Conscious Eating: Nine Enneagram Strategies for Nourishing Your Body, Heart, and Mind

By Beth O’Hara- September 2016

Part of living consciously is eating healthfully. Food is energy for our bodies and also fuel for consciousness. The quality of our food directly impacts the quality of our consciousness. Have you ever eaten something really bad for you like greasy fast food or lots of processed sugar and then felt awful afterwards? What happened with your thoughts and feelings? Many people will take a dive mentally and emotionally after eating processed foods.

In contrast, have you noticed how you feel after eating something really nutritious and healthy for you, like perfectly ripe cherries, a home cooked meal made with love, or produce fresh from your own garden? How did your body feel after that? What happened with your thoughts and feelings?

Here are nine Enneagram practices to help you eat consciously and treat your body with compassion and respect:

  1. Don’t worry about perfection.
    It’s ok to slip now and again and sometimes you do just want to indulge! Keep an eye on the big picture and focus on what you are doing right. Keeping your attention on the positive will move your energy in the direction of eating well for your body. If you really want that doughnut or brownie or those potato chips, make it a conscious choice. Limit how much you will eat by putting a serving or two onto a dish and fully enjoy it! No guilt necessary. Simply go back to eating well after your treat.

  2. Take very good care of yourself. 
    There is only one of you in the entire universe! Treat yourself well. If you want to be in service to others, you must first take care of yourself. Otherwise you end up with nothing left to give. Choosing nourishing and healthy foods is an excellent way to practice self-care.

  3. Practice simply being while you eat instead of doing.
    Many people watch TV or read while they eat, without being present to their food. Fully tasting your food will put you in touch with what your body needs. You will also tend to eat less when you taste your food and take time to be present to satiation signals from your body.

  4. Approach your meals with gratitude.
    Eating with gratitude adds another dimension to your meals. Space your meals to allow yourself to experience hunger before you eat. This will allow you to really appreciate your food and will bring you into a heart-felt space. Adding an element of beauty to your meals can also make eating a more enjoyable experience. You can add color and nutrition with brightly colored vegetables and fruits or even edible flowers. Serving your meals on a beautiful dish will also increase the aesthetics of your meal.

  5. Engage with others during meals.
    Food is often better when it is shared with others. Human beings are social animals, and sharing food is a connecting experience. Try a new dish or a new restaurant with your loved ones and practice engaging fully in the moment!

  6. Listen to your inner authority about how to eat
    Notice how different foods affect you and make choices based on your personal needs. Do you feel better when you eat vegetarian meals? Do you need some animal protein? Do you prefer to eat organically grown foods? We are all different in our needs and nutritional requirements. Find out what YOU really need, not just what outside authorities have recommended.

  7. Learn to appreciate simplicity.
    With seemingly unlimited choices in the grocery store these days, it is easy to fill up your cart with endless varieties of processed foods. Of course, you want to keep meals interesting and enjoyable. Simplicity can sometimes make meals even more pleasurable. What is it like to eat a fresh, organic apple? Can you slow down and experience the entire range of flavors in a piece of fruit, an elegant salad, or even a glass of wine?

  8. Be vulnerable.
    It can be difficult to change your eating habits, especially with social pressure to eat poorly. Be vulnerable with others that you are making a choice to eat in ways that take good care of you. Let them know that it is important to you and you need their support. If eating well is a challenge, process your feelings with good friends who will listen to you and want the best for you. Support from others feels good and will help you stick to your goals.

  9. Set your boundaries with others.
    Sometimes others won’t support your healthy eating choices, because it threatens their own attachments to food. This can particularly be difficult at parties and family gatherings. You can bring a dish of food you prefer to eat to share at these events. When people pressure you, don’t cave. Instead you might choose to let the person know you would like their support in taking care of yourself. If this doesn’t work, you can always change the subject or even walk away.

The body is often said to be the temple of the soul/consciousness. Nourishing your body simultaneously nourishes your consciousness. Enjoy this journey to the fullest with all your mind, heart, and body!

Learning about your body and food can keep you excited, interested, and motivated. Research areas which interest you. Here are a few of my personal favorites on conscious eating: Eating on the Wild Side, Omnivore’s Dilemma, and The FastDiet.

 

Author

Beth O’Hara is a Holistic Health and Life Coach, Iyengar Yoga Teacher, and Certified Enneagram Teacher residing in Cincinnati, OH.  Her listening skills, empathy and intuition make her a compassionate, effective and gifted coach and teacher. She is experienced in working with clients to transform areas that include health and wellness, relationships, self-understanding, self-esteem, and life balance.

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