Cultivating Balance through Mindful Eating
One component of cultivating balance in our lives is by how we pay attention to our nutritional balance—and this can be achieved by practicing Mindful Eating. Mindful Eating includes choosing our food wisely, eating slowly, being present and focused at each meal, and concentrating on the five senses as we enjoy the variety of tastes and textures in each bite.
This is easier said than done, right? Why? Because we are complex beings with complicated and hectic lives and an array of emotional ups and downs.
“To eat is a necessity, but to eat intelligently is an art.” –
François de La Rochefoucauld
In order to incorporate Mindful Eating successfully into our everyday lives, we first need to understand why we repeat behavior that releases a chain reaction of overeating or eating mindlessly, resulting in feelings of guilt and shame. Why do we forget the overwhelming frustration that stems from this repetitive behavior?
Mindful Eating is intentional. The intention is to love and nurture oneself and to respect one’s body. The intention is to fuel the body with the best available life-sustaining energy provided to us by nature. The goal is to be very aware of our state of mind and the emotions that are present when we experience a particular food craving. For example, feelings of anger, stress, low self-esteem, sadness, anxiety, and boredom might drive us towards food. Acknowledging these emotions and recognizing each one of them for what they are is a good start.
Dealing with the existing problems in a manner that is not food-related is the second step. For instance, choosing a hobby or a practice (such as yoga or meditation) that is therapeutic can be a good substitute for soothing yourself with food. When temptation is staring you in the face, try counting backwards from 10 to 1, with a deep breath in between each number. This buys time and calms the mind. When a craving is overwhelming, you only need about 20 minutes of redirected activity before the craving dissipates.
Something what makes our eating mindless instead of mindful is our practice of getting caught up in the frenzy of life happening around us. We have forgotten how to really enjoy our meals. When was the last time that you sat down at your dining room table, lit some candles and listened to soft music while enjoying your dinner? All too often, we are collectively sitting in front of a laptop, cell phone, or television while eating. In those cases, how well do we really taste that food? How well do we really chew that food? How aware are we of the amount we are eating? What kinds of food did we combine? How well did we digest the food we just ate? Heartburn anyone?!
When you eat mindfully, you eat just enough, so that you are satisfied after your meal; when you eat mindlessly, you get up from the table feeling uncomfortably stuffed to the point of feeling sick. It takes time and practice to make the shift to choose mindfulness over mindlessness. On a daily basis, choose Mindful Eating and create a new habit that supports balance in all areas of our life.
Pomegranate and Lentil Salad with Yogurt Dressing
Enjoy the combination of different flavors and entice your senses with this salad that is an invitation to eat mindfully.
1 cup fresh pomegranate seeds
½ cup cooked lentils
1 cup shredded white and red cabbage
1 cup chopped romaine lettuce
½ cup chopped fresh cilantro (optional)
½ cup slivered raw almonds
3 tbs. low-fat organic Greek yogurt
½ fresh squeezed blood orange or lemon
½ tbs. extra virgin olive oil (optional)
Combine salad ingredients and large bowl. Mix yogurt with citrus and olive oil and stir well. Toss over salad.
Linda Nahai -Nassib CN, CNHP is a certified nutritionist and fitness consultant who specializes in helping people understand the mind/body connection related to food and assists people in healthy eating, reducing emotional eating, and developed balanced fitness plans: nahainassib.com.
On June 27-28, Linda Nahai -Nassib will be teaching Mindful Eating and the uses of herbs and spices at the Total Balance Weekend at Equinox West LA in partnership with Wheel of Wellbeing. The Total Balance weekend features workouts, yoga, meditation, dance, mindful eating, nutrition, healthy meals, and expert coaches and guides for living a balanced life. For more information or to register, visit: wheelofwellbeing.com/total-balance.