So Many Tips for Dealing with Body Image Angst Over the Holidays! I can’t even count the tips.

So Many Tips for Dealing with Body Image Angst Over the Holidays! I can’t even count the tips.

A meal that was not fraught. What a delight. But YEAH, that’s a lot of prawn.

There are a few times of the year when our body image anxieties reach a high pitch, and the holidays is one of them.

Why? A few weighty reasons.

  1. You’re gonna see people you haven’t seen in a while, and they are gonna see you. People may have changed! (Gasp!) How will everyone react?!
  2. Food, food, so much food. And, booze. And dessert. So much: TOO MUCH!
  3. Gossip. People talking about how other people look, behind their backs, usually not in a very nice way.

Let’s take a look at each of these in succession.

How we look. It’s beyond natural to want to really make a good impression on friends and family that you’ve not seen in a long time. Perhaps you’ve gained some weight (not that I personally think that it a problem, but other people seem to still think it is). Perhaps you’ve been sick, and it shows (again–cause for compassion, not for judgement). You know you’re not at your physical best. And you worry, because, not only does that dent your self esteem when you’re already feeling down, but now on top of that, you’ve forced into a situation where you’re worried about what other people will think, and what they will say–to your face–and what they will say behind your back. It sucks.

Here are some suggestions.

IN PREPARATION:

Black gloves and an updo. Oh, yes. Go to great lengths if you must. Lessons learned from Lady Gaga.
  • Dress your best. Take the time to find something to wear that you feel really good about, shopping, borrowing. Make it fun. In-character. Fashionable. Get a sympathetic friend to help you out, if you HATE figuring out what to wear alone. Be relentless in your determination to make the holidays feel good to you, so you emerge victorious, at least knowing that you took the best care of yourself.
  • Wear a smile. You ALWAYS are well-dressed when you do.
  • Rehearse gracious, de-escalating responses to incendiary remarks, like the following:
    • “It looks like you’ve gained weight!” Haha! Maybe!–My body does what it does. By the way: You look wonderful! I love you so much, and I’m so happy to see you. What is something really terrific that has happened to you recently? 
    • “You look so great! Have you lost weight?” I’m not sure! I don’t weigh myself. I really try to not get caught up in that: it makes me crazy and ends up taking up so much of my mental space, space that I want to spend thinking about truly important things. Speaking of really important things, how is your (fill in the blank, choose something you know is really important to that person in their life) going? 

 

AT THE EVENT:

  • Take deep breaths, and feel free to spend some time alone in the bathroom to regroup.
  • Bring your compassion for yourself along. If someone says something less than kind, breathe, smile, say something that shows your own self-compassion, and encourages that in them, even complimenting them as a retort. Use your rehearsed responses. Trust yourself to be your own advocate, and to do so in a way that is gracious, and instructive, even if the people you are talking to don’t or can’t understand.
I wish all bathrooms had such helpful reminders. This is a message in the bathroom at the Blue Hills Monastery in Upstate New York.

How other people look. Basic rule: it is none of your business. If you don’t have something kind or gracious to say, then you best not say it! There is no real reason to comment on another’s appearance. You can focus on their person. After all, the body is just an aspect of the person. Say something honest, about them. Say: I love you, and I’m so happy to see you! Or if that isn’t honest: It’s been so long! We have so much to catch up on. Tell me, what has been the highlight of the last year for you? 

FOOD, FOOD, FOOD. SO MUCH FOOD! 

If part of your body image anxieties revolve around food (how could they not??!) make an honest assessment of where you are with this issue, and then make a plan.

THE PLAN. Here’s my general plan. It might not work for you, we are different people with different histories and growth trajectories, but I offer mine as a sort of guidepost. Eat “normally.” Meaning: don’t NOT eat because there’s going to me SO MUCH FOOD at dinner. No, no. That suggests a restrict/binge cycle. Have breakfast. Have lunch. Then: eat “normal” portions at dinner. Not bird portions. Not THREE helpings. Like, one plate. There will be leftovers. Plan on enjoying those in the days ahead. Or not. There will be another scrumptious meal in your near future.

THE ENERGETICS. Here’s something interesting I learned from my yoga teacher, Ana Forrest. Our energetic anatomy and our physical anatomy overlap. So, if the part of you that is busy taking in conversation, or energy from another person, the corresponding physical apparatus will be partially or fully offline. At these parties, there are often many people, and the energetic input is like a flood. Because of that, it makes it even harder for us to connect to the feelings of our actual stomach. When I can’t detect my stomach, I make the decision not to eat too much, because I can’t feel what’s happening. This is the ONLY reason I will personally accept for not eating much at such events. Often people bombard their stomachs with too much food, in order to ground, or in order to get pulled back into the reality of the situation, or to try to feel something. Pay close attention. Take a break, in the bathroom to regroup, if you loose the capability to pay attention.

THE SOCIAL ANXIETY. Recently, I’ve noticed that I eat too fast when I’m experiencing an energetic situation that I feel uncomfortable with. It’s like, somewhere deep inside I’m thinking “when the meal is over, I can leave!” because that’s the way it worked as a kid. When the plate was clean, then I might be excused from the table. I don’t like the conversation: I eat fast. I’m tired: I eat fast. I JUST WANT TO GET AWAY! GAH! Oh, my. This is very disconnected patterning.

This past Thanksgiving I commented on the “speed eating” phenomenon to my cousin, and she laughed saying at a friend’s dinner, they clocked it at fifteen minutes. FIFTEEN MINUTES! Ya spent all day cooking, and sit down to eat for FIFTEEN MINUTES?! Did anyone even CHEW?!

Tips to slow down:

  • Take one bite.
  • Put down your cutlery.
  • Chew.
  • Taste.
  • Swallow.
  • Taste.
  • Breathe.
  • Taste your food.
  • Consider how fast you want to take the next bite. Or if you even want to. Sometimes the food is not as tasty as you anticipated. You don’t have to finish it if you’re not actually enjoying it! But, if you’re not paying attention, you won’t actually KNOW if you’re enjoying it or not…
  • How much of your attention is on enjoying your food? How much of it is one the conversation? Can you pay attention to both? I have a hard time with that, actually…

Recognizing your anxieties and handling them head-on is an advanced, ADULT skill. Mostly we’ve been taught to ignore/deflect/numb, and at the holidays, we are confronted uncomfortably with so many of our boogeymen. Uncomfortable, fraught relationships with people who are unkind or judgmental. Our own unkind thoughts about other people. People’s assessments of us, and ours of them. Good grief. Of course I just want to eat fast and go home! It’s fucking exhausting! Adulting is hard. But, we can do it!

Before I got better at really noticing that large groups of people–not even necessarily family, just PEOPLE!–make me uncomfortable, I would just position myself by the cheese plate, and eat the whole thing. The only people I ended up talking to were other people who loved cheese. So, they were already pre-approved. Haha.

Before I got good at noticing that I was eating away my loneliness and my desire for other, safe, human contact, I would eat entire cheesecakes in solitude, by myself. So huge was my appetite and its need to be filled. The problem seemed so intractable, it was easier just to solve with food. At least cheesecake is reliable. And safe.

The trouble with holidays, is the seem to be referendums on our entire life for the past year. And, often, when we’re not working on ourselves, they catch us by surprise. Even if we ARE working on ourselves, and somehow feel like we’ve fallen short of our goals (always a setup for disappointment…try “setting intents” instead), they will catch us by surprise as we administer a hearty dose of flagellation.

The holidays don’t have to be a referendum. It’s just a yearly blip on the calendar. We can choose to cruise through them as such.

Or–and I’m not necessarily advocating this approach–you can use them as a yearly check-in on how you’re growing, changing, becoming more resilient. I started to know that I was getting better at it all when I could sit quietly with a glass of water and talk to people and “sort of” enjoy myself. No more cheese plate stakeouts. Huzzah!

But that progress relied on a steady, year-in-year-out self-study and examination using the tools of yoga and therapy. If you don’t have some tools, or support in place, the holidays will surely be as painful as they were last year. I think that’s a shame, and wouldn’t want that for you!

Which is why I put together a worksheet for you, to help you get started making a better relationship with your body. I call it The 5 Adoring Core Competencies. CLICK HERE to get your free copy! 

NEXT POINT.

The Gossip. UGH. We’ve all experienced it. You go into the kitchen, innocently looking for a glass of water, and there are your (fill in the blank relatives) talking about another relative. WHAT A DRAG.

“Did you see what she was wearing…?”

“Did you see how much she ate…?”

Sometimes, sometimes, people are talking about another out of true concern. But–does the talk really help them? Probably not.

A gentle reminder, again from the Blue Hills Monastery bathroom. I’m gonna start putting things like this in bathrooms. Positive vandalism! One of my favorite passtimes…

When I hear these sorts of conversations, or am involved personally in these conversations, what I’m feeling for is the place of HELP for the person. If it isn’t there, then I start to wonder what purpose this conversation is actually serving. Is it making the participants feel better about themselves by comparison? Is it creating a point of bonding for the people in the conversation, like they have something to concern themselves about together? Both of these are not good reasons to gossip, but they also show a deficit in social skills, specifically how to connect without doing it on the back of, or at the expense of others. This moment can be a teaching opportunity. A chance to elevate the awareness and basic decency in the world.

If the people try to drag me into the conversation, the only way I will get involved is if they can answer these questions: Is our conversation actually helping the situation? Does the person in question desire help in this regard? If the answer is NO to both, then the conversation is a waste of time, and I would say as much. 

Gossip does nothing but harm. 

HERE ARE SOME BASIC TIPS:

  • Pull your energy back into the present moment, with the people present
  • Insist on talking about only the people present in the room: their lives, their concerns 
  • If you are talking about another person, make sure it is used to help you have insights into your own life and experiences
  • Make it part of your ethics to only speak well of people when they are not around, particularly if they have done nothing to harm you personally
  • Combat gossip by countering with kind, generous, compassionate statements. Insist that you do not know they entire story as to why a person speaks or behaves the way they do. Never rob another person of their autonomy. Make space for them to speak for themselves.

OK. Good luck, soldiers of love! Go forth, and spread good cheer! And, remember, it’s O.K. to make holidays that YOU love, and feel good about. You don’t have to spend them with people who make you uncomfortable about yourself. In fact, that might be the healthiest thing you could choose for yourself, and your sweet, tender body.

Love to you!

Erica

 

Adore Your Body Reboot

Erica MatherThe first Adore Your Body Telesummit was, in my opinion, a tremendous success.

What does that–success–mean?

Read some of these comments and see if you can feel what I mean.

“Regardless of size, people all face the same root problems as others. How concept of ourselves can warped early on, but we have a chance to reshape our view of ourselves .”

“Didn’t realize how powerful activism of fat women is today—gorgeous!”

“I loved everything! I think it was Amy Bloom who said that women have so much more to offer than just their looks. That definitely made me realize that I’ve been relying on looking physically “perfect” to make up for what I believe to be deficiencies in my personality.”

“You can be confident and beautiful in a body of any size. you don’t have to wait to be thinner to live a full wonderful life.”

“I think my biggest a-ha was that people who hate fat people or treat fat people horribly are bigots! I don’t know why that struck me so hard but it was something that I never realized before!”

“This is ubiquitous across all races, sexes and genders. Nobody is immune to these destructive feelings.”

“Hearing that these bendy supple young and beautiful women, who I look up to, are just as fucked up about their body image as I am… I am not alone in my suffering from chronic dieting and body shame.”

“So many other women suffer from the same things I do and even though some have gone farther in their journey’s, they still have bad days. And it’s okay!”

“I loved HeatherAsh’s interview. The short term versus long term nourishment really hit home for me. I have been thinking about that everyday and noticing more or what I do can be short term nourishment.”

“I realized that no matter someone’s shape, size, or status, us women always find a way to dedicate an extraordinary amount of time obsessing over bodies and too less time focusing on meaningful work that can advance our gender forward. This obsession is our ball and chain.”

“Your summit served as a great introduction to a different way of thinking and approaching healthy eating and exercise. I didn’t even realize how stuck in diet mentality I was (and still am). I am heartened by this introduction to such a community of honest, beautiful (inside and out), outspoken women. I am inspired. In my challenging moments I have been looking back to the notes I took to give my self renewed focus , strength, and comfort. Thank you!”

I’m rebooting this event because, in case you missed it, I want you to have your own revelations and epiphanies from listening to the 11 luminous speakers.

Some of the feedback I got that I intend to work with as I look to the 2016 Adore a Your Body Telesummit is a desire for more voices from the margins. I wanted this too, when I programmed the 2015 event, but had not yet made the connections I needed. I think that you’ll be pleased with the roster I’m putting together for this Spring.

Until then, every last interview is worth the 20-40 minutes of your life. These ladies are funny and thoughtful, with wisdom to share and from which you will grow. To hear their interviews, sign up here.

Top 10 Ways to Pacify Your Junk Food Monster

Cookie Monster Junk food… What does that mean? In my book, junk food is high calorie, low nutritional content, manufactured and packaged food. Doritos, Pringles, and Reece’s Peanut Butter fall into this category, for instance.

These kinds of foods play on our biological impulses to eat things that are sweet, salty, and fatty.

They are all difficult to come by in the wild and are all flavor-indicators of a necessary nutritional component, meaning these flavors are signs that nutrition that we NEED is present.

Maybe with the exception of sweet, but salts contain electrolytes and fats are absolutely essential for all kinds of metabolic and hormonal functions as well as structural maintenance.

Manufacturers actually engineer junk foods to be as addictive as possible, finding the combination of salt, sweet and fat that will be the most irresistible. Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us documents the deliberate history of this in the United States.

Within the past ten years, “healthy” junk food has appeared on the scene. Newman-O’s, Justin’s Peanut Butter Cups, and Pirate’s Booty are a few examples that come to mind.

Is this still “junk food?” I think so, yes, because, while made with better ingredients, and often are less salt and sugar, they still are pretty devoid of nutritional content.

Here are some guidelines and tips to help you cut down on your junk food consumption.

10 Ways To Deal With Junk Food Temptation

1. Consider why you like to eat these foods. Are they filling the space of something else in your life? Sweetness of a different variety?  Excitement? Purpose? Connection? Comfort? Pay attention to your emotions when you’re “indulging.”

2. Make sure you’ve eaten a decent meal before you reach for the junk. Nuff said.

3. Learn how to make your own. Like peanut butter cups?  Make them. This will slow down the “immediacy” of the food experience.

4. If you MUST have some junk food now, make it the best possible rendition. Like chocolate? Get the highest quality chocolate you possibly can.Love ice cream? Get the organic milk variety. Potato chips are your thing? Go gourmet.

5. Are you craving a particular flavor? Study this. Sometimes this can be a sign that you are deficient in nutrients. Want something salty? This could be a sign that you’re low in vitamins and minerals. Crave sugar? Your body may not be getting the energy that it needs in the form of solid nutrition.Long for fat?  Fat helps metabolize certain vitamins, and keeps your digestive system “moving.”

6. This is radical advice, but sometimes works—allow yourself to binge. I’ve done it myself with peanut butter. It worked. I read about this technique after-the-fact in one of Geneen Roth’s books. Eat all the fill-in-the-blank that you desire until you’ve had your fill. Indulge!  Ride it out, until you get sick of that food. Maybe literally. Definitely figuratively.

7. Slow down. Breathe while you eat. Chew thoroughly. Find out if you can really, really taste what you’re eating. Does it taste as good as you thought it would?

8. I’m what I call a “curious eater.”  I like to find out what things taste like—even junk!  This doesn’t mean I want to eat a whole portion. If you want to just have a taste, then do that. Give the rest away, or share with a friend.

9. Eat sitting down, at a table—no snacking while walking or driving!  No snacking while sitting in front of the T.V. or at the movie theatre. Be aware and present for every food experience.

10. Notice if you tend to eat junk alone. If you do, pledge to share your “guilty pleasure” with another. You may find that other people will not support your “habit!”

What are your biggest junk food temptations? Which of these tips and guidelines do you plan to try out first? Share in the comments below!

A version of this post originally appeared on Live Well 360.

Should I Eat if I’m not HUNGRY?

hungry-caterpillar1There’s a philosophy that circulates: eat only when you’re hungry. But many things can affect your ability to experience hunger. By this I mean, you might be hungry and just have lost the ability to feel it.

Tinkering with your diet, fasting, stress, yoga, alcohol, cigarettes, extreme emotional expenditure are all thing pressures that can reduce or even numb a persons’ ability to experience hunger.

And so, I believe that under certain circumstances, “eat only when you’re hungry” in NOT good advice.

Sometimes I don’t experience hunger for days and days—and this is not because I eat a lot! Sometimes, in fact, I eat very little, and still don’t feel hunger. But, if I just didn’t eat, that would really wreck my metabolism.

So the wisdom here is to be sensible, feel in for what experiences are affecting your sensation of hunger, and to eat more or less regularly, in moderated amounts.

If you need more guidance, here are some questions and my answer as to “should I eat if I’m not hungry?” Take a look: there are some nuances.

  • I haven’t eaten in DAYS. But, I’m still not hungry! > PLEASE EAT! Start with some soup, like miso, or chicken broth.
  • I’ve been eating ALL DAY, and I’m not hungry. > Please, stop eating. At least until tomorrow. Why have you been eating all day?
  • I’ve been drinking, and it dulls my appetite. I’m not hungry! > Have a light snack of protein and fat. Pay careful attention not to overeat, since you’re buzzed. It’s easy to do.
  • I haven’t eaten since yesterday, and I’m waiting to get hungry. > Eat something light to keep your blood sugar up.
  • I’m constipated, and have been for 3 days! I’m really not hungry. > It’s time to take action. Don’t pack more food into your guts. Move to a liquid diet, starting with a green juice. If you’re bowels don’t start to move in a day, give yourself a coffee enema. This should jump start things. Once your digestion comes online again, eat lightly—veggies and brown rice is a good place to start. Work to find out what caused you to get backed up in the first place.
  • I’ve been drinking coffee all morning and I’m not really hungry. > Actually, you are. You’ve just suppressed the sensation. Please eat something grounding, like a baked sweet potato.
  • I’ve been teaching a yoga teacher training, and I’m never hungry! > You must eat. Eat things that are easy to digest, and not too much of it. Cooked vegetables with some olive oil will help, or some hot soup with oil drizzled in.
  • Everyone says I ought to eat breakfast, but I’m never hungry in the morning. >  I’m not an evangelist for breakfast.   I’ve heard of research that says those who don’t eat it live longer. But, if lunch is way in the distance and you’ll go for many hours without eating, and then find yourself to be very hungry, think of breakfast like a morning snack. Have a handful of nuts, a green juice, one egg.

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4 Signs You’re Getting Over Emotional Eating

ID-10072652I’m not exactly sure when I began using food and eating as a way to take the edge off my anxieties about life. The depths of my memories offer up, “adolescence?” Sure. I’ll take that.

Yoga gave me the tools of what I call “emotional rehabilitation.” Emotional rehabilitation helps a person to learn to feel again. Instead of using whatever method we have of numbing out emotionally (in my case, food), we use the skills learned at yoga to feel the emotions, and to handle them. Instead of shutting as much out as possible, we open the window of tolerance, and learn to sit in it.

Yoga–combined with years of therapy–helped to unravel the knots inside of me that lead me to eat instead of feeling.

Now, standing on the far edge of a long journey that is by no means over, these are the things that I’ve noticed about my own feelings and behaviors. They might be guideposts to you as well.

  1. Once upon a time, eating was my answer to all difficult sensations. Even the need to sleep or rest, I mistook for the need to eat. Now, I’m able to sort out these different sensations. Tired emotionally? Get some alone time. Tired physically? Rest or sleep—don’t eat!
  1. I notice that sometimes when I feel inside and think about eating a food that used to make me happier, now I feel disappointed. This shows me that the incorrect connection between feelings and food has been (mostly) unhooked. Food can’t fix my emotions. Something else, out in the world will need to change to help fix my emotions.
  1. Snacking is no longer a satisfying way to evade nourishing eating or feeling. Now I know when I start to fall into a spiral of snacking, to check inside and find out a) do I need a real, full-on, sit-down meal or b) is something upsetting me.
  1. At parties, instead of hanging out by the chips and stuffing my face, I can face social anxiety head-on and do something about it.

It’s my personal opinion that we never actually completely “get over” these sorts of addictions. What we gain is actually much more useful than complete recovery: the skill of self-awareness. With this skill, you can handle just about any life challenge that comes your way.

Did you like this post? Please comment, and share! Join my mailing list to receive my special teleclass “The Secrets to Intuitive Eating.” 

Healthy Craving vs. Addiction Presentation

Often in my work with my life coaching, holistic health counseling, or body image clients, the question arises, “how can you tell a healthy craving apart from an addictive habit reappearing?”

 

This can be tricky, because your addictions can be so seductive as to entice you into thinking that you truly “need” them.

 

Yet, no one would deny a pregnant woman her cravings, and they present just as strongly as a “need.” 

 

So how can you tell a “real need” from a false one? 

 

I’ve considered the distinction between a “true need” and an addictive one in the past few weeks as I’ve been recovering from the stomach flu.

 

The past few weeks have been an interesting study in cravings, and has jogged my memory about similar experiences in the past. 

 

In the immediate aftermath of the recent flu, everything smelled gross, and the mere thought of some items made me feel nauseated. 

 

I recall an instance in my life where this has happened before.  In my early twenties, I was working a desk job, and fell ill, with the flu.  While I lay in bed, I didn’t consume much, and above all, I drank no coffee.  Prior to this, I had quite a coffee habit—four of five cups a day.

 

In the wake of that sickness, the thought of coffee nauseated me.  So, I switched to tea.  First black tea, and then later, green tea.  While I adore the aroma and flavor of coffee, now I can’t drink it, as it gives me heart palpitations. 

 

It occurred to me that the illness was a kind of cleanse.  My acupuncturist would agree, and from what I’ve gleaned, many illnesses can be viewed as a “healing event” of sorts.  That sickness in my twenties I recall at the “coffee purge.” 

 

With the recent illness, what I observed was an accompanying craving for foods that I’ve not wanted in years—mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese. 

 

There was a clear progression from one to the other.  First, about three days of desire for the potatoes.  Then, a break.  Then, emerged the desire for macaroni and cheese.  As a gluten-free eater, this posed a problem.  Thankfully, Annie’s makes a decent rendition with rice noodles.

 

For three days straight, I followed the craving, and ate a box of mac & cheese.  On the third day, it tasted too salty, and no longer entirely hit the spot. 

 

Many people would probably identify these cravings as “bad.”  Both of these foods fall in the “carb” category, and even in the “junk food” category. 

 

This illness was the opposite of the “coffee purge.” 

 

Instead of removing foods from my palate, it introduced them back in.

 

And, they are not foods that I ordinarily consider “healthy.”

 

As I indulged my body’s desire for another day of packaged, processed mac & cheese, I considered if I was truly experiencing a nutritional need, or if some addiction took the opportunity to show itself again. 

 

If you examine closely the sentence above, it reveals part of the key to understanding healthy craving versus addiction. 

 

The key lies in the distinction between “me” and “my body” and creating a healthy relationship between those two things.

 

In the past, my “addictions” were primarily the product of my mind, which then hooked my body.

 

In the past, eating “junk food” was the result of feeling lonely, isolated, scared, unloved, unrecognized, angry, powerless. 

 

As I did the work to resolve those core issues, I was able to see that actually my body never “asked” for those junk foods in the first place.  My mind did. 

 

So the distinction between “healthy craving” and “unhealthy craving” has to do with where the craving is truly arising.  Is it in your body, or is it in your mind?

 

Let’s examine these two “purging” illness that I’ve told you about above, looking for traces of both kinds of cravings—of the body and the mind. 

 

In the instance of the coffee situation, I had been drinking coffee for so long, that my body was actually hooked on it.  There way truly no way that I would have known that it was something my body didn’t want, unless I tried not drinking it for a while.  And that thought would never have crossed my mind.  The sickness introduced a situation where I could remove the substance, and from there create a clean slate inside against which to test if coffee was really a substance my body likes. 

 

I started drinking coffee not out of a love for coffee—like many I began drinking coffee as a means to extend my productivity.  I drank it because my family members did.  And, I drank it, because it was a sign of maturity, or so I thought.  Never did my body “ask” for coffee, and I doubt that yours would either.  We just like caffeine.  This is a clear instance of “me” introducing a food to my body, and getting it addicted. 

 

Sugar is like this too.  It is a substance scarce in naturally occurring foods.  Fruit is sweet, and some vegetables are.  So are grains.  But white table sugar—that is an invention of modernity.  Sugar is highly addictive, and if you don’t agree, try taking it out of your diet entirely (that includes agave, honey, maple syrup, brown rice syrup, sucannat, and any other “alternative” sweetener you can think of) for an entire week, and see just how cranky your get. 

 

I found out about this when I did my 200-hour Yoga Teacher Training.  I all but eliminated sugar from my diet.  And when I cam back from the training and had a glass of lemonade, I just about passed out from the sugar high and the ensuing crash. 

 

In the end, the “coffee purge” was a little of both–I created a real addiction that was the product of my mind.

 

So check to see if your “craving” is the result of your mind desiring something to fill the uncomfortable spaces in your life, and if you’ve fed it something that now it is hooked on. 

 

If you check inside, and know that you are not really feeding your mind with food, then you can examine what kind of craving your body is truly experiencing, and satisfy that craving at it’s core.  

 

Let’s look at the more recent example of the mashed potato and mac & cheese craving. 

 

When I mentioned the craving to a friend of mine, he told me that potatoes are very high in electrolytes, so much so that they actually conduct electricity.  In fact, you can light up a light bulb with a potato! 

 

Craving explained—stomach flu leaves a person dehydrated, and depleted from the electrolytes that help usher fluids across the cell membrane.  My potato craving was my body self-medicating with food.  Amazing! 

 

There are a few other reasons that your body might experience a craving. 

 

Seasonal:  Our bodies are set to function with the cycles of the natural world.  In the spring, we tend to desire detoxifying foods like leafy greens or citrus foods. In the summer, people crave cooling foods like fruit, raw foods and ice cream, and in the fall people crave grounding foods like squash, onions and nuts. During winter many crave hot and heat-producing foods like meats and cheeses.

 

Lack of Nutrients: When the body is nutrient deficient, it will try to make up for it as immediately as possible.  A lack of minerals leads to salt cravings.  Overall inadequate nutrition leads to cravings for instant energy in the form of sugar and caffeine. 

 

Yin/Yang Imbalance or Balance:  Certain foods have expansive qualities while others are contractive.  “Yin” refers to the expansive quality of a food—think how sugar makes you feel, or alcohol.  These are extreme examples.  Leafy greens are also an example of an expansive food, or a “yin” food.  “Yang” refers to the contractive quality of a food.  Consider how salt makes you feel, or meat. 

 

Sometimes eating one kind of food creates a cycle where a person only wants to eat those foods.  The body gets stuck in a feedback loops. 

 

Other times, the body naturally balances.  You eat some meat, and want some leafy vegetables to go along with it.  This is just one example. 

 

There are also other reasons why the mind might create cravings. 

 

Displaced Desire & Dissatisfaction: Being dissatisfied with a relationship or having an inappropriate exercise routine (too much, too little or the wrong type), being bored, stressed, or uninspired by a job, or lacking a spiritual practice may all cause emotional eating. Eating can be used as a substitute for entertainment or to fill any void in your life.

 

De-evolution. When our lives are going better than usual, sometimes a self-sabotage pattern emerges.  We crave foods that throw us off the good path, thus creating more cravings to balance ourselves. This often happens from low blood sugar and may result in strong mood swings.

 

Longing for the Past: We’ve all experienced this—it’s the desire for “comfort foods.”  One of my teachers calls it “Inside Coming Out”—the longing not only for your childhood foods, but also for your ancestral foods.  Any way you look at it, your relationship with the past is showing up in the present in the solid manifestation of food. 

 

When I examine my recent longing for mac and cheese, I can see realistically that it is my past coming out, and a longing for comfort.  The needs of my body (potatoes) gave way to the desires of my heart for care and comfort of my mother (mac & cheese).  Seeing that clearly for what it truly is will allow me to make better decisions about whether to indulge the craving or seek to resolve it in another way.

 

In summary, it is important to discern between a craving that is the product of your mind, and something that comes from your body. 

 

Once you’re clear on that, then you can make a better decision about how to handle it. 

 

Yoga & The Psychology of Eating

 

KALE SALAD.  Yum! I know I said in the video that I was not going to tell you what to eat…And you don’t have to eat this.  🙂  But, maybe you’ll like it!

Ingredients:  Bunch of Kale, Lemons, Parmesan Cheese, Salt, Pepper, Olive Oil.  Easy.

1.  Chop the kale.  I used Dragon Kale, or Lacinato Kale.  You could use other varieties too!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. Steam the kale.  You can use a double boiler, which I have here, or just put the kale in a pot with a little water in the bottom.  Steam for about 3-5 minutes, until the kale is bright green, and pretty easy to chew.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3.  While the kale is steaming, squeeze some lemon juice.  Use about three lemons per one head of kale.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. Season the steamed kale with plenty of olive oil (Pour that over first. The lemon juice will attach to it.), the lemon juice, and salt and pepper.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5.  Finally, toss the salad with some shredded parmesan cheese.  Enjoy!