By: Miriam Yerushalmi
Do you mind…
… feeling tired?
… feeling cranky, moody, and irritable?
… feeling sluggish?
… being unable to concentrate?
…a frequent runny nose, colds, or flus?
Then be mindful!
Being “mindful” means that you are fully present in the moment, totally cognizant of what you are doing and how you are doing it. Being mindful benefits your mind, body, and soul.
When you eat, you nourish your mind as well as your body. The foods you choose to eat can help you feel more vibrant, energized, and focused. A healthy body is a healthy soul.
Mindful eating is being fully engaged in the act of nourishing yourself, so that you can be sure you are making the best choices for your overall health. Being mindful of what, when, how, and how much you eat can change the way you feel, and the way you feel about yourself.
Being well-informed is the first step to mindful eating. Knowledge is power, but you need to implement what you know.
What do you need to know? What to eat, when to eat it, and how much to eat. You also need to know how damaging unhealthy food can be to you.
Dr. Irving Beychok, a top surgeon, studied the lives of his patients for over 60 years, and his findings correlated with the advice of Maimonides (the Rambam): The three things that have the greatest impact on health, in order of importance, are:
1. The amount you eat
2. The amount of exercise you get
3. The foods you eat
The effort of eating wisely and healthily can help decrease your risk of disease.
Many of my clients have suffered from anxiety, depression, sleep problems, or attention deficits—but their health improved just by decreasing sugar and gluten in their diet.
In a recent study, three groups of people were brought, separately, into a room that held tables full of platters of chocolate cake. The first group was told to concentrate on the feelings of failure they have experienced after overindulging in such food; the second group was simply told when to go in and go out; the third group was told to contemplate the last time that they were tempted by “junk” food and how they felt when they successfully resisted the urge to indulge. Which group ate the least chocolate cake?
Group #3: those who remembered the feelings of success when they overcame temptation.
The key factor is self-control.
How can we achieve self-control and mindful eating?
How do we stop our hearts from wanting that delicious and delightful food? How do we stop our hands from reaching out to take more? How do we keep our mouths closed?
We have to train our brains to the behaviors we want to implement.
Visualization can help.
Here are some ideas:
1. Imagine yourself sitting at the king’s table—how would you eat?
2. Imagine the unhealthy food turning black and exuding harmful rays.
3. Imagine yourself strong and healthy after eating good food.
Be creative; design your own images.
The support of a friend or guidance counselor can help you conquer emotional eating, and so will positive affirmations and focusing on positive feelings about your successes.
General Tips: Keep a journal at mealtimes and record your reactions to different foods:
How do you feel right after eating a particular food?
Are you feeling heavy, sluggish, tired?
Do you have a headache?
Do you feel nauseated?
Is your stomach cramping, churning, gassy, or bloated?
Pay attention, as these reactions might indicate that you are eating too much, eating the wrong combination of foods, or that you are sensitive/allergic to these foods.
Then, try to implement these changes. (Please be aware that not everything on this list is appropriate for everyone, due to allergies or blood type or specific pre-existing conditions. Consult your doctor or health practitioner before instituting major dietary changes.)
1. Eat light foods first—start off with vegetables.
2. Fat burns fat! Incorporate healthy fats, such as avocado, fish and nuts. Coconut oil burns fat and curbs appetite. Avoid refined oils, but don’t skimp on the healthy oils. Use unrefined cold-pressed oils when possible.
3. Learn to combine food for the best digestion—mixing certain food groups slows down digestion. Proteins mix well with vegetables, but not starches. Eat fruit separately.
4. Apportion the food groups properly.
For women: Up to 70-80% percent of food intake should be vegetables, especially after menopause, because as we get older, our metabolism slows down.
According to Dr. Madhu Rajaram, a maximum of 50-60 grams of protein is enough for one day. The amount that fits in the palm of your hand is a good estimate of an appropriate portion per meal.
5. Limit the amount of sweet fruit you eat, which are high in sugar, but instead, try fruits like berries, which have a lot of anti-oxidants and alkaline qualities. These are great to eat as your morning meal. Holistic practitioners say up to one cup a day is more than enough.
6. Understand acidic and alkaline foods. Sweets are acid-forming, contributing to acid reflux.
Decrease or eliminate sugar and gluten (grain) foods. If you eat carbohydrates, choose whole grains. Check labels! Often, white bread is treated with food coloring to make it look like whole grain.
7. Drink before you eat. The symptoms of dehydration and the symptoms of hunger feel the same.
8. Probiotics help keep weight off and maintain a healthy gut. Ask your doctor or health practitioner about adding vitamins B6 and B12, D3, and DHA.
Avoid chemical additives, food coloring, and preservatives, as they all negatively affect metabolism and overall health.
9. Stop eating before you are full: Wait 10 minutes before eating more, giving the food time to reach your stomach.
Take supplements to maximize digestion, such as protease or garcinia-cambogia fruit supplement to help curb appetite.
10. De-stress: Stress constricts and holds on to the weight.
Meditation releases and relaxes the body and mind. Deep breaths are calming. Music can help you relax, or it can get you moving and make exercising fun. Saunas are not only relaxing and cleansing, but also reputedly detoxifying. Exercise—even five minutes of core- muscle tightening and 10- 15 minutes of aerobic movement will help.
11. Get enough sleep—Lack of sleep is related to cortisol levels, which affect our metabolism.
Finish eating at least two hours before going to bed. Avoid eating fruit or sugar before bedtime, but eat complex carbs instead, which can be relaxing.
Hot baths with essential oils added (such as lavender) are also relaxing and contribute to a deeper, more healthful sleep.
And finally, remember to smile! A positive mental attitude is the basis of success.
Here are some books that can give you more information:
The Life-Transforming Diet—Based on Maimonides’ Teachings by David Zulberg
The Garden of Healing by Rabbi Shalom Arush
Body Mind and Soul by Rabbi Yitzchak Ginsburgh
Body Ecology Diet by Dana Gates
Grain Brain by David Perlmutter, MD
Sugar Blues by William Dufty
Blood Type 4Life by Peter D’Adamo
The Calcium Lie by Robert Thompson MD
Fit For Life by Harvey and Marilyn Diamond
"The doctor of the future will no longer treat the human frame with drugs, but rather cure and prevent disease with nutrition." –Thomas Edison
holds an MS in Psychology and Family Therapy. She was trained at Pepperdine University and is uniquely skilled at combining behavioral and humanistic approaches to address a wide spectrum of issues. Additionally, Miriam has authored the highly acclaimed book series, “Reaching New Heights” on marriage, and on prayer and meditation, which is endorsed by Dr. Avraham Twersky, and “Heavenly Waters: Mikvah Messages for Our Daily Lives”. She has also authored many children books. Over 200 of her free classes are available online at Torahanytime.com and on her YouTube channel. Check out her meditation video on bonding with your inner child here. Miriam can be reached at Miriamyerushalmi18@gmail.com.