“Let food be thy medicine”
Who’s never felt the urge for comfort food after a stressful day, or been tempted by a new “miraculous” diet…? There are so many different dieting trends nowadays that it can be stressful to even think about it!
As a Sophrologist, it isn’t in my field of expertise to advise on the benefit or danger of any existing diet and I wouldn’t be able to list the pros and cons of the latest food trends. However, I truly believe that Sophrology can be a great help in (re)building a healthy relationship with food. I have personally experienced Sophrology’s benefit in helping develop a new and long-lasting attitude towards food, as well as establish a more gentle, loving and peaceful relationship with our body.
Eating should be a moment of pleasure and nourishment. However, that’s almost impossible when food becomes a real source of stress and anxiety. Anyone who’s experienced emotional eating, night eating syndrome or any eating disorder will know that. It’s not just about willpower, it’s about finding peace.
As a mind-body solution, Sophrology aims to simultaneously calm the mind and relax the body. Therefore, the benefits of Sophrology for anyone trying to implement a balanced lifestyle and a healthier relationship to food are countless.
Here are some very good reasons why I think Sophrology could be our best ally in mindful eating.
COPING WITH STRESS
Although Sophrology is too often reduced to relaxation, its chief aim is to help cope with stress and emotional turmoil, which is fundamental in a time of nutritional and dietary adjustment.
It’s no big news that stress and unhealthy dietary habits are largely connected. As much as stress and fatigue can trigger emotional eating, a stormy relationship with food will also generate stress! No doubt then that sophrology can be a fantastic support there.
RECOGNISING OUR (REAL) NEEDS
Through its unique combination of mind-body exercises, Sophrology helps connect deeply to our body. The regular practice creates a space to listen and understand our body’s real needs. Many of us have a very distorted perception of hunger and/or satiety. By tuning in gently and profoundly to the perceptions of our body, we can progressively rediscover what we really need, learn how to honour these needs, and let go of unhealthy habits.
ENHANCED BODY AWARENESS
With Sophrology, by focusing on enhancing our body awareness, we can transform the perception we have of ourselves: we learn to develop a more objective and neutral perception of ourselves and our body; we lower the inner criticism that can be so devastating and a source of anxiety. Step by step, we make space for fostering a peaceful and positive relationship to our body, our best ally!
THE IMPORTANCE OF SLEEPING WELL
Let’s also not forget the importance of sleep. It is directly connected to the way we eat as well.
Sleep plays a major role in regulating the cycle of metabolic functions in the body, including glycaemia and appetite.
Here again, by practicing specific Sophrology exercises for a good quality sleep, Sophrology will be a great support and will help recreating harmony in the body and the mind.
RECONNECT TO THE PLEASURE OF EATING WELL
Maybe it’s the French girl in me, but I really believe that food should be associated with pleasure. Cooking and eating with our 5 senses is so relaxing and such a pleasure! And although cooking might not be for everyone, there is a sense of satisfaction when we’re able to enjoy and appreciate food that will nourish and replenish our body. By reconnecting to the pleasure of eating, we increase our connection to vital energy, which should be a priority in our lives!
And if we learn how to deeply reconnect to ourselves, our needs and our inner peace, we can also transform a major aspect of an unhealthy relationship to food: if eating can be perceived again as a way to nourish our body as well as bring us the vital energy and the nutrients we need, there is less temptation to eat in order to fill a void, emotional, affective or existential.
SUPPORT FOR A LONG-LASTING CHANGE
Sophrology will also help “reprogram” the brain in order to implement healthy habits for the long run. I often get asked what comes after the awareness, how do we really implement the change…? That’s where Sophrology is such a brilliant tool: it’s not just about creating awareness and being more at peace with the problem, it’s also about “Positive Action”, one of the 3 pillars of sophrology (ie. Objective Reality, Body Awareness, Positive Action!)
There are also exercises that can be practiced in order to implement practical solutions when cravings occur. With Sophrology, we can build up our own calming strategy if we start feeling overwhelmed by stress and/or strong emotions resulting in bad habits.
I think that all the above shows quite well how sophrology can play a big supportive role for anyone suffering from any eating disorder or simply wanting to adopt a more balanced relationship to eating and dieting.
However, I would also add that for me, beyond establishing new and healthier eating habits, Sophrology allows a gentle and progressive transformation of our whole being.
Beyond food, what we’re really talking about is creating new perspectives in our life and building for ourselves a future full of wellbeing, taking baby steps.
Connecting peacefully to the the world around us: eating with our loved ones, sharing precious moments. Knowing what we eat, where it comes from, listening to how it resonates with our values. These might not be the first things that we think about when we think “diet” but they are definitely…food for thought!