What’s Your Soul Food?

By Angel Naivalu, MSW, Life Coach

One of the things Movara guests love about staying here is that they don’t have to worry about eating healthy and delicious food, in perfect quantities that keep you satisfied.

Trying to lose weight generally directs our attention to evaluate what we are eating. We look at improving quality over quantity and begin to scrutinize our calories. It is often said that 80% of weight loss success is dependent upon nutritional choices and 20% depends on exercise. The pursuit of dieting for weight loss can keep us totally focused on what we are feeding our bodies while starving the mind, heart, and spirit. 

A Look at the Whole Person: Body, Mind, Heart & Spirit

Many people use food as a coping mechanism. It can be used as a source of distraction, or escape, from the effects of a busy, stressed-out mind. Food is sometimes used to numb emotions, such as a nervous, angry, or lonely heart. Other times, some people unconsciously use food to avoid acknowledging a struggling sense of self-worth. By asking ourselves a few questions, we can often unravel the very roots of the problems we have with our weight.

Try asking yourself these questions:

  • What am I hungering for in my life?
  • What is eating at my mind? (Ex: What am I obsessively ruminating about?)
  • What is eating at my heart? (Ex: What am I worried about, or afraid of?)
  • What is eating at my spirit? (Ex: where do I feel like I’m failing in my life, I’m not enough, I’m unlovable or hopeless?)

The answers to questions such as these may illuminate the areas of our being that are starving. We can learn to pause from self-medicating with food and directly nourish these aspects of our whole selves. This is what I call, “Soul Food.”

Feeding the Mind

You can feed your mind with inspiring or challenging new thoughts, ideas, and ways of thinking. Inspiring concepts often provoke feelings of excitement and growth. Listening to audiobooks while you’re driving, or podcasts while getting ready in the morning or during your workout are examples of ways you can squeeze in some “mind food.” Additionally, learning a new skill, doing something from your daily routine in a new and different way, or trying a new activity will feed your mind, as well.

Feeding the Heart

Feeding the heart is about nurturing one’s emotions. This skill can seem elusive to many because it is most common in our society to stuff down or suppress our emotions. We have a tendency to neglect them. We avoid them. One effective way to feed the heart is to practice emotional expression – letting the emotions be seen and heard – even if it’s just by you. For example, if you are feeling angry, resentful, or annoyed, go to a private space and try letting out a yell and notice how it feels. Then try a groan. Shout out your feelings and grievances. 

Also, ask yourself, “What makes my heart sing?” The answer varies from person to person. When I have asked that question, some answers I’ve received from others include giving or getting hugs, sunflowers, playing with children, visiting loved ones, playing my favorite music, watching the sunset, etc. Find your “heart’s song,” and make sure you frequently invest in it.

Feeding the Spirit

Many people, in cultures around the world, practice mindfulness and meditation. Being still and seeking to connect with yourself, rather than engaging in distractions and busyness, is a way to feed your spirit. There is no right nor wrong way to meditate, but if it is foreign to you, you may choose to begin practicing this skill by listening to “guided meditations.” You can search that term online, on YouTube, or in an App Store and find many options to guide you through a quiet time of self-reflection.

I hope this article has given you some “soul food for thought!” Nourishing yourself in body, mind, heart, and spirit is a way to rejuvenate and restore your health and wellness and balance your body, often resulting in seemingly effortless weight loss.