Food For Thought: Eating To Feel Good
Wait, actually, let’s back up. Consider yoga.
Before yoga, I didn’t acknowledge my body. That is, I didn’t think of it as the strong powerhouse that I know it to be today. I didn’t view it as a vehicle that allows me to travel, fall in love, hug my family, laugh with/at my friends, and have all the other profound life experiences I’ve had and will have. In fact, before yoga, didn’t want to even to look at my physical body. Because I hated it.
And so I ate like that.
I counted calories, under-/overate, and disconnectedly mowed in front of screens. More often than not, I chose to consume foods that left me feeling bad—though I didn’t recognize that’s what they were doing.
The more I practice, the better I feel. The better I feel, the more I want to preserve it. As a result, I choose empowering thoughts that feel good. I choose relationships that feel good. And I choose foods that feel good. It’s somatic. The change in my food habits is simply a byproduct of upping my yoga consumption and being more connected. When the inspiration is to feel good, as often as possible, the foods that don’t leave me feeling good give me up on their own. I choose more yoga, I feel good, I eat—ah, you get it.
Because yoga begets heightened body (and everything) awareness, we get clear on what makes us feel good. Sometimes, by learning what doesn’t. It takes sitting on the couch for hours (thanks, Orange Is The New Black) to realize that doesn’t feel as good as a short walk or home yoga practice. Thinking disempowering thoughts (including but not limited to: “You suck, Jess!”) now make me feel physically sick. Just like mindlessly choosing foods that leave me feeling "bad" no longer works for me.
Warning: this is not about perfection. This is not a strict regimen to perpetuate feelings of guilt associated with food. Guilt doesn’t feel good. The decadent cheese plate at your favorite restaurant, however, might. And sometimes it might not. What feels good changes moment to moment. The art of feeling good is a practice of getting present. When I don’t practice, I lose touch with what will feel good. I choose default habits. I think old, self-rejecting thoughts. These moments are very essential, though. And they become shorter lived as I strengthen my ability to notice when I don’t feel good and re-choose the thoughts/foods/habits that do. Because yoga.
So consider food. Consider what foods leave you feeling good. Consider how you want to feel every day. And when you notice yourself disconnected (from food, your people, your heart), move your body. Two minutes, an hour, it doesn’t matter. Feel your skin and muscles and bones. Then, choose the foods/habits/thoughts that will get you back to feeling how you want to feel. Because in this one short life we have, with this one body we’re given, let’s feel good as often as possible.
Jessica Kenny is a writer who teaches yoga or yoga teacher who writes, depending on the day. For a long time she did neither and was not very happy. She is a Certified Baptiste Teacher in San Francisco and contributes articles to many online and print publications. You can keep up with Jess and her ginger self on her website and Instagram.