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Practicing Mindful Eating For Improved Health And Happiness

Practicing Mindful Eating For Improved Health And Happiness

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“When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.

When you change the way you be with things, the things you be with change.”

                                                                                                              – Paul Epstein, ND

Mindful eating is a way of life. As we welcome in the Spring, the Equinox is a few days off, bringing mindfulness to our lives and our eating habits can have profound impacts on our health and happiness.  We often begin the Spring with goals in mind for the coming of warm Summer weather. “I am going to commit to getting outside and exercising more, to lose weight, and look better in my sundress, shorts, tank top, bathing suit, etc.”  We wish to fulfill our desire to alter our body’s appearance in some way and just feel better, healthier, in a truly tangible manner. Spring is the rising of new energies and possibilities for all beings.

Just What Is Mindful Eating?

Many of us are aware that yet another diet is not the answer. A diet can be an opportunity to succeed or fail in this moment. Setting oneself up for success is a huge blessing. There’s also the possibility of another failure, in the back of our minds, so we instead back off in caution. If I don’t try, I don’t have to get upset with myself if I fail. 

As a culture, we have tried them all: “South Beach”, Jenny Craig, Slim-Fast, High carb, Low carb, Cabbage soup, High Protein, Vegan, Paleo, Detox diets…blah, blah, blah and the list goes on. A diet, in the moment, to quick fix problems is better replaced with habits to maintain for a lifetime of health promotion. 

Are you open to a new approach; a mind, body, and spirit approach?  Bringing mindfulness to our eating habits, living habits, to who we are, and what we are about in this life can have profound impacts on the way we live our lives.  Confronting the truths in our lives, how we got to the space we are in right now is what ultimately liberates us, not our desire to be free.

So, when we face this Spring of New Beginnings in our lives, let us face it from a space of truthfulness.  Perhaps our truths will free us to find our own path, our sacred path to health and healing.

Mindful Eating And Food Focus

What if your Food Focus was all about heart, mind, and spirit food not just physical food we put into our mouths to chew, swallow, and digest?

Alignment of your body, mind, and spirit is a key to whole health and healing.  When we make choices to heal the mind and spirit, the door to physical healing opens.

What we eat changes everything – not just the “food” we feed our physical bodies with but just as importantly (maybe even more importantly), the thoughts and actions we feed our mind and spirit with.  When our heart, mind, and spirit are in alignment anything and everything is possible.

When we feed our heart and spirits whole ‘food’, our body better uses the whole foods that we place in our mouths, chew, and actually physically eat, digest, and assimilate into our cells.  We digest, absorb, circulate, and utilize the nutrients of physical food, more efficiently and completely, when we are happy and whole as humans.  Our bodies then use the nutrients very efficiently to heal our beautiful body cells.

Contemplating Mindful Eating

mindful eating

I very often contemplate why some people are successful in making lifestyle changes and others struggle for a lifetime to make changes.  Baby steps are great; any change toward health and healing is a gift to give oneself. 

These are the thoughts I have come up with, based upon what I have experienced. I have been contemplating this personal lifestyle habits conundrum for many years. My master’s thesis, at 25 years old, was on adherence to exercise and lifestyle changes. 32 years later and I still ponder the habits of people.   

Body awareness type exercises, body-mind-spirit BMS, (Yoga, Breath Work, Tai Chi, Qi Gong, Tae Kwon Do, Meditation, Walking Meditation, etc.) help people gain control of their lives and feel at peace with anything.

When we stop the constant chatter inside our heads and still our minds through mindfulness activities (body awareness exercises, BMS exercises), we tend to make choices that are in alignment with what is best for our health without feeling deprived.   When we are living in the present moment, we are aligned in body, mind, and spirit.  Body awareness exercises bring this subconscious awareness to our being. When we live in the present moment, as opposed to being stuck in the past or anxious about the unknown future, we are free to make peaceful decisions for the here and now. 

When we quiet our minds, we use our emotions to our advantage.  When our minds are busy, our emotions use us.

A mind is a powerful tool. You can train yourself to use it or you can allow your mind to use you. 

When we align body, mind, and spirit we naturally and unconsciously make choices that best serve our health, our true being.  No feelings of deprivation or guilt, just plenty of good healthy energy.

Ways to create a living in the present moment experience enhanced by mindful eating: 

  • Deep breathing exercises, 
  • Progressive muscle relaxation, 
  • Yoga sun salutation in the AM, 
  • Tai Chi, 
  • Qi Gong, 
  • Tae Kwon Do, 
  • Meditation of any variety that makes you happy including woods walking meditations, 
  • A regular yoga, 
  • prayer…

Aligning each above practice with a connection to breath, vital life force energy can restore balance and present moment living in body-mind-spirit.

“The great paradox of this “work” is that there is no reward to strive toward, because the practice is the reward. In the very moment you focus your attention by coming back into your body, your breath, and your immediate sensate reality, you will experience a deep sense of vibrant stillness. This feeling is so pleasurable, so joyful and revitalizing that you will be drawn to practice, and, more important, you will begin to be naturally drawn toward lifestyle choices that nourish your well-being.

This work is not about forcing yourself to give up anything, because that which is no longer nourishing to you will gradually drop away effortlessly. There is no waiting and no delayed gratification because yoga is both the means and the result, and the seed of all that is possible is present at the very beginning.” 

                                      ― Donna Farhi, Yoga Mind, Body & Spirit: A Return to Wholeness

I am not putting words in Donna Farhi’s mouth, but I would say that any of the above-mentioned body-mind-spirit activities can have this impact on our being. Each person needs to find the magic that works for them, including mindful eating. Have fun finding your magic.

Find more articles by Paula Youmell, RN, Wise Woman Nurse.

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