To practice radical self-love is to live life in a way that honors your worth, enoughness, and inherent right to happiness, here and now, just as you are.
This can be easier said than done in a world that’s bursting at the seams with diets, quick fixes, and perfectly filtered faces. It can feel like there’s always something you can do better or somewhere you’re falling short in life.
Food is an especially challenging area when it comes to practicing radical self-love. It’s often fraught with expectations around what’s “healthy” or what your food choices say about you. On the other hand, it’s also a perfect way to actually fuel your radical self-love.
On my journey to embody a healthier relationship with food, the grace over guilt mindset, which helps create more self-love, changed everything for me. I used to get caught in the cycle of feeling bad for what I ate and then making sure to exercise more in order to burn it off (punishment, disguised as a workout). Or I’d beat myself up for making choices that didn’t align with the “perfect” diet I was trying to follow.
Once I started embracing grace over guilt, I began to understand that one meal or one night of “over-indulgence” didn’t define me as a person, or define my health! I was able to break free of the patterns that were keeping me trapped in an unhealthy relationship with food and myself.
Guilt does not work as a motivator—it leads to feelings of shame that keep us stuck and hold us back from freedom and self-love.
So, if you’re ready to break free and love yourself more completely too, let’s flip the script, rewrite the narrative, and talk about how you can create more self-compassion with food.
Eating can be a pleasurable experience—if you’re mindful as you do it. Funny enough, it’s often the case that you’re not actually paying attention to your food as you eat it. I’m the first one to admit that I often inhale my lunch while working on my computer or standing at the kitchen counter trying to get my kids ready for school. I forget to pause and actually enjoy the food!
Mindful eating is the opposite of this. It’s the practice of being present with yourself, your food, and the experience at each meal. It’s about taking pleasure in each bite, no matter what the food is.
How to Eat Mindfully
Because radical self-love is all about claiming the joy that is yours, choosing to eat mindfully. Consciously enjoying your meal and appreciating the way the food is nourishing your body can be the perfect way to bring more self-compassion into your world. Bring this concept to your mealtimes with these three simple steps:
- Stop and eat. This is the most important step. It’s hard to eat mindfully if you’re focused on driving or doing work. I’ve made it a practice to pause every night before eating my dinner to take a few slow, deep breaths. I’m usually rushing to get food on the table and negotiating with four kids to do their family contributions (setting the table, filling water, etc.) so when I get to my meal, if I don’t intentionally pause and breathe to reset my nervous system, I will eat in that rushed and over-stimulated state.
- Tune into your sensations. What is the texture of the food like? Can you describe the taste? As you continue to eat, tune into your satiation and fullness so you can stop when your hunger has subsided.
- Express gratitude. Align with the feeling of gratitude as you chew each bite. What about this meal are you grateful for? Hold that gratitude in your heart as you enjoy the meal from start to finish.
When practiced regularly, this mindfulness can spill over into other areas of your life, making it easier to be more mindful when spending time with loved ones or moving your body. Being in the present is just one more way to experience radical self-love in every area of your life.
Let Go of “Good” and “Bad”
This is another lingering habit from living in a world consumed by diet culture. You may have been taught, or simply learned by hearing and watching others, that some foods are “good” while others are “bad.” I don’t even have to say which foods are which because you probably already have your own lists.
One way to fuel radical self-love with food is to let go of this rating system. Instead, let all foods have a place in your life. Everything from a bowl of cereal to a cookie or a veggie stir fry can be pleasurable, nurturing, and supportive in different ways.
One day you might choose chicken noodle soup because it’s nurturing to your soul in the winter. The next day you might choose to eat a cupcake because it tastes good. And later in the week, you may have a salad because you’re craving fresh produce.
There is no such thing as being “perfect” when choosing food. There’s just loving yourself and honoring your desires.
Fill Your Life With Radical Self-Love
Food is a great tool to practice and fuel radical self-love. Learning how to create more self-love around food has been an important part of my journey too, which is how I know that bringing these shifts in your life can be so helpful. Use these ideas to tune more deeply into your intuitive desires, learn to trust yourself, and finally see all food for what it is: an opportunity to nurture, love, and care for yourself, no matter what you’re craving.