Mindful Eating to Combat Obestiy
I've been India for two months now, delving deeper into a decade-long passion of mine: Ayurveda. For a crash course in Ayurveda, check out this book by THE leader in the field, Dr. Vasant Lad.
The other book I'd recommend for more information is this textbook on fundamental Ayurvedic principles.
I got inspired to write this blog after working with a student for the past year who had gastric bypass surgery due to being obese and his weight causing him health complications.
Losing weight is not an easy task, especially when you’ve been over eating, stress-eating, and choosing low nutrient-high-calorie foods your entire life. The body has adapted, sometimes over decades, to carrying around this excess weight. The body becomes accustomed to this way of being and the person experiencing this cannot see any other way to be. Eating habits become secondary to life, unconscious, and without respect for the food and where it has come from. We choose the wrong foods for our body type and this leads to more and more unhealthy food choices. When we eat stale, left-over, or processed foods, we send signals to ourselves that we are unworthy of being nourished. Additionally, when we eat in noisy or busy places, we run the risk of allowing our attention to be distracted away from eating.
Oftentimes, just having this major potential life-impacting surgery doesn’t get to the root of the problem; it simply puts a band-aid over a much deeper issue. The root cause of obesity will be different for everyone and it is up to the person to dig deep, usually with the help of a trusted professional, to get to the root issue.
Ayurveda is a powerful tool in addressing over-eating, binge-eating, and stress-eating. Ayurveda, yoga’s sister science AKA the science of life, teaches us ways to approach our life, which includes eating, in a holistic manner. It’s a holistic system of medicine, native to India, and is still in practice today, after thousands of years of being passed down both orally and through written form. Ayurveda is vast and includes simple techniques and practices as well as more sophisticated surgical techniques and healing practices.
Check out this book which delves deeper into the art of mindful eating.
Steps to Healthy and Mindful Eating
- Feed someone else first or say a prayer before eating
- Eat foods which are compatible with one another
- Eat only when your stomach is empty and you feel hungry
- Eat to balance the dosha-s
- Eat foods that taste good
- Eat mostly freshly prepared, warm, and moist food
- Eat according to geography, season and age
- Eat consciously; pay attention as you prepare, serve, and chew your food
- Eat in a pleasant surrounding
- Eat to 1⁄2 capacity of stomach, leaving 1⁄4 for water & 1⁄4 for air (so food can be digested)
Implement one step at a time into your daily routine. Remember, it took time for you to develop these habits, and it will also take time to learn new habits. Be gentle with yourself and take it one step at a time.
How will you know when your changes have worked? Some signs of a healthy diet are feeling satisfied after eating, having ease in walking, breathing, and speaking after eating, and having a fresh breath, clean tongue, and regular bowel movements.
Ayurvedic Definition Of Health:
Samadoshaha, samagrishvaha, samadhatumalakriyaha, Prassannatmatmoindriyamanoha, swastha, ityabhidhiyiate Su.Sa. 15.41
"A healthy person is established in Self, with balanced doshas & agni, properly formed tissues, has proper elimination of wastes, properly functioning body processes, has clarity of mind and senses and is able to experience the Bliss of knowing Self."
It is through these steps, and perhaps working with a professional nutritionist and/or psychotherapist, that you will begin to uncover the subconscious thoughts and feelings behind your eating habits.
It isn’t until you slow down to observe that you can begin to uncover the reasons behind your unhealthy eating habits.
Yoga offers us this food prayer:
Annam brahma, Raso Vishnu
Pakto Devo Mahesvara
Evam Jnatva Tu Yo Bhunkte
Anna Dosho Na Lipyate
Brahma gives us food
Vishnu the ability to find its essence
Shiva cooks this essence into us
When you eat with this awareness
The food becomes pure and no toxins stay in you