Eating disorder recovery often goes hand-in-hand with embracing the energy that food brings to our bodies in the form of nutrition. But healing from an eating disorder or disordered eating is about so much more than meal plans and macronutrients.
Here at Circles of Change, and at the non-profit organization we do all this work for (Ophelia’s Place), we’ve been thinking a lot about gratitude for the full, loving lives we lead, and the work we get to do. Our Fall Fundraising dinner took place last week at our community cafe (Cafe at 407), which also supports the work of Ophelia’s Place. It was a four-course Moroccan fall feast-themed meal cooked by one of our staff and shared with the community. We were incredibly grateful for the chance to speak about our brave organization, and to nourish one another over food made with love.
This got us thinking about all of the ways we can nourish ourselves. It’s empowering and important to let protein, calories, fat, and carbohydrates do their thing in our bodies — but it’s not the only way to look at a meal. Here are some creative ways to nourish your heart when food is on the table.
Cook a meal for another person — or people! Sit down together to enjoy it. Tell them about the flavors and foods you cooked, and why they’re important to you.
Allow a friend, family member, or loved one to cook for you. Be present and notice what they choose to serve you. It’s an expression of who they are, and their love for you!
Eat without distractions. When we put away our cell phones, books, and TV shows for a meal, we are free to notice the variety of textures, tastes, and smells that make food so exciting. Which do you crave? Which do you like best? If this feels challenging or frightening, would inviting a trusted friend to join you make the experience safer?
Honor your cravings. You know that moment when a pastry, slice of pizza, great big salad, or literally anything else calls your name? When it sounds so good, you can almost taste it? That’s the moment to say YES to yourself, and enjoy every bite.
Journal after a meal. Instead of jumping up to wash dishes or accomplish your next task, reach for a notebook and pen. Consider the following questions if you need a prompt: Do I feel satisfied? What emotions were I feeling before and during the meal? What emotions am I experiencing now?
Make food a supporting player, not the star. Sometimes, we enjoy food most when we take away the pressure and importance we’ve grown to place on it. Try planning an afternoon that doesn’t directly involve food. Take a nature walk and pack a random variety of snacks for when you get hungry. Visit a museum in your town, then let your hunger guide when and where you eat. When we take the pressure off ourselves and our eating experiences, we invite healing magic in.