Ayurveda

Conscious Eating

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Welcome to Conscious Eating. What follows will not be a new dietary ideology, super food, or miracle cleanse. Rather, we will explore a life long, lifestyle approach to food based on the Ayurvedic Paradigm of Health.

Before we dive into the main course, however, here’s a few observations on food and health throughout the ages. Even if you are unfamiliar with the quotes, you may recognize some the names:

"Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food."

Hippocrates

"The first wealth is health."

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Each patient carries his own doctor inside him."

Norman Cousins

"No disease that can be treated by diet should be treated with any other means."

Maimonides

“There is no magic bullet. You gotta eat healthy and live healthy to be healthy. End of story." Morgan Spurlock

“Eating comfort food isn't a reward — it's a punishment."

Drew Carey

The Principle of Conscious Eating is about far more than WHAT we eat. Ultimately, our goal is to choose foods that support and sustain life, longevity and good health. In addition, what we eat should prevent us from experiencing illnesses and alleviate their symptoms, should they occur.

Are your current habits around food, which include not only WHAT, but WHEN and HOW you eat, working well for you. Can you say, without hesitation, that the your food habits are leading to abundant physical mental and emotional health?”

The word Conscious comes from the Latin word, scīre, meaning, “to know” or “to understand,” Conscious eating requires observation and attentiveness. We take on the role of observers or Ayurvedic detectives. This means paying attention to what, how and when you eat as well as your digestive experience.

According to Ayurveda, it’s not a question of whether any particular food is ‘good’ or ‘bad’. Rather, you learn to observe how YOUR body process what you eat. The answer falls, roughly, into two categories, positive and negative digestive experiences. During and after a positive digestive experience, you feel satisfied, grateful and full of energy. The negative kind leads to what is technically referred to as ‘unhappy tummy’. Here, you may experience any or all of the following: bloating, gas, burning feeling, belching, lethargy and sleepiness.

Pretty big difference, huh?

Ayurveda sees the digestive tract as the “Master system” of the body. Food builds the physical body, mind and emotions. Just as every person is unique, all foods are not the same. Thus, generic diets, food plans, or cleanses WILL NEVER work for everyone. At best, these can only be effective for SOME of the people SOME of the time. This brings us to a simple truth, the definition of Conscious Eating: Continually Creating and Refining a Sustainable Eating Plan that Works for YOU.

This is a rich and, at times, complex practice. However, I will attempt to provide some basic Ayurvedic Principles and Guidelines in this article and the series of articles to follow. Are you ready?

THE BIG PICTURE

Conscious Eating, ultimately, is about our relationship with ourselves, our diet, and our environment. This includes: where we get our food, how it’s grown, the manner in which it is prepared, the amount and timing of our meals, the people with whom we eat as well as our own behavioral and emotional patterns, that is, our beliefs and feelings about ourselves and whatever we eat.

To eat consciously, we need to work from the inside out. We begin by going beneath our habitual relationship with food and getting to know the energetics of food and digestion.
It is our own digestive experience that determines whether what we eat is supporting our body’s metabolic processes or disrupting them. We have both the power and responsibility to create wellness and vitality. First, we must learn to read the subtle signs our body sends us. This includes our emotional states, as our diet directly affects our mood.

Conscious eating is when the individuals intake of food is supportive to health, vitality and wellbeing. My goal is that this becomes a lifestyle, a sustainable way of eating and living. Its our day to day habits over a long period of time that becomes our normal. If our habits are conscious, and moderate most of the time, then we steer ourselves on the path of health, because we take responsibility for our actions. With personal responsibility comes empowerment, which in turn leads to better understanding and choices. Its an upward spiral.

The Principals

1. Your health is your most valuable currency
Your body mind is your most valuable asset. If your are healthy and happy, then you can pursue your life’s purpose. However, if you are tired, low energy or frequently sick, then most of your time is focused on thinking, identifying with and the treatment of your particular malady. Your good health is your most valuable currency, everything starts with you!!!! Seems to me that investing in my health is the highest priority. Physical health is dependent on what you eat. Start by investing your time and attention on the foods that make your body come alive with vibrancy. Conscious eating is one of the three pillars that support health, the other two being sleep and energy.

2. Your Body/mind has to digest everything that comes in

Every day you consume food and drink in response to hunger and other external cues with little thought to how, your body converts it. When your metabolic process is working efficiently, your body should utilize 70-80% of all food eaten. However, when digestion is insufficient, the body is not able to break down or use the food properly. Faulty digestion is the beginnings of your body’s dis-ease.

Conscious eating is designed to educate and help you make connections with your digestive process.

3. Take responsibility for your consumption of food. This means the types and amounts of food consumed and the timing of meals. Im sure you have noticed from observing your family and friends that we all have different relationships and need of food. How much or little we eat, the frequency of meals, the types of foods etc. An important key too good health is to eat the appropriate amount and types of foods that maintain great health for you. Your body uses everything you put into it. Over time symptoms such as fatigue, lethargy and sluggishness become the norm and the immune system suffers.

4. The Burp is a practical exercise to rediscover your individual digestive capacity. Ayurvedic medicine states, that we should eat until we are not hungry. This is very different to eating until you are full.
“The stomach should be 1/2 filled by solid foods,

1/4 by water and 1/4 should be kept free for the movement of air”
The stomach naturally gives a burp when its three quarters 3/4 full.
Many of us have trained our stomachs to stretch by overeating or eating too frequently and this natural capacity has been overridden.

5. Eat real food
My greatest contribution to my health is that I love to prepare and cook my food.
I enjoy going to the farmers markets, searching for recipes and creating great food made with love.....nothing better. Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine said
‘the forces within us are the true healers and food is the true medicine’
Eat a varied diet and buy the highest quality food you can. Mix it up and try a few vegetarian meals every week. Minimize meat and fish consumption. Try not to eat anything that comes in a box. Avoid or reduce all processed food, white sugar and trans fats. Instead create a diet based on plants, whole grains, beans, nuts, seeds and fruits. Get to know the foods that grow in your area and whats in season. When you eat seasonal, fresh, locally grown food, you deepen your connection with nature and your environment. As a result your body becomes revitalized.

6. Use spices to enhance digestive and metabolic capacity
Ayurveda recognizes that the foundation of good health rests on a healthy functioning digestive tract. Herbs and spices are used to enhance and support correct functioning of digestion and metabolism. Here we are using spices as medicine to correct, improve and regulate digestive fire. Spices can be used either before a meal to ignite the fire and increase digestion or after to facilitate the processing or metabolism of food.

In the next article I will discuss the burp and the three types of metabolic processes.

It's All About Perspective

Ayurveda makes a bold statement…“ You, the individual, have to digest everything that comes in”.

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Our bodies are amazing. Think about it for a minute, Your digestive tract has the ability to break down that veggie burger, salad, chocolate, xmas cookie or whatever food you ingest into a liquid to feed your body. Our diet builds the physical body, mind, emotions and spirit.  All aspects of human functioning are intelligent, in constant communication and operates much like a vast network. 

Your mind also has to digest everything that comes in through your senses. They are the portals or entry points through which we take in experiences. The mind downloads all sensory input. It then assigns it meaning, reference and emotions based on your family, friends and societal conditioning.

In a way, what we let in determines our view of reality.  What are you letting in?  How are you building your picture of the world?   Who is in charge of your attention? Do you control where you put your attention or are you at the beck and call of social media? Is your world view determined by outside forces? Oh, and what about your emotional state? Are you happy, optimistic, mentally flexible? What are your relationships like? Are you able to have conversations, or do you have a fixed, rigid perspective?

Time to take responsibility for your life and outlook. The goal of Yoga and Ayurveda is to create a healthy vibrant focused mind and body. Great emphasis is placed on the individuals power to choose what we let in. 
Our choice of where we put our attention, shapes our mental and emotional health. Positive input creates a happier mind. 

The word responsibility contains the word “respond” when we respond in the same way to a situation, we will get the same results.  But, when we take a different approach, then we create something new. Our mind becomes more adaptable and plastic…we create new things and in the course of taking new action we become empowered.  

The goal becomes one of moderating what you let in and what you keep out. Corporations, governments and some bloggers, make lots of money by pushing an agenda that shapes your view of the world. When our attention is outwardly focused, external events create our reality. We look to the outside world to determine if we are thin enough, rich enough, young enough and so on…However, when we learn to turn attention inwards and focus the mind, we become creators.

Bottom line you need a little bit of both, attention in and out. The path of Yoga and Ayurveda is one of moderation, enquiry and a cultivation of positive emotions…As the old saying goes. “a life unexamined is a life not lived” or something like that. 

So what do you do? Here are three things that work for me:

1. Start your day with a nurturing practice. Do something for you.
My morning rituals include, sitting in my garden, drinking my morning cup of coffee, whilst mentally giving thanks for the blessings in my life. I meditate for 30 minutes and then take Ruby my pooch on her morning walk. Then I’m ready to enter the world by reading emails and social media. I have found that limiting myself to 20 minutes of news per day works for me.  How you start your day determines your outlook for the rest of the day…what can you do that makes you feel great?
Pick one thing and practice it regularly for 30 days. 

2.  Surround yourself with positive happy people
Happiness is infectious. People who exude the traits you love, rub off on you. I have the good fortune of sharing my life for 13 years with my husband, Robert, who has a light and happy heart. Thankfully it has rubbed off on me!!!! Cultivating a happy optimistic perspective, means that I always expect things to turn out well.  It’s a practice that I cherish. 

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3. Count your blessings and bring meaning into your life “Every cloud has a silver lining”…yeah but when I’m in the thick of my stuff, I just can’t see it.

Everything I have read, and immerse myself in, suggests that happy positive people lead healthy, creative, abundant lives. This is my life’s journey. Every day, I give thanks for all the wonderful things that I have in my life. I go through a mental list and have consciously cultivated a happy, optimistic outlook on life. The current science and thinking states that we are both the observers and creators of our world………ready!!!!!!


in gratitude
Eleni
If you want to learn more please visit our website www.bellymindinstitute.com  for upcoming Ayurveda workshops and trainings.

Books that inspire me:
Dr. Joe Dispenza
Breaking the habit of being yourself OR
You are the placebo 

Pam Grout
E2
E3
Thank and Grow Rich
Living Big

The Medicine Chest

The Medicine Chest

The goal of the medicine chest is to introduce you to the wonderful world of herbs and their many uses. Herbs have traditionally been used as foods, supplements and to cure ailments. Their use can help support your health from a very basic level, just as foods do. In the late 1800s and early 1900s, you could walk into a drug store in the United States and find hundreds of herbal extracts for sale. Upwards of 90 percent of the population at that time knew how to use the medicinal plants growing in their backyards to treat common illnesses and injuries.

Ayurvedic Travel Tips 101

Ayurvedic Travel Tips 101

It's summer and most of us will take a trip. Travel whilst exciting, with its new places, people and things can be destabilizing and increase our Vata (the force of movement).

Go Have fun, but create some daily rituals that will give you stability and routine.

My travel tips:

1.Before you drive or fly indulge in a long oil massage or Abhyanga and let it soak in for at least 20-30 minutes.

2. Make sure to lubricate all openings in body, think, ears, nose, lips, belly button, and top of head. Oil is heavy and moist. It pacifies the nervous system and guards against the dryness of air travel.

3. Make sure to take a two-ounce bottle of oil on your carryon. Once the plane has taken off, oil your feet and wear socks. During a long flight reapply oil to face, ears, nose, top of head and feet

4. Your thermos (a girl’s best friend).  I usually bring some fresh shredded ginger in a plastic bag. Place the ginger in the thermos, give to the flight attendant to fill with hot water and sip throughout the flight. Ginger tea is warming and improves peripheral circulation.

5. Sleep: I use ‘Sleep Easy’ from Banyan Botanicals. I find 4-6 pills gives me 6 hours of deep sleep.

6. Drink plenty of water and stay hydrated. 

7. Try to take only warm food. 

8. Make sure you stretch. I go to the back of the plane and do my stretches a couple of times during a trip.

9. When you arrive at your destination, stick to the local time. In the evening before bed, do a long abhyanga and take 1 tsp triphala with warm water. The abhyanga will ground you and the triphala will ensure regular bowel movements.

Enjoy your travels! Love, Eleni

Turmeric Root

Turmeric Root

Turmeric is a member of the ginger family. This is one of my top 5 herbs that I use daily and prescribe widely to my students.

Every person should consume this herb as a food and supplement daily. It has so many wonderful benefits. Current studies have confirmed its cancer reducing, anti inflammatory effects, along with its use in thetreatment of benign tumors.

The Right Foods for You: An Ayurvedic Perspective

The Right Foods for You: An Ayurvedic Perspective

Ayurveda recognizes that a vast majority of diseases are caused and/or exacerbated by improper digestion and metabolism.  Despite the fact that food is life-sustaining, many of us see cooking and eating as a chore. We choose dining out over lovingly preparing nutritious meals at home. Our understanding and relationship with food has been reduced to comfort, calories, and convenience. 

The Three Humors or Life Forces Vata, Pitta, and Kapha

The Three Humors or Life Forces Vata, Pitta, and Kapha

Ayurveda is a complete system of wellness, based in the natural world.

The Ayurvedic view of the world and the human system is richly metaphorical and scientifically precise.

 

Ayurveda views all matter as composed of five basic states, often called elements. These are the building blocks of everything that exists, including ourselves.  Previously, in the article What is Ayurveda, I laid out the cosmology upon which Ayurveda is based. In short, this ontology views the material world as a duality comprised of both spirit and matter. The body, mind and emotions are seen as part of the material world, constantly changing and subject to different rates of change.

What is Ayurveda?

What is Ayurveda?

Ayurveda, (Eye-Your-Veda), Yoga’s sister science is a 5000-year-old holistic health system based in nature. Its primary tools are food, herbs, oils, cleansing, lifestyle, and education, each adapted to an individual’s unique constitution or body type.  Ayurveda is classified as a ‘complementary health approach’ by the National Center for Complementary & Integrative Health (NCCIH).