Mindful eating has become a buzz word. You can for sure google how to eat mindfully and it will tell you: Listen to our body’s signals, stop when you feel full and appreciate your food. All well said and done.
Mindful eating is so much more then that. First of all, there is so much to being mindful. It is a daily practise for life. Second of all, one must go deep, deep below the layers of your ‘Being’ to enable to discover what has prevented you from being mindful in the first place. For those of you who know me; I like to give people substantial help and advice, so let’s explore the HOW and the WHY first. Let’s look at the CAUSE of why we aren’t mindful.
To become a mindful eater will take time but just remember the best comes to those who wait, so be kind to yourself.
I am starting each step with a quote for inspirational purposes. May you feel the inspiration rushing though your body. This will transform your life for the better so I hope you are ready and brave enough to put it into practice.
1 ‘Awareness is like the Sun, when it Shines on Things, they are Transformed’ – Thich nhat hanh
Usually, until something is brought to your attention, you do not realise it exists, it’s importance, or needs to be changed. Without awareness we will keep doing what we are doing (robot life), whether it’s working or not. This applies to your current health, they way you eat and the way you live your life. Is it really working for you?
What I have found is that people walk around enslaved to food. They think food is the master and they have no control over the biscuits in the cupboard or the chocolate cake at the local coffee shop. Food has simply become the boss!
How have we become so paralysed to food? How have we totally lost our sense of autonomy when it comes to that we decide to eat and don’t eat?
Let me explain why.
We have a biological need to eat, that’s a fact. As a baby you knew when and how much you wanted to drink. But…then your parents decided to tell you what to eat, society told you that you MUST start your day with breakfast and that eating after 8pm will cause weight gain. Or how about culture who told you that in order to celebrate life or to avoid pain, food is the answer!
You got an A grade at school, lets have a meal out!
Someone teased you at school and you come home crying, let’s have ice cream as that will help!
We associate both positive and negative emotions with food, no wonder we have lost the connection to food. We simply don’t feel our feeling as we haven’t been taught how to! We run away from our feeling, we use food to soothe us…or drugs, alcohol, sex, excessive TV watching and excessive hours spent at the exercise.
Emotional eating has become an epidemic. Nine out of ten people I see struggle with their relationship with food. The harsh reality is that our relationship with food is in fact the relationship we have with ourselves.
Are you only putting goodness into your body? Or are you rushing around and snacking on whatever comes your way? Do you have boundaries to what you decide to consume? Or do you eat anything that’s available to you at the canteen? Have you put effort into packing a wholesome lunch? I could go on…
Remember this, life is a mirror of how you treat and feel about yourself. We create our own lives from the inside and out. You are the captain of your soul!
Therefore, we must start with awareness. I end and/or start my day with awareness. Get quite, sit down and think what is and isn’t working for you. What needs to change. Then close your eyes and focus on your breath. That’s all it takes. So sit with yourself everyday, you deserve yourself.
And…think about this fundamental question: What is my relationship with food like? Get honest with yourself today.
2 ‘Trust your Instincts, Intuition doesn’t Lie’ – Oprah Winfrey
We all are born with an inner compass. We know what to do and when, we just don’t listen. We listen to everyone and anything around us, expect ourselves.
But then this is because we have grown up ‘having to listen’ to the teacher, to the boss, to mum, to dad…
But they are not you. They don’t have you intuition…
In some circumstances, your intuition could actually save your life. I am sure we all have examples of this. The same applies to food. If we actually listened to our body and it’s messages, it could potentially ‘save’ your life, your health. Let me explain further.
Intuitive eating is something I am extremely passionate about and that’s because it is the most empowering feeling to own as you will always know what to do!
I have come to the point where my body tells me exactly what it wants and when. It even tells me whether it wants an orange or an apple or red or yellow pepper. I listen…always. My body knows best, not me!
How can we cultivate intuitive eating? Well first we must use awareness (step 1) to strip away all the layers that have been covered us up and prevented us to be able to listen to what we want, like and what we need.
Are you eating breakfast because you want to or because you feel you have to? You don’t have to do anything you don’t want and feel like. WE HAVE A CHOICE!
Most of us walk around like slaves or what I like to call followers or sheeps. We must follow OURSELVES, not anyone else. So firstly bare this in mind….awareness is number one.
Then I promise you, your body will start to talk to you. However, you must also start to reconnect your gut with your brain. You see, your gut is your second brain and it is in fact also responsible for what you choose to eat. Those excessive food cravings you have? Think about the health of your gut. Do you feel tired and depressed? Think abut your gut.
Our gut is connected to our brain via the vagus nerve. Research shows that if you have dysbiosis (imbalance) in your gut then this can negatively impact your health.
So if your diet isn’t great, if you have undiagnosed food intolerances, if you take regular antibiotics and if you suffer with stress then these factors will affect the health of your gut…negatively.
So therefore, we can not be mindful if we can’t hear what our body tells us. Re-connect your gut with your brain. Nourish your gut and watch how your body will talk to you. It is such a beautiful feeling.
You may now be asking yourself : How do we nourish our gut then Nishti?
I think YOU know the answer to it. Is it stress? If it is, what do you think I would tell you to do? Do you eat a healthy diet that suits YOU? If not, then I think you know what you must do. Eat a good diet. I can assist you. Pre and probiotics foods are extremely important to help us keep a nourished and balanced gut but that would be another blog post of mine to share.
Also, once you become aware of your body, you will know if some foods cause bloating, bad poo etc. Most of us walk around with undiagnosed food intolerances and then we wonder why we feel crap? That’s when you need to make changes as your body is telling you too. Don’t ignore the signs, listen to your body so you can strengthen your intuition.
3 ‘Comparison is the Thief of Joy’ – Rosewelt
I have changed this to ‘ Comparison is the Thief of Health’ – Nishti
National healthy eating guidelines (Eat Well Guide or Food Pyramid) tells us what we should eat. However, lately I have started to question this because how can I, as a health care professional, tell someone how to eat when everyone is completely unique!
it’s like me saying: We must all wear size 12 jeans! or Everyone must drive the same car!
It makes no sense….
We take for granted that human beings are as unique on the inside as they are on the outside.
I don’t believe there is such thing as a healthy diet because:
One diet doesn’t suit all, in fact, ‘One man’s food is another man’s poison’.
We tend to jump on diet trends like mad without even asking ourselves ‘Does this suit me?’
I have seen people jump on a vegan diet or a raw diet because it is ‘in fashion’ but if they really listened to themselves and to signals their body sends them (bloating, weight gain, fatigue, mood swings, infertility etc.) then really..they shouldn’t be following that diet at all!
I also see people who continue to eat dairy because they ahve been told that calcium is best absorbed from dairy products. Though they suffer with IBS symptoms (bad poo habits, wind etc.) eczema and acne, they don’t listen to their body.
I see people who eat excessive amounts of wheat but because the doctor told them ‘you have no allergy to wheat’ they continue eating a diet does not suit their genetics, their uniqueness. This is madness! We all tolerate different foods on various levels. So I can eat a lot of dairy but not wheat. I can’t eat a lot of fruit as I get bloated. What is your uniqueness?
Ignoring the type of diet and way of life of our ancestors is also very ignorant when it comes to our current wellbeing. Why? Because our ancestors dietary needs were the result of years of adaptation. I see how ignorance can be the cause of various conditions such as diabetes, obesity, skin problems (eczema etc.) and food intolerances across many cultures and it fascinates me every time when I’m able to pinpoint why the African child suffers with bloating and why the young Asian lady is diagnosed with gestational diabetes despite following a healthy Western diet. People who’s ancestral heritage is African suffer greatly with an intolerance to wheat (and most of them don’t even know it because we live in a society where the CAUSE of IBS isn’t acknowledged. We just ‘treat’ conditions with medication!). Wheat intolerance in the African community who live in the modern world is only common sense since their Ancestors lived mainly of wheat free carbohydrates sources such as rice, maize and yam. Or how about Asian cultures who have a difficult time digesting dairy. Whereas people from cultures like the Nuer of the upper Nile or the Todas from Southern India, where milk is a traditional staple, have a much easier time digesting dairy. My heritage is from the Middle East, a continent where rice is staple and where protein is consumed in large amounts (mainly lamb). This explains why my body prefers a lot of protein and why I crave red meat and why wheat bloats me!
We have become a genetic melting pot living and eating according to ‘modern standards’ and then we wonder why most of us walk around unhealthy and unhappy? So I encourage you, if you want to optimize your health well then let’s go back to basics, let’s look at our forgotten heritage.
I have developed an approach to eating call the 1-2-3 Healthy Eating Approach. It teaches people how to eat and combine the main food groups with each meal depending on their ‘NUTRITIONAL UNIQUENESS’, ONE CAN NOT JUST EAT LIKE THE NEXT PERSON. YOU MUST KNOW WHAT IS BEST FOR YOU.
For example, I know that my body prefers high protein, high fat, low gluten and fructose diet.
That’s me though, not you. So what are YOU? My nutritional needs change with the seasons, so does yours.
Change is the only constant. We can’t follow something forever and think it will benefit us. That’s madness.
The 1-2-3 is also about mindfulness. In fact it starts with Awareness, Intuition and then No Comparison. So you will know your perfect food balance of 1-2-3 once you have mastered:
3 No Comparison
Let’s focus on uniqueness & individuality!
I wish you abundance in MIND/BODY/SOUL
Please note that this information neither is medical advice, nor is it meant to replace the advice of your doctor or dietitian and I assume no liability for the use or misuse of this information.