How Emotional Intelligence Can Transform Your Eating Habits
Written by: Sara Wylie
Are you ready to take control of your eating habits and conquer your cravings?
It all starts with emotional intelligence.
What Is Emotional Intelligence?
Emotional intelligence is being able to identify what emotions you are experiencing, getting to the root of them and taking conscious action to benefit your personal growth. It’s being able to take control of your emotions, rather than allowing them to rule you. It’s developing self awareness and standing in your own power.
How Can This Be Applied To Eating?
Think of one of your favorite television cooking shows. Picture the cook and how they take a single bite of their newest food creation and instantly begin to savor and analyze it (how it tastes, what the texture is like, what different flavors they’re experiencing, how it’s making them feel).
This is a great example of what emotional intelligent eating looks like.
Emotional intelligent eating is being able to become aware of your food and determine not only how it tastes, but also how it affects your body and makes you feel.
Now here’s what I want you to do: grab something to eat.
Anything you want – you could grab some fruit or veggies, whip up some green juice, grab some leftovers from your fridge, pull out a protein bar, whatever you want.
Got something? Great. Don’t chow down on it yet – I’m going to take you through a simple, yet effective process of practicing emotional intelligent eating.
To prepare, do what you can to limit distractions and be in a quieter, relaxed environment. Especially when you are learning to eat with emotional intelligence and mindfulness, it’s important to put the phone down, turn the TV off and give yourself the space to really tune into yourself and your experience with what you’re about to eat.
READY? Let’s get started!
First off, I want to acknowledge your food. Express gratitude for what you are about to eat. Set an intent for why you are eating that food. Are you eating it for energy? Health? Nourishment? Or are you eating it for fulfillment, because you’re super hungry right now, or for enjoyment, because it’s a favorite treat of yours?
How you feel about your food and even the words you think and say about it can literally affect not only the food itself, but also how your body accepts it.
For instance, if you look at your food with guilt, shame or criticism, your body will be more likely to be negatively affected and take it as something that will discomfort it. On the other hand, if you look at your food with gratitude, love and intent, your body will enjoy it far better and take it as a positive reinforcement for your health.
Now I’m not saying you can transform a brownie into something as healthy as kale, but you can impact the way your body accepts and processes food, just through your thoughts and words alone.
Now, take a nice bite or sip of your chosen food. Don’t swallow it too quickly. Slow down, take some time to chew and savor the flavors bursting in your mouth and the texture of that first bite.
- What are your taste buds experiencing? Are you enjoying this chosen food? Or is it a food choice you usually eat to just tide yourself over?
- What thoughts does it bring to your mind? Any memories?
- Do you feel any initial bodily reactions? Are you salivating for more or is your gag reflex getting triggered?
- What emotions are coming up for you? Are they aligned with the intent you set for this food? Or are you experiencing emotions like regret or indifference?
Continue pondering these questions as you swallow and go in for another bite. Tune in to how well the food goes down and whether or not your stomach has any initial reactions to it as you continue to eat.
Go ahead and finish off that food (of course, take your time). When you are finished, notice what finished means to you.
- Did you eat the whole thing, or do you have food leftover? Was this a good portion size for you, or do you need to make some adjustments next time?
- How are you feeling? Do you feel satisfied, or could you eat more?
- What is your digestion experiencing? Is it taking the food well, or are you feeling slightly nauseated?
- Do you feel like the food you chose to eat is living up to the intent you set for it? Are you feeling energized, nourished, fulfilled, etc.?
- Is this food you would eat again, or would you rather avoid it? Why?
How was that experience for you? This was a taste of what eating with emotional intelligence and mindfulness is like. You can use these steps and thought processes during every snack and meal you eat.
- Limit your distractions – create a space where you can fully take in the experience.
- Acknowledge your food – express gratitude, set intent for it.
- Slow down while you eat – chew slowly, tune in and ponder about your experience, your reactions, your feelings.
- Analyze your experience afterwards – make decisions about whether that was a good food choice for you, or if you could make adjustments next time.
The more you do this process, the more natural it will become. It will get to a point where you won’t even need to put a whole lot of conscious effort into it, your thought processes and mindset will shift and your ways of experiencing food will change and become habit for you.
How Can Emotional Intelligent Eating Benefit You?
1. You become aware of hunger and fullness cues
This process helps you keep in touch with your body and know when you are truly hungry and when you are full. It helps prevent overeating and gives you full control over your portion sizes.
2. You are constantly tuned in to your body and what it needs
Your body knows what it needs. Through this process, you are able to get to know your body better and actually listen to it. You can start making food decisions based on what your body feels it needs, rather than eating whatever you want just to satisfy the hungry feelings or cravings.
3. You develop the ability to overcome emotional eating
Becoming emotionally intelligent when it comes to eating can help you learn to make decisions based on what you know you need to be eating, regardless of what your emotions are trying to convince you that you want. You are able to make decisions that benefit you, rather than comfort or hinder you.
4. Knowing what foods do/don’t benefit you
Becoming aware of how certain types of foods affect your body can help you know what sort of sensitivities you have or if you have any allergies. It can also help you discover what foods may upset your stomach and what foods help you feel good and energized.
5. Motivation to eat better
Once you are aware of how food impacts you and what foods help you feel good, it helps inspire you to keep making good food decisions to the point that eating well will simply become habit and not a daily challenge.
6. Awareness of eating habits in all situations
This process helps you become aware of your own eating habits in all situations, especially social settings. Social eating tends to lead to overeating and food choices that don’t ultimately benefit you. When you are more aware of yourself and your habits, you can carry them into these situations and continue to eat well, regardless of your surroundings or social pressures.
What are your thoughts about emotional intelligent eating? Have you tried it? What was your experience like? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below, we would love to hear from you!
And remember, we’re in this together.
Sara Wylie resides in Utah where she is currently working as an Editorial Intern for Fitlife.tv while also pursuing a career in writing. She hopes that through her words and fiery passion, she will be able to not only inspire others to seek out and nourish their own passions, but to also help others feel what it’s like to truly be alive.
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