Tips for More Mindful Eating
By Alissa Rodgers
“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” -Hippocrates
Some people might believe there’s a certain way you have to eat in order to be a “good yogi.” Let me bust that myth right here. Being a “good yogi” is about being mindful. It’s about creating greater awareness around the choices you are making – whether that’s in yoga poses or your every day activities.
For a practice so focused on supporting you in creating optimal health and wellness, we’d be remiss if we didn’t shine light on the choices we make with food. After all, the science is very clear about the strong link between what we eat and how we feel. From a yogic standpoint, brining more consciousness into our eating habits is not about achieving a certain shape, size or weight. It’s about creating certain feelings – those associated with focus, energy and vitality. Becoming more aware of how certain foods affect us can help us make better decisions for our well-being, including those that better support our brain health, provide us with ample energy throughout our day and limit the amount of inflammation and dis-ease in our body.
Where to begin adding mindfulness into our eating? There are a few fairly simple practices you can use to become more aware and then from there, fine tune your eating habits:
- Before eating a meal just because you are on auto-pilot or it’s a particular time where you are used to eating, take a moment to pause with the feelings and sensations in your body. Notice if you are in fact feeling hunger sensations and/or are low on energy. Food is meant to nourish and energize us and it’s helpful to be in tune with the times of day where replenishment is needed most. Most importantly, we want to notice if we are being prompted to eat from boredom or because we are trying to avoid something, our feelings included.
- A short time after eating a meal (30-60 minutes) take a moment of pause to see how you feel. Are you energetic and focused or sluggish and foggy? We want our food to support us in maintaining an optimal state and if your feelings after you eat are less than optimal, that could be a sign something you ate or the quantity you ate put your body out of balance.
- If you are consistently feeling lethargic after meals, experiment with abstaining from one type of food for a week. See how making just one adjustment makes you feel. If you feel better post-meal, that could be an indicator that the food you eliminated is one that doesn’t work well for your biology. If your post-meal feelings don’t change, that food is likely not the culprit and you can experiment with removing another food for a period of time.
- Try eating one all-natural, completely unprocessed meal per day. If that seems overwhelming, start with one per week. Our bodies tend to prefer foods in their most natural states that aren’t laden with added sugars, preservatives and dyes. Treating your body to one completely unprocessed meal daily or weekly will be a wonderful gift to your health!
- If you are someone like me who thrives with some extra accountability or structure, try a program like Whole30. I like this program because it offers a lot of flexibility in what you can eat versus being heavily restricted in what you can’t. I also find that doing something like this with a group adds in that extra bit of push that can help keep us on track. I also found the Plant Paradox helpful. I have an autoimmune disorder and so experimenting with eliminating foods that are known to cause inflammation not only kept my psoriasis at bay, I also felt much more energetic and focused.
A few times a year, we do a group Whole30 at our studios to bring in the feeling of community support. Check here to see if we’ve got one upcoming!
Know that even small changes repeated consistently compound and add up to make a large difference over time. Starting small is often the key to success so don’t overwhelm yourself with a goal that’s not reasonable for your life! Here’s to more mindful living and feeling your best!