Do you live to eat or eat to live? Do you feel as you are constantly playing break up and make up with your food? Is your relationship with food a balanced one?
So often we focus on WHAT we eat and miss the importance of HOW and WHY we eat. The daily stressors whether negative (such as having a loved one who is not completely healthy or certain work situations) or positive (such as falling in love or the excitement of starting a new job) trigger so-called EMOTIONAL eating; your mind is full, overwhelmed, and you feel as having a piece of chocolate or your favorite treat would take you out of the situation if just for a moment in time. Note how this behavior is based on EXTERNAL triggers and cues. If there was no need to escape, would you crave the same piece of chocolate? Would you turn to a “sweet moment” if you were not physically hungry? Are you really craving the chocolate or is there a need for something to sweeten your soul/heart? Are you craving for love/appreciation? Are you being mindful in this moment?
Mindfulness roots itself as deep as 2,500 year-old Buddha teachings. “Being mindful is an active state of releasing all judgment and worried thoughts, freeing oneself to fully perceive the moment.” Eating mindfully then allows one to eat in accordance with the INTERNAL cues. Checking in with external and internal environments helps one to be aware of their internal body and mind. The tool, which helps to measure your physical hunger, is called the hunger scale. One example of such scale is presented below:
When physically hungry, usually one would begin eating when they are at 3 and end eating between 6 and 7.
You may ask: “How do I know whether I am emotionally or physically hungry then?” To help you identify whether the hunger is emotional or physical please refer to the table below:
Just with any meditation, mindful eating is a matter of practice and to help you to get into the mindfulness mode, try this sweet meditation recipe:
HOT CHOCOLATE SWEET MEDITATION:
2-4 Tbsp. unsweetened raw cacao powder
(OR 3 oz. dark chocolate bar, broken into pieces)
1 Tbsp. coconut sugar (or 3 drops of liquid Stevia)
Pinch of sea salt
1/2 cup boiling water
2 cups milk of any kind (we prefer nut milks such as almond or coconut)
Optional spices, such as cayenne pepper, vanilla extract, instant coffee, or a cinnamon
Combine the cacao powder, coconut sugar (or sweetener) and pinch of salt in a saucepan. Blend in the boiling water. Bring this mixture to a slight boil while stirring for a few minutes. Breathe in the aroma that rises from the steam and note each breath in and each breath out. Try to imagine that you are about to indulge in this chocolate drink and note what you are feeling and how you are feeling in your body. Keep stirring the mixture and gradually add milk and spices allowing for the mixtures to heat to very hot but not to the boiling point. Take your time, savor the moment and do not rush. When ready, take your favorite mug (the one you associate with very positive emotions and memories) and pour the mixture into it. Chose spacious, comfortable place to sit down and start sipping your hot chocolate slowly. With each sip note how it warms your heart and your soul as well as your physical body. Savor each moment and let go of any thoughts that do not serve you. Relax into your body, enjoy the taste, be happy, and stay sweet!
Dana Filatova, M.S
Source: Foroutan, Robin. ZEN and the Art of Mindful Eating. Food & Nutrition May/June 2013 (pp. 12-13)