Using food to avoid feelings of anxiety, fear, depression, excitement, anger, sadness or self-hatred is a sign of dangerous underlying problems. If your eating is a tool to make yourself instantly feel “better,” addiction is likely to occur in the form of obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors. Do you feel you have no control over when, what and how much you eat? Do you ever find yourself eating and can’t remember making the decision to pick up food? Do you eat because you’re bored or just because everyone else is? These are self-destructive eating patterns, rooted in self-loathing and/or a feeling of no control over your life.
Food addiction is an obsessive drive to consume in ways that go against your natural instinct for well-being and balance. There is a progression from feeling like you “deserve” something and thinking of it as a “reward,” to planning in your head to eat “naughty foods.” There is also obsessing about when the next meal is coming, repeatedly overeating perhaps even to the point of feeling sick, eating excessive amounts of a particular food, binging and purging, and/or eating very little. All of these behaviors weaken your digestive fire (agni). The digestive fire is the energy available to digest what you consume physically, mentally, and emotionally. When you weaken your digestive fire it becomes difficult to deal with life and food is not absorbed and assimilated properly.
There are many other destructive approaches to eating that have become common today.
- Eating on the run, while driving or walking
- Eating too fast
- Eating with distractions such as TV, computer or reading
- Eating junk food
- Eating poor combinations of food, and many more
Eating unconsciously in any situation leads to poor digestion. This mechanical attitude toward food and eating cultivates disconnection from your higher Self and from nature. When the primary purpose of eating is filling an internal void, negative results are sure to come. These are all signs that there is a problem.
However, the solution can come into view once you break the denial that there is a problem. Just as there is a progression into addiction, there are steps out of it to a new and better life.
Practice following the natural messages your body gives you, and you will have incredible freedom. Have meals on a regular schedule. Stop eating at the first burp and don’t eat more than you can hold cupped in your two hands. Be sure you have digested the previous meal before eating again. Most importantly, eat consciously.
Examples of conscious eating include sitting down and taking 3-12 slow breaths. Say a prayer or statement of appreciation for the food and be sure your environment is quiet and peaceful without distractions such as TV, music or books. Keep the conversation light, or silence is always an option too! Engage all of your senses with the food before you start eating. Listen as the spices pop and the water boils, watch the vegetables simmer, smell all of the different ingredients and then the finished meal. Touch the food and/or eat with your hand. It will expand your joyful experience of the food.
These are only a few of the practices to help you along your journey. Ayurveda and Yoga offer many paths to a healthy diet, balanced lifestyle, deep spiritual connection and an understanding of your mind. Clearing out old ideas and beliefs around food and eating will make space for natural, fun ways. We are here to assist you in following your path to freedom. Freedom In Your Relationship With Food: An Everyday Guide and Simple Ayurvedic Recipes are several books available that are filled with Ayurvedic recipes and hundreds of tips on healthy consumption.
Myra Lewin has consulted, studied, and taught Ayurveda, yoga, nutrition, meditation, and subtle energy management since the late 1980s. Her in-depth knowledge of human anatomy, physiology and psychology enables her to approach people at their level to encourage the integration of healthy balanced practices as a foundation for living. Honoring the holistic nature of the human being, she has helped many people move from destructive paths toward fulfillment. Learn practical Ayurveda today with Myra’s Getting Started with Ayurveda program.