When I was in college my sophomore year, I made a new friend. Her name was Grace.
Yes, I see the irony.
Grace said to me, “I wish I would just eat when I was hungry, and stop eating when I was full.”
This idea fascinated me and boggled my mind.
I’d been dieting my entire life. I constantly tried to lose weight, to be smaller.
I hated this. I hated the restricting, the hunger, then losing control and overeating.
What if there is this other way?
I decided to do something drastic (as is my way). I decided to give up controlling what I ate.
I decided to eat in a completely different way.
The Yoga of Eating was born.
The Yoga of Eating saved my life.
I came up with three gate-keeping questions to ask my body before eating anything.
The Yoga of Eating got me sober around food. Like all addictions, my food-control issues were simply a symptom. I needed to reach the underlying problem and I couldn’t get there while I was “using.”
The Yoga of Eating is a meditation to heal our relationships with food.
Join me in this meditation by reflecting on your last meal. Do this to deepen your connection to yourself, and deepen your healing around eating and food.
Ask your body:
#1 Is it good?
Is this food something that my body wants? That I want to put into my body? Is it good food?
Just like we upgrade our dog’s food when we find out that it’s mostly corn by-product, we reflect on the quality of the food we’re eating, too.
But this questions not only the quality of the food, but how I obtained it (was I stressed? Was I even present?) and where the food comes from. Does every step in this process feel good to my body?
If I hate the grocery store that I go to, and feel angry purchasing it, is the food there really something I want to put into my body? If I don’t respect that juice company, is their product really something that I want to put into my body? This is hard to do. Trust me – I know. I still revisit this. I edited out a place I used to go for smoothies just yesterday because I can do better than that.
(If you’re familiar with the abundance scale, this is similar. Does eating this feel abundant to my body?)
#2 Is it Kind?
Does my body want to eat this? Is it kind to my body to put this food into it?
This one is really tough. My mind has a belief that XYZ is healthy so I should eat it. But – does my body want to eat this salad? To hear the answer to this question, we have to go inside. We have to slow way, way down.
We have learned so many rules about our health and nutrition that we let our heads steer our food choices without realizing it. Your body may not want to be a healthy eater (for now). Our bodies may need to rebel against the tight reigns of control.
Or, your body may want to be free from sugar and caffeine buzzes. We have to grow still enough to hear the whisper of our bodies.
#3 Is it necessary?
Am I physically hungry? Is it necessary that I eat this, right now?
If we’re bored, or actually looking to experience comfort, then we do not feel physical hunger. In The Yoga of Eating, we do not eat when we are not physically hunger out of respect for our bodies.
Not only do we refrain from eating if we are not physically hungry, we also always, always eat when we are feeling hungry.
This is the most important step in the Yoga of Eating for tuning into our bodies, to connecting to our physical sensations.
If we aren’t hungry, we simply eat that good + kind food choice later. Wait an hour.
And, just as importantly, we keep food with us for when we get hungry.
Each step in The Yoga of Eating is deceptively simple. Each question, like the meditation it is, requires honest reflection.
It’s taken me home to my body, again and again. My hope is that there is some aspect in The Yoga of Eating that helps you find connection to your body, too.
If you like reading what Laurie has to say, hear more from her, here.
(Originally published on YOGANONYMOUS)