Yoga for the Stomach
Mindful eating, or intentional eating is focusing your mind on the process of eating. The goal of yoga is focus your mind on your body and your breath as you are doing asanas (positions). Mindful eating focuses your mind on the taste of the food, and your perception of fullness.
There are so many subtleties you can focus on while practicing yoga: how is your body aligned, are your muscles tighter on one side or another, how far can you go into the position, etc… With mindful eating, I realized that I’m doing a kind of yoga.
How to Eat Mindfully
I had a friend who once commented that he never saw anyone take so long to eat a small piece of chocolate. And it’s true! When I was on a chronic diet in my past life, I didn’t want to waste eating anything that didn’t taste good. And since I wasn’t eating a lot of food, I wanted to make it last longer. So, when I was going to have that treat of chocolate, I made it last by breaking it into small pieces. I’d put in on the tip of my tongue and let it start melting. Then I’d move it around my mouth keeping my mind on where I was tasting it, the texture, what color it felt like, what aspects of the chocolate I loved the most. As you see, I could probably write a booklet on the taste of chocolate and why I love it so much. It was like doing mouth yoga and then stomach yoga when listening for signs that I had enough.
If the phone rang while I was eating chocolate, they could WAIT until I finished! And no, I was NOT going to rush! I love Trader Joe’s big bar of Belgium chocolate because it breaks into small squares. And I break those square into smaller pieces. And NO, it’s not because I’m dieting – because I will NEVER DIET AGAIN. It’s a waste of effort – and you are probably at a point in your life where you understand this, because you are reading on this site! All those years of restricting and starving ended up making me gain weight each time I was fooled into trying a new and better diet.
Your Brain Changes the Way You Perceive Taste
And by the way, did you know that as you are continuously eating a particular food, your brain actually makes it not taste as good as it was when you first started eating it? Think about this: if you are a coffee drinker, the first sip in the morning tastes the best, correct? And then as your drinking it, you get less of a delight as you get to the bottom of the cup.
Now, I am NOT telling you to eat less food or be on a diet. But what I’m trying to explain is this: enjoy what you eat. If you just stuff it into your mouth mindlessly, you’re not going to enjoy it that much, and more likely to OVER-eat because you’re not paying attention to your stomach’s feeling of satiation. The slower you eat, the more your stomach has a chance to tell you when to stop eating because you’ve had enough. And that way you don’t have to use some artificial one size fits all portion control size like those worthless diet plans use! Eat mindfully, eat intentionally what you like and what’s good for you, and until you’ve had enough.
But if you’re eating something you dislike just because you think it’s good for you, it’s probably NOT good for you! That’s what the famous Dr. Deepak Chopra says! Good food can turn toxic in your system when your mindset is saying “yuck!”
And you know, you can also transfer this mindful attitude to other things in your life. When you’re out on a walk, be there completely. Don’t talk on the phone – notice and appreciate the beauty of your environment. It’s a real stress reliever to live mindfully, in the moment. It actually makes life much more enjoyable, and stress free – which makes you happier and healthier!