat, you will feel more connected to humanity and the people who made your meal possible. You may also feel a greater desire to protect the planet or support agricultural worker’s rights.
Your cravings will reduce. An incredible (and surprising) effect this practice had on me was that I stopped craving sweets, highly processed food, and no longer ate more than my stomach could handle. I used to fall into stress eating, but now eating has become a more sacred practice. Although I’m not infallible, I am more in tune with what my body does and doesn’t want. And sometimes, yes, it does want chocolate. Through this practice, you’ll learn to respect your body’s digestive desires, which means feeding it the perfect amount of food for you in that moment.
A sense of presence and peace will grow within you. Since this is a mindfulness exercise, similar to a meditation, you’ll naturally become more in tune with the present moment. This is a great way to find peace or even clear any sneaky emotions you’ve been distracting yourself from. The mental cleanse this practice causes is another amazing and unexpected benefit!
You’ll experience greater intimacy with those you love. On an emotional level, any mindfulness exercise can increase the connection you have to those you practice it with. You will also find, even if you try this alone, that you are more in tune with your own body. This can lead to greater confidence and intimacy (emotional or physical) in any partnership you have.
Remember, conscious eating allows us to listen to and respect our bodies, which is a great act of love. So, today, go out there and love your body a little extra.
Try this: Consciously eat one meal today. After you do, I’d absolutely love to hear you express the changes you noticed in the comments! Did you enjoy the practice?