Thursday, January 6, 2011

6 Tips to Healing Bad Eating Habits

I wanted to continue the topic of eating since...well, it's a big part of all of our lives. I emphasized the importance of choice in the last blog post. Now that we've established that you have a lot of power in your use of choice when eating, let's talk about some simple techniques to break these old bad habits in a meaningful and manageable way.

Discovering What Makes You Feel Good
At the center of this, you want food that makes you feel good. Your body already knows what makes it feel good, so these techniques are taking you back to you. I am always interested in taking you back towards your experience and not getting caught up in someone else's ideology. For instance, becoming a vegetarian overnight may not be the right nutrition for you. You should always be testing your ideas against the experience of the ideas.

The six tips to tuning in to your body intelligence and healing your eating habits are simple for the most part. That's important. Too many times we get caught up in methodologies. Spirituality is simple. It's being present and in the moment. To that end, that's what I encourage you to cultivate with your food to find out what really works for you body.

Technique 1: Slow Down, Chew Your Food
We're eating so fast these days that we really barely even register the taste of our food before moving on to the next thing.
  • Slow down.
  • Focus on the texture.
  • Focus on the taste.
Give yourself enough time to enjoy your food. Your body is worth it, and it pays a price through heartburn and other digestive problems when we don't give ourselves enough time to eat. I am sure you've got plenty of good excuses around it, such as you don't have enough time to eat at work. But as I said, your body is paying the price. And you only get one body.

Technique 2: The Fifteen Minutes Later Test

So how are you feeling?
  • Tired?
  • Energized?
  • Depressed?
  • Sick/nauseous?
  • Hungry and unsatisfied?
There's nothing like eating a bag of chips and then still feeling hungry. That unsatiated feeling is a way your body tells you that it needs something different. If you feel really lethargic, you may have eaten too much or have eaten foods that are too heavy for your system.

There are a wide variety of feelings to explore in your body. You may enjoy a sense of freedom in trying out different things just to see how your body responds. In general, think of it in terms of questions like these?
  • What gives you energy?
  • What makes you happy?
  • What makes you depressed?
As you go, I encourage you to develop your own questions and to record your observations.

Technique 3: Fasting
Your body may be so out of alignment with its true needs that you'll need to clean it out before the first two techniques work well.  A fast is like rebooting the whole digestive system. After you do it, you may find that what tastes good is very, very different than what tasted good before. Before you do this, take a couple steps such as:
  • Consult a doctor first.
  • Research different fasts to find the right one for you.
  • Find a time in your life when you don't have to be very physically active.
The idea in fasting is NOT weight loss, and it certainly shouldn't be done while pregnant. The whole idea is to clear out old patterns. You may have a lot of issues surface in you that make you feel very emotional during a fast. This is part of the energetic clean out. As with everything, be kind with yourself. You don't have to jump into a total fast initially, you can ease into it by eating less each day, and you should definitely take it easy coming out of it.

I haven't done too many fasts, and mine are usually only 2 to 3 days. These help me to clean out toxins and reset my body. I like to have a little fruit in the mornings and maybe some yogurt with lots of water throughout the day. Some people get into longer fasts, and there really are many kinds. However, you should do research before starting one to find one right for you.

Technique 4: Retreating from Your Eating Habits
This will be the most involved tip I give. Sometimes, you have to spend considerable time away from your eating habits and the lifestyle that supports those habits before you can get a really clear perspective. This could invole taking a trip somewhere that puts you around very different foods and eating patterns. You might also go on a retreat where they serve a very different style of (healthy) food.

My trip to Northern California in August of 2007 put me in such a position for about a month. My eating was incredibly different because of my travels and the people that I was with. Subsequently, my whole body had greatly shifted by the end of the month, and a change in my normal diet became much more natural as my body intelligence had had a chance to reset the system.

Technique 5: Shifting Your Diet

My shifts have been gradual. So I encourage you to be gentle with yourself when possible. The body has been abused enough, and you don't have to completely change everything over night. So when you're approaching dietary change, I'd recommend that you:
  • Take your time. You don’t have to go cold turkey.
  • Research
  • Read healthy cookbooks for new recipes
  • Try new recipes from online sites.
  • Ask friends for recipes.
You can start by taking out alcohol from your life. This will be shocking enough and require an adjustment on many levels (especially because it's such a part of social life). But add something else in too. You want to feel like you're rewarding yourself. When you take alcohol out, you could start exploring other liquids like soy milk, almond milk, acai juice, and whatever else you want to try. Remember, it's not about feeling like you're being punished. It's about making it an exploration into being healthier and feeling better.

Technique 6: Trying on a New Food Methodology
It seems like there's been a burst of new ways to eat, and that gives you plenty of different choices. Some of the food methodologies I've heard about include:
  • Raw foods
  • Vegetarianism
  • Pescatarian
  • Veganism
I encourage you to use these methodologies as tools for inspiration to try out new ways of nourishing yourself. But don't marry them. I don't call them diets because you're not trying to lose weight, and the term "diet" is commonly confused with losing weight.

If you decide that you should be vegetarian, then this methodology quickly becomes an ideology. This is where, once again, the mind is trying to dictate to the body what it needs. Now, it's wrapped up your food in the packaging of "doing what's right" or some such thing. This probably won't work for you, and even if it does, the rigidity of this ideology is not what your body needs. Your body never needs ideas; it just needs food.

Fluctuations, Shifts, and Deepening Awareness
Bringing awareness to your food will likely fluctuate your body mass. It will vary, depending on what your true body is supposed to look like. Keep in mind that your body has no interest in conforming to arbitrary social and mental constructs of beauty and physical look. And really, bringing more awareness into your food and eating will bring more awareness into your body. This is true beauty manifesting. You'll start to feel better. You'll notice that you look better, although you probably won't look the way society has been telling you. Then again, most of us haven't looked the way society has been telling us all of our lives. It's better to lose that illusion, anyway. Because in the process, we become better nourished, happier, and much more beautiful along the way according the terms of ourselves and our bodies.

Surviving Scarcity: Healing the Pain of Lack
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