So just what is a kind food limit and how does it help you to stop emotional eating and become a Conscious Eater?
A kind food limit is one that takes into account what you desire for taste and pleasure and what your body needs to work well and feel good. A kind food limit also takes into account how you feel when you eat a particular food (physically, mentally and emotionally) and what your energy needs are right now and in the near future.
Kind food limits help you to make decisions that you feel good about, so you can stop emotional eating for good.
That’s to say, you feel good in a well-rounded sense-you’ll feel satisfied so you can focus on others things rather than thinking about food. You need to enjoy what you’re eating or you’ll feel like there’s something missing and that’s the perfect setup for mindless emotional eating and you’ll feel unsatisfied and disappointed with yourself.
Kind food limits are mostly positive, meaning that they move you toward something you need or desire.
Some examples are; making a plan to enjoy a meal at a favorite restaurant, a meal with a friend, a favorite comfort meal or dessert, etc. It could also be a little less glamorous and commit to a meal simply because you know your body needs it to feel better. You also need the nutrition to fuel your body considering what you’ve got going on for the rest of the day. Drink a glass of milk with lunch rather than soda, because that’s what you need today. Tomorrow you may have different needs.
Think about when you come home from vacation or after the holidays, sometimes we need to take good care by eating more of the food we may have missed in the previous days or weeks, perhaps eating in a less well-rounded way. Or maybe you’re just busy at work and you grab what’s available – it’s easy, quiets your hunger, but ultimately not what you really want.
Our bodies thank us after eating a well-balanced meal by feeling better, working better, thinking more clearly, resting more deeply, managing feelings more accurately and peacefully, etc.
Kind food limits also means stopping mindless eating sooner than you may think you would like. Reaching for the candy bowl when you stop by a coworker’s desk, just because it’s there, is a habit and it may be difficult to say, “no thanks,” when the time comes because the reward centers of our brains excitedly light up at the sight of candy! But, eating candy right before you have a big chunk of work to get done by a deadline or a meeting isn’t always a good idea.
Give yourself a moment to consider the outcome and make a Conscious Eating decision based on what will meet your mind, body and heart needs.
Making a choice to be a Conscious Eater at this moment means saying, “no, not right now.” It doesn’t mean banishing all candy, after all, candy is made for pure enjoyment and we need to eat for enjoyment some of the time to feel satisfied. Conscious Eating is about kindness and care – for yourself in the food choices you make. Being a perfectly healthy eater is not a possible goal.
Being a Conscious Eater is a very achievable goal!
Years ago, when I was training for distance races, I would often come home from a 15 mile or more walk and the only thing I wanted to eat was a big burger from my favorite place or a backyard grilled steak. Being a Conscious Eater meant taking care of myself with the food I needed to eat for satisfaction, desire and what my body needed, (protein, iron, fat, etc.) for my body to repair and rebuild after such intense physical activity.
A kind limit recognizes your mind, body and heart needs. What your mind needs for fulfillment, your heart needs for satisfaction and your body needs for energy.
Here are three practical steps you can take to set kind food limits:
- Identify what you’re really hungry for and/or if you’re even hungry at all. Slow down, rather than reaching for what’s immediately available. It may take some planning and time to get what you want and need. You’re worth the wait!
- Notice food rules like, “I should eat…” and keep dieting in check. Destructive diet rules show up in the strangest of places. Like when you’re trying to be a Conscious Eater and treat yourself well. Listening to yourself requires that you become quiet and still for a moment as you learn about your needs. If it’s not an emergency, we don’t need to treat it like one.
- Eat until you’re satisfied. Eating to satisfaction usually means eating a well-balanced meal. Use your body as your guide to give you feedback on what works for you. Your body is programmed for survival. When you thrive it’s easier on your system and your body feels better.
We can only hear the feedback our bodies give us when we are quiet and allow kind food limits to be our guide.
Kind food limits allow for flexibility and experimentation.
Get to know what helps, what doesn’t and pair them up with what you like. It’s a winning combination that you will benefit from for years to come!