Eating problems can be exacerbated by a lack of sensory stimulation in general, that is, by using food as your primary outlet for sensual delight. Unwittingly, you may rely on taste, only one of your five senses, rather than using them all to increase intensity and joy in life. If so, by engaging all five senses, you may reduce unwanted eating.
If you eat from boredom or to de-stress, you’re ignoring ways in which your other senses—smell, sight, hearing, and touch—could better help you amp up or chill out. One reason for this dependence is that you’ve fallen into a rut: food is cheap, accessible, and requires no thinking or creativity. With a little inventiveness and energy, however, you can learn to get all your senses working for you at maximum efficiency.
Let’s start with smell. There may be no scientific evidence that aromatherapy promotes relaxation, but certain aromas seem to bring great pleasure. Maybe it’s the effort made to breathe deeply that soothes us or maybe it’s chemistry. Consider what smells heavenly to you and next time you think about eating when you’re not hungry, light a citrus or coconut candle, buy fresh flowers and take a whiff, walk through a garden and inhale, smell the rain. Opening windows and letting in fresh air may even do the trick. And what about sight? What fills you with visual awe and makes your heart sing—art, nature, taking photographs, drawing, viewing historic buildings, a walk by the ocean? Rather than turn to food to awaken your senses, pursue a sight or smell adventure.
As for hearing, turn on your favorite music, crank up the volume on your earbuds, then kick back and relax. Music enlivens us, so let sound fill every inch of your being and, before you know it, you’ll forget about eating—and stress. Then there’s the sense of touch. Most of us love to be touched and held and don’t enjoy this sensation frequently enough. Give yourself a hug, slather lotion over your body, have a good head scratch, get a massage or facial, take a bath or shower, go for a swim, get your hands dirty and sculpt something out of clay or sand, finger paint, or dig in the garden.
If you’re letting taste do all the work to bring you sensory pleasure, it’s time to think outside the box, time to dabble in delighting in your other senses and slowly wean yourself away from food. We thrive when we’re feeling sensual and alive. Our senses yearn to be awakened and are just waiting for you to call on them so they can do their job of helping you get the most out of life. Give them half a chance and a whole new world will open to you. You’ll feel better and food will lose some of its power.