Healthy Living / How We Eat

Changing My Relationship With Dinner

So I have this thing about dinner… I love it. It closes out the day for me. It’s a time to relax, decompress and spend quality time with my partner, a friend, or even by myself. For me, dinner is a sign that the day is done, and it has indicated that for as long as I can remember.

Recently, I have come to learn something about my relationship with dinner… I feel as if I have become dependent on it.  It can be late and I might not even be feeling hungry, but I still want to sit down and enjoy a hearty, healthy meal. The thing is, it’s not really about the food; it’s about the experience that this meal provides me with and how it makes me feel – relaxed and relieved that my work day has come to an end.  Trouble is, my days and evenings have become a bit busier lately, pushing my typical dinner time (and the need to feel like my work day is over) to a later time.

Well, I know that it’s not great to eat when you aren’t hungry, and I also know that it’s not great to eat right before bed, yet I continue to make myself these late night meals!  I finally was able to admit to myself that I needed to take a deeper look at this pattern, and when I did, I found that I was having trouble adjusting to my new schedule and giving up that hearty dinner that I have loved for so long.

So, the question becomes is there a way to experience this desired feeling while supporting the health of my mind and body? Can I take food out of the equation by finding something else that provides me with that same emotion/sensation/response.

I thought about this a lot over the last week because I knew I was going to have some late nights. Of course, if I am hungry, I know that I need to eat (this is NOT about deprivation), but so often I go through the motions and forget to check in to see if I am even hungry! I considered some practices that could signal my day had come to an end but didn’t involve sitting down with a plate of food. Reading a book? Meditation? A walk outside? A phone call with a friend? Shutting down my computer for the evening?

pen and notebookI decided to start a journaling practice to reflect on each day.  I love to write, but often I am too tired by the time I get into bed and I just don’t make the time to reflect on the lessons, experiences and bits of love from the day.  So, last week, I began journaling around the time I would be eating a late dinner, and so far, I have really enjoyed spending my time this way. This practice has helped me close out the day on the positive note AND has started to become a signal that my day is coming to an end (I guess reflecting on a day will do that).

My goal for this new practice is to make journaling my “end of the day reward,” letting dinner be what it should be – a meal to feed my body.  If I am hungry, I can eat, and if I am not hungry or only slightly hungry, I can have a smoothie or maybe an herbal tea.  I will let dinner nourish me physically and allow journaling to nourish me emotionally.  With time, practice and commitment, I hope to find the relief and relaxation that dinner has provided me with in this journaling practice, releasing my emotional attachment to dinner and the need to enjoy a big meal so late at night.

I wanted to share this all with you for a few reasons:

- to make it real (and to help keep me accountable for creating change).

- to let you know that I haven’t got it all figured out (this girl is still a work in progress – and always will be).

- to encourage you to take a look at a habit or routine that might not be supporting your best self and encourage you to try something new.

You might be experiencing something similar in your own life… Does a certain habit or routine leave you not feeling your best yet you continue to do it? Does this habit give you a certain feeling of relief or satisfaction in the moment, but leaves you feeling disappointed and maybe a little guilty afterwards? You can apply this situation to many of the habits that we form over time, especially with food. Often, food and eating allows us to experience certain feelings and emotions, which is why we continue to go back for more!

So, what is it for you? Feel free to share in the comments below (or with me privately).

 

with love and self-reflection,

Amanda

 

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