Food - a big necessity in life but also a need. So much of what we eat is dictated by emotional eating. If we are upset, we look to food like chocolate, sweets, chips, to make us feel good for that one moment or that one hour. If we are anxious, we may decide to go on a binge of eating our favorite choices. If we are angry, we may deprive ourselves of food or do the opposite. And lets not forget drinking - we think it is a necessity, but it isn't - it is something we choose to do because of how it makes us feel.
There comes a point in someone's life where they are forced to begin making wholesome choices about the types of foods they put in their bodies. Unfortunately for most of us it ends up being becuase of a medical condition and we have no choice. And then we have no alternative but to make decisions because of our health. We end up resenting that and thus begin an unhealthy relationship wtih food. It doesn't have to get to that point. If you are one of those where you feel you are being deprived of certain things - reflect on what does healthy mean to you?
I strongly recommend a Food Log or Journal where you note down what you eat, the time you eat, and how you felt after eating that particular food. It not only helps keep track of the kinds of food your are consuming - i.e. is it all carbs, is it all protein, is it more sweets, or is it just snacking? but it also develops a practice of understanding your patterns better. Keeping track of your food consumption gives you an inside look into what you tend to gravitate to more. For me, in doing so - i know my weakness is carbs. I choose to use the journal as a way of exploring why more carbs. What does eating more carbs do for me rather than eating a well balanced meal.
Mindfulness and eating go hand in hand. Last week, Chef Rama from Wannabee chef put together a beautiful "mommy and me tea " at the spiritual center I attend in honor of mother's day. The kids were in for a surprise. She brought baby spinach, red peppers, cucmbers, and had the kids as young as four years old cut up the veggies-teaching them the art of enjoying what they make. There were comments from children who were not very comfortable eating red peppers including my son. But he cut, and what they ended up making were spinach tortilla wraps - it was a beautful spread. Each of them had to have a bite - as Chef Rama put it - "they tried it, that's what mattered" and that's how we begin to have healthy relationships with food - by making it fun. There was an element of fun involved in that but it also got me thinking - why is that that we move away so far from the things that are so good for us - why do we gravitate towards things that are toxic in nature like soda, like sweets, or rathe sugar, and wheat. We grow up in a culture that supports it and endorses it . And if our children are being consumed with it through advertisements in tv, or at school or when they go to the supermarkets, it makes it more and more difficult to make wholesome choices. But it also made me once again see that these choices start from childhood. And once we have reached adulthood, changing these deeprooted habits is a constant challenge. But it is not a challenge that can't be accomplished. It is about making choices - and ultimately choices that will eventually lead us making us feel good about ourselves.
This week, my colleages and I, as well as my husband have gone on what I would say a full cleanse - It is a seven week cleanse which involves flushing out all the toxins with a prescribed diet for each day. It starts out with eating just fruit and ends up with introducing brown rice and vegetables at the end of the program. It has been a good cleanse. My mind is alert. My body feels energetic, and I feel good. It also involves the act of actively eating - that means we taste, chew and swallow mindfully everything we put in our mouth. It invovles preparation - so we are consciously choosing what we will eat during that day but we also make time to prepare the meals. It involves willpower - so when we think we need to have something but we see we don't really need it because we are making a choice. It is also about a mindset. Has my lifestyle changed drastically in a week? Not really - i'm still able to wake up at my regular time, still able to function effectively. Have i become more irritable because i feel weak and think i need food - i don't think so. Have I become resentful of not being able to eat certain things? for this week no. But again - it is a cleanse and a cleanse is abouf flushing out toxins that we put in our bodies.
What have i learned? Food is a necessity for nutrients and energy for our body. We make choices about what we put in our bodies and much of the time we are mindless when we consume food - because our tongue likes the taste of it - we want it and then we want more and more. I have learned that my mind is much more powerful than I think it is. Just like i can train my mind to stick to this cleanse - similarly, i can in an instant train my mind to do the opposite. The mind can make you believe you are your own worst enemy, and it can make you feel you are your own best friend. So which do you choose? I choose the latter.
A Journal Prompt:
Have a Dialogue with your favorite food. Yes - write it down - dialogue with wine, chocolate, doritos, bread, cheese- have a dialogue with that -let yourself dialogue it out and see where it takes you. Have fun with it. It will lead you places you didn't thing you had.