The Thin Line between Eating and Over Eating

Just think the last time you overate – when was it? What were you feeling – were you worried or anxious or stressed or simply so busy multitasking that you were completely unaware of how much you ate? In my practice as a Nutrition Counselor, I am often asked – ‘how much should do you think I should eat?  Is 1 roti enough or do I need 2?’ And my standard answer is – ‘Do I live inside your stomach? Then how do I know?’

I do understand where most of these people come from – they are often unable to identify the thin line between eating & overeating. And by the time they realize they are full, they have already overeaten!

Do you know why you overeat when worried, anxious, stressed or unaware?

When you are in a stressful situation, your sympathetic nervous system activates the “fight or flight” response. This is your biological response to stress. Your body shuts down processes such as digestion and increases your heart rate. During fight or flight, the adrenal gland releases cortisol – the stress hormone. Just imagine – when you are eating and your digestive system is actually switched off – because you are stressed – so what happens to the food you eat? How do you get your nourishment?

When you are in this state of fight or flight – your mind is in panic mode – so you are unable to simply enjoy the food in front of you. You need to consume a far larger quantity of food before your brain can register and even begin to relish the food in the mouth!

Solution

I thus tell my patients that the secret to know when to stop is that – even before you sit to eat, sit in a relaxed frame of mind. No matter where you are, and what you are doing – when you sit down to eat, leave all your worries aside, say a little prayer, thank the food in front of you – and then focus all your attention to the food in front of you. As you take a bite to eat, focus on the appearance of it, the smell, and the colours. As you put it in your mouth focus on the taste the texture – try and involve all your senses as you eat.  When you are relaxed and eat in awareness – you actually relish every little bite you eat. And you will actually feel satisfied with just the right amount of food you need in that moment.

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Gratitude to Food

On the 1st of January, I started this online event – “30 Days of Gratitude”. (https://www.facebook.com/events/798071456931339/) It is Day 8 today. We started by  thanking special people in our lives – family-friends and today the theme is food.  Food is an integral part of our life. We eat every day. Through our ups – downs, we may choose different foods, but we do eat something. Yes, later it is possible we go on a guilt trip about what we ate, but in that moment, when we were eating – and that particular Food gave us comfort, love and security.

Technically speaking food is simply matter with various proportions of carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins, and minerals. On a regular day – we do make our choices based on awareness of the goodness of the food in our plate. But in most traditions we pray or say Grace before we eat. Traditionally it was a way of purifying the food. Sending it positive energy. We would say thank you for the Food and to the Food. What are we really thanking? The practice of saying a simple Thank you connects us to the food we eat, the people we share it with and the world that has supported and nurtured us with nourishment.

At its core – Food is energy. Haven’t you experienced – that on days when you eat and you are upset, angry or agitated – you often end up feeling bulky or bloated or heavy or along those lines and on days when you are in a great mood, feeling good and smiling on the inside and at peace with yourself – you just eat ‘right’ amount of food, you feel light, there is a spring in your step. ( I am not talking about over-eating out of excitement 😉 )

When you eat with love, what’s prepared with love and served with love, you feel more nourished, refreshed, alive, satisfied, satiated, balanced, at peace and definitely loved. So our meals are an awesome time for gratitude, to remember the goodness of what lies before us, the earth and all our many connections. We eat food to give us strength and energy to carry on with our purpose of life

Most of us are too lazy or in a rush to take time to say thank you before we eat. But a small thank you said from the bottom of your heart is a great thing. Before you start eating – just for a moment pause – close your eyes, take a deep breath and just say a thank you. You will be amazed at how aware you become of your NOW in that moment.  Try this for a week before every meal – just say a quiet thank you in your mind. Would love to hear about your experience.

Happy, Blessed and Blissful Eating!

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