Nourishment Beyond Food

Things you need every day for a well-nourished life.

Person drinking coffee and listening to music. Unsplash - Sincerely Media

If you realize that you often eat without genuine hunger and that much of your eating is moved by your emotions, maybe you have to look to other aspects of your life that are malnourished. Just as we reserve some moments of the day to eat because we know how important this is for maintaining our health, well-being, and productivity, it is important to note whether other non-physiological (but human) needs are also being met with due frequency. Fun, love, connection, relaxation, and affection are some examples of what may be missing for you and that — like food — demand time and permission to be enjoyed.

When we don’t take the time to meet these needs — for lack of prioritization or for not giving importance — food comes on the scene to play roles that are not its main: offering you nutrients and energy to live. It begins to play the role of rest, entertainment, relaxation, comfort, among others.

Does this mean that food should never be used as a pure source of pleasure and that you never will be able to eat again for comfort? Of course not !!

Affective foods — those that give us comfort and pleasure, will always be welcome in a balanced way of eating. But when you understand what are those needs that are being met with food, you then have the choice to act directly on it and, probably, find more assertive ways to feel truly better.

Expanding your ways of meeting your internal demands is a very important step on the path to food freedom and autonomy. The main demands that we have and that need to be met for true well-being:

1. Entertainment

We eat to add flavor to tedious routines. If your routine does not include exciting and fun moments and activities, your only excitement will be choosing food in the delivery app. We all need “blue screen” moments throughout the day to work and feel better. Entertainment is part of a complete and healthy life.

So, you need to consider what really amuses you? What distracts you? A book, a TV show, a conversation with a friend? Watching 90’s music videos? How could you associate this with your day or week?

2. Affection

It is easy to turn to food when we are feeling devalued, unloved, incompetent, or frustrated. And clearly, there is a momentary well-being when eating something delicious. However, it is very brief — and can sometimes make you feel worse than you were feeling before.

bathtub in a warm bathroom setting

But there are other ways to provide us affection: a hot bath, comfortable clothing, a massage, a manicure… list things that give you that feeling and include it in your week. Giving yourself affection is one of the best ways to prevent emotional hunger.

3. Connection

The sense of belonging is fundamental for us humans. Feeling connected to what you love, feeling part of a community or group, are an essential part of a full life.

However, we sometimes confuse a like in a photo with meaningful interaction with people. Connection is talking, asking (and really wanting to know) how the person is doing. What she has done, how is the family? It is talking about yourself, opening your heart to those you trust. It is constantly creating the perception that you are not alone (maybe there has never been a more important time for that before).

Make a commitment to speak (for real) to someone in your family or friends daily or a few times a week. You will find how pleasant and nourishing it is to share your life with those you love.

4. Recognition

“I am going to eat this because I deserve it” — who has never said something like this?

We assume a series of demands, we strive to be better women, mothers, daughters, employees. We unfold ourselves because we believe in the fallacy of perfectionism to be loved and valued (spoiler: not true).

However, all this effort is often not recognized (very often!) — and that can make us so damn hungry! But is it the responsibility of others to acknowledge our efforts? Valuing our work? Is this overload understood by the people around you? Is it necessary at all?

In addition to the importance of delegating tasks (or simply abandoning some), one must realize that true recognition does not always come from others. You need to start recognizing and valuing your own efforts for yourself. When you feel that, the contentment will lessen the perception that you deserve to pamper yourself because you try too hard. — Although a treat is sometimes welcome;)

5. Relaxation

“I eat because I’m anxious” — I would be rich if I earned a dollar for every time I hear that statement.

Flatlay of water bottle and workout shoes with a phone ready to get moving

But does eating really reduce your anxiety? I mean, in addition to the brief physiological effect of gratification and relaxation, do you really feel less anxious after 1 hour of eating?

We forget that having enough hours of sleep, exercise, and small moments of rest in your day to day also are great ways to reduce stress. In addition, discovering and treating the causes behind the symptom (anxiety) is fundamental to its cure. Mental health is a fundamental part of your well-being.

Don’t forget that your needs are not just physiological — they are human! When taken care of, your overall well-being increases and you will realize that there is no longer much to “discount on food”.

Take care of yourself!

I am a Brazilian girl (living in Sao Paulo with my fiancé — and other 20 million people). I love coffee, books, and good food. I also really enjoy studying and learning new things that allow me to further develop myself both professionally and personally. I have a degree in Food Science and hold a Ph.D. in Agri-food Marketing. In addition, I am a Certified Nutrition Coach and an enthusiastic Nutrition student.

After 15 years of living in war with my body and with food, I found freedom through mindfulness and intuitive eating, practices that allowed me to overcome yo-yo dieting and binge eating.

I’m passionate about helping women rewrite their food and body histories so they feel free and confident to live their lives to the fullest.

There is a power that comes alive when women free themselves from the food prison in which they have learned to live, when they realize that they are capable and deserving of feeling fantastic in their own bodies, and that confidence is a state of mind — not a body lotion which you get the right to use when you reach a weight-loss goal.

My work is dedicated to nurturing, celebrating and sharing this message.

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