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Keeping a Mind-Body Food Journal for Health and Healing

Keep a Mind-Body Food Journal for Health and HealingKeeping a mind-body food journal

How would you like to understand, once and for all, the relationship between what you’re eating and how you feel? Keep a mind-body food journal. It’s a powerful way to gain insight into eating habits and the impact of food choices on your mental and physical well-being. A mind-body food journal is different from a “diet diary” because the intention is different: it’s not just about the fit of your jeans, it’s about how food fits your life and your lifestyle.
Too often we eat mindlessly – on the run, watching television, behind the computer. A mind-body food journal helps create clarity between what we choose and how we feel. It leads the way to improved choices and – because food is medicine – supports total mind-body health and healing.
Start your journal today. Track your eating habits for a few weekdays and at least one weekend day. Do this for at least two weeks.

What to Track in a Mind-Body Food Journal

Food Factors
When did you eat?
What did you eat?
How much did you eat?
Why did you eat?
How did you feel after eating?
Mind Factors
What was your overall mood before and after eating?
Did you have headaches, or mental/emotional fatigue?
Body Factors
What did you notice about your body before and after eating?
Social & Environmental Factors
Who were you with for the meal?
Did you eat hurriedly or calmly?
Were you doing another activity while eating?
Review your journal at the end of each day and summarize your habits. Note the key factors for why you chose to eat the way you did, what was going on, how you felt and if there were any physical symptoms. You and Dr. Myra Reed’s staff can use this information to help make healthier food choices.

Yoga for Your Plate: Mindful Eating

Family dinner-mindful eatingThe race is on: Cooking, cleaning, hosting, visiting, and tackling a holiday shopping list that is growing faster than last summer’s weeds. Before you know it, the table is set and you’re serving the holiday meal. This year, though, is going to be different–you’re going to sit down and savor the cornucopia of flavors and the good company at your table.

The art of Mindful Eating, with its roots in Zen teachings, aims to reconnect you more deeply with the experience of eating and drinking. It’s the process of deliberately paying attention to what is happening both within yourself and in your environment during mealtime. When you eat mindfully, you are in tune with the aroma, taste, and texture of food. You become much more aware of your appetite–just how hungry are you? And, you become more sensitive to the feeling of fullness, so you’ll be less likely to overeat. Mindful eating brings enjoyment back to mealtime.

5 Ways to Slow Down and Savor Your Holiday Meal

Mindful eating woman smelling orange.Pause & Connect. After you give thanks for your meal, but before you pick up your fork, take a moment to connect with your appetite. How hungry do you feel? Of all the glorious food on the table before you, what are you truly hungry for? What flavors will nourish you and replenish your energy? Try not to choose foods out of habit. Fill your plate first with the foods your body is saying it most needs. Then, embellish your plate with smaller amounts of those traditional holiday favorites.

Clear Digital Distractions. Although it’s less likely at holiday time when family and friends gather from near and far, it’s easy to forget to turn off the digital devices that are such a huge part of our lives. Sure, someone will complain about missing a “key play” in the big game, but what’s more important? Everyone at your table should be in the moment for the main part of the meal–free of distraction.

Take Bites, Not Gulps. Instead of shoveling food into your mouth, take smaller bites and focus on chewing and tasting it. Digestion begins with the act of chewing. Salivary enzymes break down food the moment it enters your mouth. Your taste buds awaken to flavors as you chew. Pause between bites to set your utensils down and breathe.

Engage All the Senses. The taste of food is just one way to appreciate it. Throughout your meal, notice how food smells and how it looks on the plate. Notice the colors and the textures. Consider the nutrients that the food will provide for you. Appreciate every aspect of eating (and celebrating) the holiday meal.

Be a Nonjudgmental Diner. Being a nonjudgmental diner is about paying attention to your needs for nourishment and not the person’s next to you. And if you feel yourself on the verge of overindulgence, make it a conscious choice. Choose your favorite holiday treat and bring a focused awareness to eating it. Almost certainly, you’ll so enjoy and be satisfied by that first piece of pie, you won’t feel the urge for seconds.