Ecstatic Yoga Workbook
EY Mindful Eating
Ecstatic Yoga, Mindful Eating
Playing with mindful eating can transform your relationship with food and your body in positive and nurturing ways physically, mentally and spiritually.
When we eat unconsciously over time, we can disturb the signals and mind/body connection that tells us when we are hungry and full. Eating unconsciously can be due to stress eating, emotional eating or poor learned eating habits. Eating dead or empty foods can lead to malnutrition, not having the required nutrients our bodies need to operate optimally. This will negatively affect the mind, body and spirit. Lack of vitality, mental confusion, anxiety and depression and loss of passion. We can transform unconscious eating into conscious mindful eating with desire and effort. A worthwhile effort that will transform our bodies to healthier more vibrant temples for a vibrant and joyous life.
Think of a conscious and pleasurable meal you recently experienced. Your hunger was satisfied, you savored each bite and the food provided pleasure, you stopped when your stomach was content and comfortable. The meal left positive emotional states and sensory pleasures. This is mindful eating and the goal for every meal. The more aware you are of the food you are consuming, the more satisfying the eating experience.
Definition of Mindful Eating
Mindful eating includes being conscious and intentional about what you put into your body for food as well as a healthy mindset in how you relate to the food you eat and healthy habits for how and what you eat.
Improved Digestion and assimilation of nutrients in food
Improved relationship to food
Health and vitality
Balance in diet and weight management
Healthier food choices
Improved relationship to your body
Increased pleasure and satisfaction with food and eating
Mindful Eating in choosing Food
In choosing food we will begin with growing and purchasing food and what motivates us to choose the foods we grow and purchase.
In a perfect world where everyone was provided with optimal nutrition we would all have a personal garden year round that would provide a large percentage of all our food needs. However, in this modern era that is not always possible, therefore the foods we cannot grow we want to choose consciously and wisely.
When we are mindful of the food we choose to eat, the food we ingest into our body, we begin to bring awareness of how the food will affect us, we become mindful of the quality of food, the nutrients we are choosing and how all of what we choose to eat affects us physically, mentally and spiritually.
Choosing foods that are nutrient dense, toxin free, natural, easily digested, assimilated and high vibrational is a benefit of becoming mindful of our food choices. As you get used to eating nutrient dense, alive and natural foods you will find they taste better, feel better and bring more pleasure and vibrant health to the body, mind and spirit.
The healthiest foods are foods in their natural raw form, grown organically with no toxic pesticides, genetically altered seeds or depleted soils. Foods from mother earth unprocessed, non toxic and nutrient dense are always the highest vibrational foods to eat. With processing and cooking, foods lose nutrients. A raw organic apple will have more nutrients than applesauce and far more nutrients and life force energy to offer the cells in your body than an apple pie. A raw organic carrot will have far more nutrients and vitality for your mind, body and spirit than a carrot cake.
Think of the healthiest food as the food closest to its natural form and as non-toxic as possible for the highest nutritional and vibrational benefits. Humanly raised, organic, non GMO, without hormones, pesticides or any other toxic or unconscious processing.
Also, a part of choosing the food you will consume into your body is choosing balanced and nutrient dense foods that provide all the 90 essential nutrients a human body needs each day. We are custodians of the body we have inherited from our parents and Source and therefore it is our responsibility to provide at least the minimum nutrient requirements our bodies need each day for optimal functioning. Many studies have been done to determine the 90 daily essential nutrients a human body needs every day. If we eat a variety of nutrient dense foods throughout the day we may provide those 90 essentials, however if not it is wise to find a supplement to ensure our daily required nutrients. I find liquid or powdered supplements far superior than tablets or pills. Liquids and powders assimilate into the body cells better because often pills don’t breakdown and release the nutrients as well as liquids and powders. Don’t rely on the supplements alone, not all the nutrients are absorbed. Even if taking supplements be responsible to choose nutrient dense foods to feed your body what it needs to be in optimal health, vitality and well-being.
Choosing fresh and raw vegetables and fruits, whole grains, healthy omegas and proteins. You can make small choices to help clean up your diet and bring higher nutrient density to the foods you make. Choose wholegrain bread rather than bleached and processed white bread. An even better carb choice than bread would be organic whole grain brown rice, quinoa, millet, or organic potatoes.
Junk food is appropriately named because it is putting food into your body that has no nutrition and often abundant in toxins and it is best to avoid completely, however in this day and age it is difficult to avoid all unhealthy foods and an occasion treat is ok. Do your best to eliminate unhealthy food chemicals like sugar, caffeine, artificial colors and flavors, soda, processed foods, hormones, caged, inhumanely raised, dead foods and nitrate filled foods like salami or bologna. We can choose mindfully to eat these during special events as occasional treats, however not as our normal diet.
Treating your body as a temple, as a sacred vessel will help to motivate and inspire you to choose foods for the highest functioning and vitality of the body rather than choosing dead, toxic, genetically modified or processed foods because they taste good. Artificial colors, flavors as additives to food builds toxins in the cells of the body and offers no vitality or nutrition. Choosing foods unconsciously due to bad habits, food triggers and emotional binging doesn’t support well-being and is not treating your body kindly.
Treat your body as a sacred temple and splurge on yourself with nutrient dense, clean, vibrant food choices. The highest food choice is garden to table. A carrot or tomato that is picked fresh from the garden is full of life force energy from Mother Earth. It is still living and that live vibration when entering the body enlivens the cells and brings vitality to the cells. A food you open up from a can that has sat on the grocery store shelf, transported for days in a truck and full of preservatives will not provide near the nutrients that living food you pick straight from your organic garden will provide.
Choose liquids and drinks like water, lemon water, herbal teas, juices, smoothies rather than soda, coffee and power drinks with artificial chemicals.
Mindful Eating in Relationship to Food
Are you connected to the food you put into your body? Are you conscious and mindful of the food you put into your body? Are you grateful to the food honoring its sacrifice to bring life to your body and sustain your health and well-being.
In order to be connected to the food we eat we first need to consciously choose the food to nourish our body as well as enjoy the food we eat. It begins with becoming aware of the food we have chosen, being grateful for the food we are blessed to enjoy and honoring the process in which the food has traveled in order to be on our dinner plate.
We choose food that will nourish the body for optimal health and well-being, we also honor planet Earth and the energy of the sun for providing the food. In creating a relationship with the food we put into our bodies, that relationship begins with honoring the food and experiencing gratitude for the nourishment we are blessed to have.
A powerful way to honor and express our gratitude for the food we are choosing, preparing and eating is to bring an awareness of the journey of how the food was conceived and how it made its way to your plate. Bringing your awareness to the seed that was planted and the hands that planted that seed. To those who watered, sowed, weeded, tended the plants that became the food on your plate. Bringing awareness to the animal that was born, raised and slaughtered and those who raised, fed and cared for that animal.
Having gratitude and awareness of the plants, animals and minerals journey to your plate after harvest or slaughter. Those who packaged and transported the food. Those who filled the shelves or delivered the food to your home, those who prepared it, all those involved in bringing the nutrients, fuel and life force to enliven your body.
Becoming more appreciative, connected to and intimate with the nutrients you ingest and ultimately the Earth in providing those nutrients. Bringing awareness to the gift and blessing of the offering, grateful to the food, the planet and all those who participated in process of nourishing your body.
When we connect to the food with love and gratitude as our friend, we ingest the food with love and gratitude and the energy and nourishment that is provided to your body is amplified. The vibrations of love and gratitude as well as the vibrations of the nutrients enter your body and affect the body in a positive and nurturing way.
It isn’t just the food we eat, it is the relationship based in love and appreciation that affects the health, vitality and well being of the body, mind and spirit. When we relate to the food we eat by bringing grateful awareness to the process from seed to table, when we relate to the food with appreciation and love, the energetic vibration of the food amplifies and the benefit to your body, mind and spirit soars.
Mindful Eating in Preparing Food
When you prepare your food you have the opportunity to do so with mindfulness, gratitude and love. Rather than rushing through the preparation of your meals with your mind listening to a movie in the background, multitasking several other projects simultaneously or preparing while talking on the phone you can choose to bring your single focused attention to the joy of and sacred opportunity of preparing your food.
When you prepare your food with purpose rather than obligation the food tastes better. The vibration of the food is higher. When food is prepared with attention, love and gratitude those powerful, positive vibrations will enter into the food and benefits your mind, body and spirit. If you need to cut vegetables you can do so with mindful presence with each cut, sending love and gratitude to the food you cut and slice it.
Bringing your full and loving attention to the preparation brings a deeper gratitude for the food you will eventually eat. One way to bring a single focus to the preparation is to turn off other distractions around you and as you cut, stir, pour, bake say to yourself, “Cutting”, “Stirring”, “Pouring”, “Putting food into the oven.” This brings you into mindfulness and presence as you fulfil these tasks.
Also, setting the table or space you have chosen to eat can be done mindfully and with gratitude. Set a pleasant table for yourself and other’s who will be joining you. Be mindful as you place the silverware and plates on the table, floor or space you will be eating. Light a candle, place some flowers or anything that brings a positive and celebratory feeling.
Mindful Eating; Ingesting Food
We have chosen vibrantly healthy foods we love, we have prepared the food and our table with mindfulness, love and gratitude and now it is time to eat our food. We don’t want to gobble it all down fast without enjoying or even tasting it, we want to also eat it mindfully.
Say a prayer or intention to be mindful before eating. It can be helpful to take a few deep breaths before you eat to center yourself or bless your food by holding your hands over your food and send the food love, gratitude and blessings. Find your personal form of prayer or blessing. Say a pray or create an intention that honors your truth.
Centering yourself before you eat with a prayer, breathwork, intention of gratitude for the food you will be putting into your body helps to bring all your awareness to the sacred act of nourishing your body. One short centering prayer, blessing or intention can bring mindfulness present during your entire meal.
Turn off the computer, the phone, the TV, put down the book, the laundry and any other possible distraction and bring all your attention to the act of eating… taste the food, chewing, swallowing, savoring each bite with gratitude and love. You may even want to close your eyes as you savor the flavor.
Eat slowly & Taste
Eating our food slowly while tasting, savoring, appreciating and enjoying the food is a way to practice mindful eating. When we slowly chew and taste our food rather than shovel the food down, we bring our attention to the food and enjoy the process of eating. Eating slowly, sipping slowly or chewing the food well while tasting and savoring the food with appreciation and pleasure brings a sense of satisfaction and honoring to your body and the meal. A benefit to eating slowly is that our bodies better digest and assimilate the nutrients in our foods. Lastly when we eat slowly we give our stomach time to signal to our brain that we are full.
Listen to your body
When we slow down and listen to our body with presence, we can hear our own instincts that tell us when to stop eating. We better recognize when we are full so we can stop eating before we get uncomfortably full. We can listen to our brain as it recognizes pleasure and signals satisfaction.
Put your utensils down while chewing
Putting your utensil down while you chew is a simple behavior that can trigger more mindfulness when you eat. It also slows you down and reminds you to really enjoy the food and bring awareness to the process of chewing and tasting the food with conscious presence while you eat. Often people hold their utensil the entire meal and shovel more food into their mouths before they have properly chewed what is in their mouth. This habit often leads to a failure to even taste and enjoy what is already in the mouth before the next bite arrives.
By putting your eating utensils down you are consciously choosing a behavior that will bring mindfulness to the food that is in your mouth. You can bring your full attention and awareness to what is in your mouth, the taste, texture, smell of the food rather than unconsciousness.
Savor the Flavor
When we deeply and consciously taste our food, enjoy what we are eating, and bring attention to the food in our mouth we enjoy the process, feel more fulfilled and receive more benefit and pleasure from eating. Challenge yourself as to how much flavor you can savor, how much enjoyment you can reap, how much pleasure you can gain from each bite of food. You may want to allow the food to sit in your mouth all chewed up and simply taste it deeply allowing it to melt in your mouth. Make a conscious choice to dine during your meals, make it a sacred activity.
Mindful Eating in Food Triggers
Sometimes we eat completely unconsciously and a handful of chips turn into an empty bag. Often with no memory of or enjoyment of the taste and flavor. Of course, a bowl of organic brown rice would be a higher nutritional choice than chips, however, at times only chips will fulfill that craving… and you can choose to eat those chips mindfully. One way to help you to avoid unconscious eating is to mindfully set portions… fill a pre-sized container with the amount of chips you consciously choose to eat. Find chips that have no artificial colors or flavors, eat the chips slowly savoring the flavor mindfully.
Take time when you are hungry to feel into your body and ask yourself what you are craving. Take it slow rather than quickly grabbing what is easy and maybe unhealthy. When we listen to our body and give it what it is craving we provide fulfilment and don’t over eat. This is a way to honor your body… taking the time to feel and think it through, ask the body what it is needing and craving and fulfill those needs mindfully. By giving your body what it is craving you are satisfying your body’s needs, your mind feels honored and your spirit feels free.
Often we eat when emotional upsets occur, when we feel stressed, lonely or empty emotionally. This is an unconscious habit to avoid feeling the upset, to soothe yourself or feel more fulfilled. One very important thing to remember is to eat and fill the body with food to soothe upsetting emotions doesn’t ever solve the cause of the upset. It doesn’t fulfil the emotional emptiness. When these urges arise, you can choose to be aware of the habit and automatic reaction to eat emotionally and choose to support yourself more mindfully. If you are feeling upset a walk in nature, meditation, talking to someone, or doing something positive for yourself, something you love can be far more supportive than stuffing yourself with a dozen donuts or a gallon of ice cream that will only leave you feeling sicker and possibly remorseful for your choice.
Be curious about your food triggers, maybe after dinner you always crave something sweet or at the movies you buy popcorn without even thinking because being in the movie theatre triggers the craving for popcorn. Choose from awareness rather than reaction and triggers. I like popcorn at the movies, however I am aware and consciously choose popcorn because it is a favorite food of mine. That may be the same for you, or you may have a different favorite food for watching movies. Be honest and aware with your choice rather than reactional and habitual.
It is important to be aware of negative talk and avoid being hard on yourself when you have slipped and eaten something unhealthy or too much of a good thing. Negative talk can lead to binge eating and self-loathing and it is good to avoid both of these disempowering ways of being.
Some ways to help with food triggers is to not keep large amounts of the food that you reach for in your home, better yet avoid any unhealthy food in your home. If you do have risky foods at home, eat in moderation, using measuring or portion control. Purchase single serving options rather than bulk, that way portion control is already done. Avoid places like all you can eat buffets if you tend to overeat or lose control and eat too much when it is all you can eat.
It can be helpful to keep a journal and write about your eating experience whether you had a mindful eating experience or an unconscious eating experience. Journal about your thoughts and feelings around your eating experiences. The biggest breakthrough for me after several years of dealing with an eating disorder was to discover the thoughts that triggered me to eat. When I chose to not eat as a reaction to those thoughts and began questioning those thoughts and released the temptation to think negative thoughts I finally healed my eating disorder.
Mindful Eating; Body Image and Type
Everyone has a unique body type and food preferences and nutritional needs can vary from body to body, person to person. There are some people who cannot eat gluten, dairy or nuts. Some feel better as a vegan or vegetarian and some people’s bodies are healthier eating meat in moderation.
Eat to nourish and energize your body type, including foods that compliment your chemistry and bring vitality and energy to your body. Check out the book Eat for your Body Type and listen to your own body noticing what foods energize you and what foods deplete your energy.
A mindful relationship to your body is based on loving and accepting yourself and your body as it is, while moving toward greater and greater health and conscious care. Transform any self-loathing thoughts toward your body and affirm positive and loving thoughts. Bring love and acceptance for the miraculous and sacred temple your body truly is. No one has a perfect body, everyone has flaws, focus on the good your body provides and be grateful for the gift of embodiment. Through mindfulness and love you can choose to treat your body and self with great kindness and self-care at all times and in all circumstances.
Consider making it an intention to practice mindfulness during all your meals and every time you eat, even snacking. Create a positive relationship to food and eating to create a positive mental connection to food and the act of eating. Choose nutrient dense healthy food options for a vibrant body/mind/spirit… what nourishes the body, nourishes the soul. Becoming mindful and fully conscious while we eat develops alignment of the emotional, physical and spiritual aspects of our being for a more joyous eating experience and life creating optimal health, vitality, joy and well-being.