Compassion in the Kitchen
With Valentines just around the corner I thought it would be appropriate to talk about self-compassion and love…in the kitchen! A place where many of our inner bullies lurk in the corners.
We are our own worst enemies, our biggest critics, and our meanest bullies. Do you agree? Maybe you don’t always talk down to yourself but if you do, does it help? Does it make you feel any better or more motivated to change? My guess is no.
I’m not a counselor but I do know a few things about the ways we talk to ourselves about food and how it can impact our decisions and mood. To help, I’ve got a few suggestions for how to talk to yourself and practice these new skills. It can be implemented anywhere but we’re going to focus in on the kitchen today.
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Have you ever said, “I shouldn’t eat this or I should eat that.” Do you typically follow through on those notions? “Shoulding” on yourself tends to make us feel guilt and guilt is a difficult emotion to cope with if you don’t have the tools to do so. Do you hold back on making certain recipes because of those shoulds or shouldnts? Do you limit or change ingredients always to make it low calorie because we think that automatically means “healthy?” Keep reading.👇🏻
This charcuterie board was made with lots of love and compassion. If I told myself I shouldn’t eat chocolate, this board might feel like something I couldn’t enjoy. Then I’d probably eat it anyway and feel guilty. Stop the cycle! This is not what we want.
Start with this notion: there are NO good or bad foods and you have permission to eat whatever the heck you want. Sure, sure Jessi that’s a great notion but how do we apply it? Start in your kitchen and look through your cupboards, pantry, fridge, freezer and say out loud, “all of this is food and food I can choose to eat or not.” Yes, I know it sounds silly.
When we stop telling ourselves we are not allowed or shouldn’t eat something we can start to get more in-tune with our bodies. Then start asking yourself where these thoughts originated. I find it can be helpful to understand a bit about where we get these habits / thoughts from…but not to spend too much time there. That’s absolutely where therapy can help further than I can. Here’s my next recommendation.
Look at your kitchen table. Is it a place where you can focus and try mindful eating strategies and enjoy a meal? If not, clear it off! Get rid of the clutter and maybe add a fun centerpiece that goes with the current season. When you eat, try to sit down at the table and embrace the food you’re consuming without your inner bully talking to you.
If your inner bully starts shoulding on you while eating, cooking or prepping…take a moment to pause and respond. How might you respond to a friend? This is something to practice out loud. Again, it might sound silly but I ask that you try it before knocking it.
Lastly, ask yourself what you enjoy making and eating. If it’s food you’ve been denying yourself then maybe it’s time to bring it back! I used to bake less often because I was worried about eating the whole pan of brownies. This was rooted in the idea that if I made them I wouldn’t be able to “control” myself. When in fact the more you try to “control” your food choices the more out of control, restricted and limited you can become. The worse you typically feel, too.
All this to say, your kitchen is meant to be a place to nourish your mind, body, and soul. Listen to the way you talk to yourself when you’re in the kitchen and reframe the conversation to show yourself compassion.
You don’t have to bake brownies, but if you need a recipe, here’s my from scratch Salted Caramel Porter Brownies. Or build that pancake charcuterie board we’ve seen throughout the post for Valentines’ day!