Day 74/365 - On intuitive eating
I’m so excited to announce that I’m working on an e-book with fellow pharmacist/nutritionists, spearheaded by my colleague Dr. Christina Tarantola. As a sneak peak, I’d like to share an excerpt from my chapter on intuitive/mindful eating. Enjoy and comment with any suggestions or additions below!
Here are some suggestions to help you build your intuitive eating muscles:
- First and foremost, make sure you are consuming well-balanced, nourishing and regularly scheduled meals to keep your blood sugar constant and your mood steady. Include one main source of protein and some type of healthy fat with each meal for optimal digestion and sustained satiety until the next meal. This step alone will help maintain a positive, well-balanced mood and sustained energy levels throughout the day. It will decrease sugar crashes, headaches, dizzy spells, anxiety/panic attacks and irritability.
- Decrease any type of food that can interfere with your mental capacity or is not nourishing to your body. That means processed, chemical or sugar-laden, packaged foods, inflammatory or allergenic foods, genetically modified, fried, hydrogenated, artificial or any other junk food. These foods will just aggravate your body not only on a physical, but on an energetic/vibrational level. They may give you a temporary ‘high’ due to their addictive natures - by triggering the nucleus accumbens (pleasure center of brain), but in the long run will deplete you physically, spiritually and emotionally. They will take away from your ability to vibrate on a higher energetic plane.
- Before each meal, ask yourself if you are ready for the meal. Do you have real hunger pangs? Have you hydrated sufficiently? If not, drink a glass of water or two. If still hungry in 10-15 minutes, you are ready to eat. Bonus: drinking water, especially with lemon or apple cider vinegar, or taking bitter herbs (as a tea or tincture), will also help jumpstart your digestive functions by stimulating bile secretion.
- Say grace, or any variation of gratitude practice, before meals. Acknowledge how blessed you are to be receiving this meal, that you lovingly prepared or picked out for yourself. Take a moment to admire the aesthetic qualities of the presentation/arrangement and the tantalizing aroma. Imagine how the food got to your plate, perhaps with love and care each step along the way: from the farm, to the market, to the kitchen prep area, and to finally for your consumption.
- This is a crucial step: when eating, slow down. Chew each morsel consciously and deliberately, savoring each sensory perception your taste buds, olfactory nerves, and tactile and auditory receptors register. Noticing the taste, smell, texture and sound (crunch, slurp) of the food enhances your eating experience and gives a much greater satisfaction.
- Did I mention all of this needs to be done in peace and quiet? No TV, Netflix, reading or working during the sacred act of eating! The only exception is in a social setting: eating with friends or family is encouraged as it generally puts a relaxing, pleasant atmosphere to aid in the ‘rest and digest’ process. You may talk and mingle while you eat and enjoy your meal.
- Stop eating when you are about 80% full. In Japan, this is the general dining rule (and let’s not forget one of the world’s blue zones is Okinawa - perhaps this is a major contributing factor?). The slower you eat, the more time you give your brain receptors to catch up to your stomach’s sensory signals. This is why steps 4 and 5 are so important: to allow you to recognize this communication as it’s happening, and not get distracted by other interfering stimuli. If we are not paying attention, we may miss the 80% mark and only start feeling ‘full’ when we’re effectively stuffed. This will result in a tummy ache and feeling guilty for overeating.
- Conclude the meal, perhaps by saying another grace, or another small ritual. Thank the people who shared the meal with you, if any. Savor a small cup of tea or coffee, or even a small piece of [organic, fair-trade, non-GMO] dark chocolate to symbolize the completion of the meal.