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Food well eaten 🌱

Dear friend,

I hope you are well and healthy these days and that 2023 started smooth and pleasant.

I recently had some conversations regarding food and eating habits in relation to the practice of yoga. It made me reflect back to the changes that I made in the past ~15 years as part of my yoga path in terms of diet and lifestyle. I surely made some mistakes along the way in my attempts to better my wellbeing but I also managed to learn from them and gain some insights. 

I want to share with you some of my thoughts and insights, maybe it can be useful and maybe not. Please keep in mind that I am no expert on nutrition or psychology, and that for some of us the relationship with food can be complicated. My point of view is that of yoga which means that the intention behind all choices we make is to maximize our potential to live a happy and healthy life, full of joy, contentment, fulfilment, peace and wisdom. Also, there are no evident rights and wrongs when it comes to these matters, a helpful process of discovering what works for you should probably include some trial and error, lots of compassion, and constant recalibration.

1. When an impulse or urge to eat comes up, develop a habit of taking just a few seconds of observing this experience. Avoid going in any direction of self analysis, instead try and focus on sensations in the body, look for where and how it feels on the most simple physical level. Following this moment of mindfulness make a conscious decision to proceed in any direction, whatever decision you make at that point, whether acting on this urge or not, make sure you embrace that decision full heartedly and try to be content and joyful after making it.

2. Turn your eating process into an act of kindness towards yourself or others that you share food with. Start from the moment you go to buy groceries, continue when you prepare the food, eat it and also after eating, as well as while you was the dishes and clean up. You can do the same when going out to a restaurant. Eating is an act of nourishing the body and mind, of taking joy in smelling the food, delighting in taking bites, chewing them with pleasure, swallowing and feeling the food slowly digested, processed and assimilated in the body. Even burping can be a beautiful expression of food well eaten :)

3. Trial and error can be very useful, paying close attention to how you feel after you eat something, both right after as well as a few hours later, maybe even a day later. The body is sending us signals, staying receptive to them is really helpful in learning to know better our body's needs and sensitivities. Try to get insight into which food gives you energy, clarity, lightness and vitality and which doesn't. It could be that the changing seasons, external circumstances or stages in life play some role in that process as well so be mindful of that.

4. Mixing negative emotions or attitudes with food can be harmful. It would be great if you can somehow let go of guilt, shame, anger, resentment or anything like that before, during and after eating. These usually lead us to digest food poorly and are very likely to lead us to poor individual eating choices. Be mindful of these tendencies and try to observe them as sensations in your body rather than judge, criticize, evaluate or even analyze them intellectually. Treat them too with kindness and compassion.

5. Be grateful to the animal, the plant, the planet, the farmer, the rain, anything or anyone that participated in the process of bringing food to your plate. Take a short moment either before each meal or sometime during the day and remind yourself to be grateful for your food. You are participating in a glorious cycle of life where every living organism is dependent on others in order to live and prosper. Eventually we will all become food ourselves and the cycle will continue.

6. On a very practical level, try to chew the food well before you swallow it, and if possible avoid eating too fast.

7. Optional: Take a bit of time and think about the broad implications of your eating choices. It is unfortunate that we live in a world where food is a highly profitable commodity and there are many bad actors in that game who produce and spread food which is harmful to our health, to other beings and to the environment. The quality of intention behind the food we take can have a big role in how it affects our body, our mind, our spirit. It doesn't mean that you have to change what you eat dramatically or even at all, I would only recommend that you try and give these matters some space for reflection and consideration and then see where it takes you.

To summarize, try to minimize careless eating and maximize conscious eating. Whatever you choose to eat, whenever and however you eat it, it is all wonderful, particularly if done consciously, with love, and if possible with joy, appreciation and peace of mind. 

Guten Appetit, itadakimasu, afiyet olsun, buen provecho, smacznego, sahtein, mashikeh-mogo, bon appétit, chī hǎo, kalí óreksi, jó étvágyat, buon appetito, dobrou chut’, priyatnava appetita, smaklig måltid, nooshe jân, be'teavon!

Looking forward to sharing space, breath and yoga with you in February!

With love and gratitude



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