When I was studying for my final psychology exams at university, I would fry my brain so much that sometimes the only remedy was watching mind-numbing films that soothed those electromagnetic brainwaves from firing themselves into a coma. My best friend Mel and I had two rescue films that we watched consistently and relied on to bring our brains back to functioning level after an extreme study session. They were Zoolander and Mean Girls.
We got to the point where, not only we could identify every part of the brain and spout Freud and Maslow like we wrote their books ourselves, but we could quote almost every line in both of those movies. One which always stuck with me from Mean Girls goes as follows:
“Where you sit in the cafeteria is crucial because you got everybody there. You got your Freshmen, ROTC Guys, Preps, JV Jocks, Asian Nerds, Cool Asians, Varsity Jocks, Unfriendly Black Hotties, Girls Who Eat Their Feelings, Girls Who Don’t Eat Anything, Desperate Wannabes, Burnouts, Sexually Active Band Geeks, The Greatest People You Will Ever Meet, and The Worst. Beware of The Plastics.”
It was the first time I really thought about the concept of how we use food to self-soothe, punish, reward, deny ourselves, socialise with friends and family, and generally try to control ourselves and our lives. In our modern society, food is so much more than nutrition; giving your body the fuel it needs to function at its most efficient. Today food is also a statement of class, economic status, education, psychological and physical states, subculture and a symbol of the values and beliefs that we hold about ourselves and our lives and world.
I notice that when I feel unsettled I use food to ground myself. Especially when traveling, as I am moving through different parts of America now, I sometimes find myself reaching for a snack when things become a little uncertain in my environment. And so I catch myself and ask “What feelings am I feeling that make me feel the need to reach for food?” In other words, am I eating my feelings? And what can I do for myself in order to nurture myself and my feelings? Is food the solution that’s best for me right now?
The next time you eat, whether it is a quick snack on the road, a meal shared with loved ones or a homemade dinner for one, bring awareness into your processes. Are you hungry or are you eating out of habit? How do you feel when you order or prepare the meal? Does eating bring you anxiety or pleasure? Do you chose foods that are healthful or are you comfort eating? Why have you made those choices? What would you do differently next time, now that you have brought awareness into your eating habits?
Mindful eating is a from of gratitude for the food you are enjoying and allows your body to assimilate the nutrition that you are giving it and turn it into positive life force, for your benefit. Take your time, enjoy it and bless the food that you are partaking in. The love and attention you give the food is returned back to you many fold.