There is sure a lot of holiday hoopla in the air.  How are you holding up?

Honestly, for me the holiday season used to come with a hefty dose of stress and a whole lot of pressure in trying to make things picture perfect. I aspired to cook the perfect meals, host the ideal dinner parties, buy the right gifts all the while still providing a magical holiday for my kids – it was a tad overwhelming.  

The past few years I have been trying something different. For exampe, this past holiday weekend I chose to lay super low: to rest, to nourish, to hang with friends and family, to get outside, to avoid full contact shopping and to get plenty of downtime as the holiday season begins. {BTW it was heavenly}


As I am sure many of you have experienced, food can be a BIG challenge for many of us during the holiday season. The parties, the family dinners, the travel, and the celebratory feasts have become such a big part of the celebrations. While I love to share food and celebrate around the a festive table with loved ones, I also know it is something we can sculpt to match what it is we are wanting for ourselves on a larger scale. 



... Simple traditions
... Simple (and tasty) whole food meals
... Simple gatherings
... Simple purchases

Amidst it all, we can learn to listen to our bodies and our intuitions and see what feels right. Yes, it takes a little bit of time, gentleness, practice and patience, and is very worth the effort.

So, I wanted to share with you some pretty cool {cutting edge} science today. This research will really help you enhance knowing what your body needs and wants, how you can better listen to your body, heighten your inner awareness and make YOU the priority this holiday season.



Interoceptive awareness means developing an attentiveness in relation to the sensations arising within our bodies. These bodily signals are worthy of our attention because it is the brain's interpretation of them that determines how we are feeling both mentally and physically. By becoming more aware of these inner sensations, we are able to influence how these signals are interpreted by the body and the actions that would follow.


In 1906, the Nobel laureate Charles Scott Sherrington, introduced three terms into medical parlance: “proprioception”, “exteroception”, and “interoception”. Of the three, perhaps proprioception, which is basically the awareness of one’s body in relation to external objects, is the most familiar. (Proprioception is why we don’t constantly walk into walls or get into car accidents.) Exteroception refers to awareness of any stimuli coming at us from the outside (sights, sounds, smells etc.). Interoception is our awareness of what is going on within the boundary of our own skin; it is intra-organismic awareness. (Emerson, 2015)


Interoception, defined here as the sense of the physiological condition of the body, is an information pathway used to interpret one’s body from within. Interoception is the process of receiving, accessing and appraising our internal bodily signals. The anatomical pathways for interoception are well-specified, detailing the connections between sensory receptors, spinal cord, brainstem, and brain (Craig, 2002).  


Interoception evokes the quality of the relationship between our mind and body.


Interoception remains poorly understood within modern science, but recent research is insightful, and provides the missing link to healing our relationship to food and our bodies.


How a lack of interception can manifest in multifaceted...


Maybe your hunger cues are shut down.  Maybe you don't experience accurate interpretations of hot or cold.  Maybe it is hard for you to read our body's satiation cues. Maybe you are not in touch with your deeper currents of emotion and sensation that could be providing valuable information about a situation or circumstance.


Poor interoceptive awareness is often cited as a key quality of eating disorders, yet the precise nature of the deficits and their relationship to eating pathology remains unclear.


Research suggests that our greatest moments of personal fulfillment and pleasure are times we spend fully involved and engaged in a situation with our whole selves: be it a physical activity, a sensory experience, or intimacy with another person. If we are disconnected, we are depriving ourselves of some of the greatest sources of happiness.


While the research on how to heal our interoceptive awareness is still new, there are many studies, and anecdotes that are leading us in a positive direction with what we can do to make these big shifts.





While Interoceptive awareness means developing a curiosity towards the sensations arising within the body, we can say YES to empowering yourself along the way.  Learning to trust your body, and heighten your inner awareness makes navigating life {and food} much more graceful.


Want to trailblaze your own inner path towards interoceptive awareness?  Try these body centered practices that have been part of the Boulder Nutrition methodology for years {and that really work}.


Bring a lot of love, healing, and patience to your relationship to your body:


If you are like most of us, you have probably had times in your journey of life where your body felt like the enemy.  I get it.  It have been there too.  Feeling disconnected, angry at, checked out, turned off, disgusted by and even in conflict with our bodies is a pretty common phenomenon.


You may have experienced this if you struggled with a big health issue, if you have suffered with an eating disorder, if you have chronic stomach aches, or body pain. The truth is, discovering how your body is your biggest ally is like discovering the holy grail.


While releasing the negative emotions and associations with your body is a windy road (with possibly a few bumps along the way), as you watch yourself heal, feel stronger, more intuitive, and more connected to yourself, it won't be long until you find the process inspiring and even enchanting.


My recommendation:  Slow and steady.  All things come in due time and when creating these new neuro and sensory pathways (literally) we are going to have to be patient.   Celebrate your little victories.  Track the positive changes.  Coddle the process in a gentle and loving bubble and you will start to fall in love with the journey.


Create an embodiment practice:


There are many simple mind-body practices that support body awareness, emotional wellbeing, and physical vitality – all leading to improved interception and body awareness.  


Embodiment, as it turns out, is vital to our health and well-being. It may also be a doorway into higher consciousness through a healthly  interoceptive experience.


According to a recent study (Biological Psychiatry, 2016) connecting to the sensations in your body during an embodiment practice such as yoga, offers a powerful gateway to connecting with the junction point between mind and body.  Dr David Creswell’s new study indicates, practicing mindfulness meditation may also increase functional connectivity, or communication, between this ruminating and negative part of the brain, and the part responsible for executive control. 


Embodiment practices increase interception, something many of us have experienced in our personal journeys, but that is now being scientifically validated, and encouraged.



Try the four part check in:


I love to teach the 4 part check in on my retreats and to my women's groups.  I use this almost every day as a platform to check in with myself and see what I can do to take care of myself each day. I learned this through some of the teachings of Deepak Chopra (quoted above) and they have proven to be priceless in my process.


To start, find a quiet place where there is some solace and serenity.  If this means a quiet place in your house, closing the door to your office or pulling over on the way to work at a near by park. You will have a deeper experience where there is some personal peace, and you only need a few minutes. {yes, I have hid in the bathroom from my kids when I needed a moment of peace}


Part One:   How are you feeling in your body?  Describe only the physical sensations, the quality of what is arising on a physical level:  temperature, hunger, tightness, tingly, heavy, achy, the taste on your tongue, the growling in your belly, the tension in your shoulders.  Stay with the physical sensations.  


question:  what does your body need to be nourished


Part Two:  How are you feeling in your emotions? Describe emotions that are arising in the present moment.  More than one?  That's just fine. Emotions can often arise simultaneously.  Describe them (on paper or in your mind)  



Question:  What does your heart nEed to be fed with support and joy?



Part Three:  What is the quality of your thoughts?  Most of us have good days and tough days when it comes to our monkey-mind thoughts. Some days our thoughts are supportive and kind, and other days we are are own worst critic.  



question:  What does your mind need to be free, clear, supportive and kind?


Part Four:  We each have a connection to our higher self, our intuition, and our souls.  There are many names for this aspect of the self, so feel free to insert yours in this process.  Personally, I love this part, as it really challenges some of the more automatic, negative, destructive self talk.



question:  What does your soul need to be at peace?


Consider Forest Bathing:


Have you heard of Forest Bathing?  This innovative nature based technique comes from Japan where the research on time in nature (especially for residents of large cities) has a measurable impact on stress levels, happiness, and quality of life.

Forest Bathing was developed in Japan during the 1980s (known as shin-rin yoku) and has become a cornerstone of preventive health care and healing in Japanese medicine.  

Forest bathing literally translates into "taking in the forest".  You don't have to hike, but rather you can literally bask in the natural environment and soak up the atmosphere.

The research on Forest Bathing is mind-blowing and this is a great way to enhance a mind-body connection while also diminishing stress, slowing down, and being in nature.


Go to a forest. Walk Slowly.  Breathe.  Open all of your senses.


  • Boost immune  function
  • Decrease blood pressure
  • Lower stress
  • Improve outlook on life
  • Increase your ability to focus
  • Increase your energy level
  • Improve your sleep patterns
  • Create a clearer intuition
  • Increase your flow of energy
  • Increased life force
  • Increase overall sense of peace and happiness


Slow down and give yourself down time daily:


Our culture moves so fast.  It is so common to be going from the time we wake up in the morning to the time we fall into bed at the end of the day.


While I know it is hard to prioritize down time and time to move slower amidst our full to-do lists, parenting duties, job requirements and fast paced everything, I really highly recommend you do.


Just that little bit of down time each day (electronic free) will do wonders for you body, mind and soul while also creating the space to enhance your interoceptive awareness.  


When we are distracted by the endless busyness, it is terribly hard to create a heighten inner awareness, especially if this is a big area of struggle.


The best news with all of this is that we CAN heal our interoceptive awareness with implementing just a few of these small changes. I hope your health and healing journey is enhanced by knowing that you too can increase, improve and heal your mind-body connection no matter where you are starting from.  May your journey be insightful, graceful and rich honoring all the wise and dynamic parts of YOU.


Spoiler Alert: The new Yoga of Eating SOULFOOD SESSIONS are just around the corner. BIte size nuggets of wisdom from this year's 2018 guest teachers from The Yoga Of Eating online course and community.  I can't tell you how excited I am to share some brilliant insights from some of the country's most innovative health and wellness experts.  


P.S.  The Yoga of Eating 2018 is opening for registration soon.  I am over the moon with excitement about our new content, our 2018 guest teachers, and I can hardly wait to shower you with  so much support coming. Stay Tuned...

Hello. I am Sue Van Raes, a Nutritional Therapist, Food Psychology Specialist, Nature Lover, and Author.  My mission is to help heal the feminine through food, mind-body connection and pleasure.  You can find out more about me and my work in the world HERE