***This post was originally published on Sunshine Wellness & Yoga as a guest post. See the original post here.****

When was the last time you stopped to ask yourself, “what do I really want to eat right now?”

Not what should I eat right now.
Not what the latest diet expert or book is telling me to eat right now.
Not what would my partner, friend, sister or health coach want to eat right now.

But in this moment, what do I really want to eat?

So many of us are caught up in the busy-ness of life, that we don’t take the time to sit down and fully enjoy a meal, let alone really tune in to ask ourselves what we want to eat.

You may not even remember the last time you got curious about what your body is craving.
Before you sit down for your next meal, ask yourself these # questions:

1. How hungry am I?

Before you order a small side salad or the double whopper with cheese, get quiet for a moment and pay attention to your hunger cues. Ask yourself, on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being not hungry at all and 10 being ravenous, how hungry am I?

This will help guide you to deciding what you want to eat — something heavy like a full meal or something light like a salad or soup — and how much of it you want.

2. What do I really want to eat?

This is an interesting question to ask yourself. Why? Because we have been told for years what we “should” and “shouldn’t” be eating.

One article says beef is terrible for you, while another claims that more animal protein is what we are biologically made to consume. One diet book says that you shouldn’t touch dairy with a sharp stick, while another tells you that it’s a great source of protein and calcium.

To make matters even more confusing, we are also exposed to the latest weight loss tips and tricks. And, if you want to lose weight, you’ll consciously or unconsciously factor these into your decision making around food.

This leaves most people feeling overwhelmed, confused and unable to trust their own cravings around food. Our bodies are much smarter than we give them credit for. When we strip away the studies, diets, stories and unrealistic tips, our bodies know what to eat.

So, the next time you are hungry, start to get curious about what you are hungry for.

3. Do I want something savory or sweet? Crunchy or soft? Warm or cold? Cooked or raw?

One way to figure out what you’re craving is to start asking yourself what type of food you want to eat.

You can ask yourself:

Do I want something savory or sweet? 
Do I want something crunchy or soft?
Do I want something warm or cold?
Do I want something cooked or raw?

You may be surprised what you find out when you start to ask yourself these simple questions.

4. Am I choosing to eat this out of love? 

Now, you may be thinking…what is she talking about “eating this out of love.” So, bear with me for a second.

It wasn’t until recently that I started bringing self-love into my eating habits. I, like most people, would just eat food — however much I enjoyed it or loathed it (like boiled broccoli…) — and not pay much attention to how it made me feel on an emotional or physical level. But what I have found is that when we choose to eat from a place of self-love, we are filled not only with food but also love, joy and real nourishment.

This can look different for everyone, but some ways you can bring self-love into your eating could be:

  • Eating foods that you LOVE and truly enjoy. For example, eating a freshly baked croissant from a local bakery, rather than eating a sub-par croissant from Starbucks.
  • Choosing to say no to cookies that someone brought to the office because you feel obligated to eat them (that, and you know they aren’t really that good)
  • Cooking yourself a family recipe that brings back memories.
  • Eating a bountiful bowl of veggies because you know how amazing you will feel afterwards (not because you “should” eat them, but because you want to eat them).
  • Listening to your cravings and eating the food your body is craving. There is a reason you’re craving it — whether it’s physical or emotional.
  • Saying no to dessert…because you actually aren’t in the mood for sugar, not because you’ve been told not to eat dessert.
  • Or…saying YES to dessert, because you want to fully enjoy the double chocolate cake.

When you sit down to eat your next meal, ask yourself if you are doing so from a place of self-love.

5. Am I actually hungry for food

The last question to ask yourself before eating is: Am I actually hungry for food?

Many times we mistake hunger for food with hunger for something deeper. Many of us, myself included, turn to food for several different reasons. You may turn to food when you’re hungry, when you’re stressed, when you’re sad, when you’re happy or even when you have an underlying feeling of something missing in your life.

We think food will fulfill our needs in many of these situations. Yet, soon after eating, those same feelings usually reappear.

When you feel a drive to eat something, stop, get quiet and ask yourself what you’re really hungry for. You may find that you’re not actually hungry for food, but for something else. If you’re stressed, maybe you’re hungry for physical activity like a walk or a yoga class. If you’re happy, maybe you’re hungry for a bath or a walk out in nature. If you’re sad, maybe you’re hungry for some ‘you’ time where you do absolutely nothing.

Before your next meal, I encourage you to get curious about what you’re hungry for and what would show the most self-love.