• on May 16, 2017

How to hold space for your food thoughts

You know how it goes.  You’re busy living your life – working, walking, talking with a friend.  And suddenly, something enters your stream of consciousness.  A tiny flame kindles within your brain.  And the brain says, in perhaps a small way to begin with, ‘eat’.

How do you experience that food thought?

For some it’s a craving, an impulse, a desire.  A yearning, a longing, an irresistible pull towards the substance.  Food is just food.  And yet, when the flame is kindled, it’s almost as if food acquires an unseen force, like a gravitational pull.  We are drawn to it like moths to a flame.

At other times, it doesn’t feel like this.  Maybe you experience it as a suppression, a stuffing down of something else.  Food offers a doorway, an escape route into another reality.  There’s something in my life that I don’t want to feel.  There’s a pervasive feeling of…  I don’t even know.  A general sense of unease, restlessness.  So I turn to the nearest exit.  Eating.

However you experience it, the food thought is a hijacker.  Did you ever agree to having these thoughts each day, irrespective of hunger and the wisdom of your belly?  I certainly didn’t.  Yet as I look back on my life, I notice three things:

  • I experienced the presence of these food thoughts from a very young age, perhaps 5 years old.
  • These food thoughts have ebbed and flowed throughout the different stages of my life, waxing and waning in frequency and intensity.
  • Now, with years of practice under my belt, I can now respond to my food thoughts in a variety of different ways.

Before, the only choice was to eat.  Maybe hold on for a while (don’t eat, don’t eat, don’t eat!), but ultimately, I felt driven to consume.  And this still happens sometimes – I wilfully forget the wisdom of my belly, and lean on food to process my life.  It happens, I’m not looking for perfectionism.  But there is another path available to me, one where I don’t need to be completely hijacked by this intruder on my consciousness.

I am interested in how we can use our physical bodies as anchors to create lasting change.  We need to feel and express in our bodies what we learn in our minds.  I am playing with embodying the holding of a food thought.  It works something like this:


  1. Notice that you are having a food thought.  Especially helpful to practice this when you are having a ‘light’ food thought – not too compelling or intense, just a gentle propulsion towards eating.
  2. Cup your hands together in a gesture of gentle giving/receiving.  Place them softly on your lap.  Be with the touch of your hands, the texture of your skin.
  3. Use your imagination to place the food thought into your hands.  Hold it.  Feel it.  Tend to it like a beloved baby.
  4. Give yourself permission to eat if you want to.  Give yourself permission to not eat if you want to.
  5. Know that eating in response to a food thought will strengthen the FOOD THOUGHT + ACT OF EATING neural pathway in your brain.
  6. Know that not eating will strengthen the FOOD THOUGHT + CHOICE TO NOT EAT neural pathway.

I love the feel, texture and taste of food in my mouth.  Who doesn’t?

I also love the feel, texture and taste of peace and spaciousness in my brain.

Which do I want more?

Cup those hands together.  Hold space for your food thoughts.  Don’t suppress, distract, run away.  Let them breathe, let them be there.  You’ll find a way through.  Gently does it.