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For starts, let’s assume everyone reading this is a nutrition expert. We know What to eat, for the most part.

The function of food is simple and as follows:

Good, clean food ->improves assimilation -> increases energy -> improves digestion ->eliminates constipation – > makes you sexy. In that order.

Now, picture this:

Licking Nutella off the spoon, exiting out the door, shoving an energy bar, bursting with antioxidant and all… busy, no? Picking out leftovers from a child’s plate, after ranting at them for not eating. Loud bossing in general, instant opinion about how horrible the food’s going to taste. Watching TV, reading email. Getting up for seconds, thirds, or fourths? Still hungry? Looking at the ice cream tub at midnight?

When my energy sags, skin flakes (or worse), or weight see-saws, I agonize over my “healthy” eating plan, haul the best of the weight-loss books, visit websites, re-analyze, make plans, create lists, buy more “organic” food and agonize all over again. What was amiss? Then I recalled this:

When my spiritual teacher visited us in 2010, I ate ravenously, fully and completely. The meals were prepared at home, with much love and affection. We shared a meal and a prayer. We talked, we laughed, we appreciated the delectable setting on the table. Five days of merriment, good meals, and loads of energy. When he left, I found that I had dropped five pounds, my skin glowed and I had forgotten to wear make-up.

Was it how I ate that made all the difference?

Picture this:

Pancakes at breakfast : 1 egg, a scoop of whole whey concentrate, 1 tablespoon of organic gluten-free pancake mix, a tablespoon of chia seeds, fresh organic blueberries. Perfect. Yes? Aha..

Now picture this:

Me: shouting loudly at the kids: “Come down your breakfast’s getting cold”- Adrenaline rush, cortisol rising, adipose forming – where’s the lion*? Then, flipping a pancake and stuffing a piece in my mouth, wondering if I can down another cup of coffee before dropping off the kids to school. Liver imbalance, bile thickened, sluggish intestinewhere’s the sexy?

*The body has just moved into a flight-or-fight response. In that instant. If there was a lion in the kitchen, I would have attempted to run away, and perhaps not added on adipose (fat).

As part of my Project 365, I have decided the spotlight will shine first on mindful eating.  Following are my steps to support this.

SIT and SET

1) Find a place to sit down. Even if I’m licking jelly of a spoon.

2) Use a bowl, plate and cup combo. Place the entire meal within this three-piece setting.

3) Sit comfortably. Don’t read further. STOP – Do this now..Relax your shoulders, gently release the tension in your neck by moving it. Breathe calmly and soften your belly. Relax your jaw.  Ok – good. Continue reading. You have just set the hormones in the right mood to assist your digestion.

LOOK and FEEL

4) While seated, survey the food with all five senses. Will this be enough? Take a super-educated guess without using your brain. Feel it. Yes, No? Will I need seconds? Of which item? Do not say, “Maybe.” This is so, so important. Maybe means you are thinking too much and not listening to the signals from your body.

5) Nix distractions.

PRAY, EAT, LOVE

6) Place my hands around the food. Thank and bless the food. A simple affirmation, “May this be meal be satisfying and nourishing.” “May this food be healing.”

7) Eat happily. Need a second helping? Yes? Love yourself anyway.

Do just this, and nothing else, without worrying about what to eat. (for now; this is working counter to the norm. Become skillful in the “how” and then the “what”)

If you are trying this out for the first time, start with just one meal, whether it is a huge dinner or a small orange, and do all steps for a whole week, slowly extending it to all you eat. Create your own special routine.

Write to me; let me know if anything changed, or if you have questions or suggestions. If you are a Zen master, share your thoughts and tips.

Here’s my most valuable tip. Take a picture of everything you eat each day, for at least one week. From licking the spoon, to the energy bar, your drinks and your supplements. Go ahead, use that smart phone. Picture-taking is uber-fashionable these days.

This is what I ate today.

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Coming up in the next post.. How picture taking will increase mindful eating.

Until then

Drink your tea slowly and reverently, as if it is the axis on which the world earth revolves – slowly, evenly, without rushing toward the future. Live the actual moment.’ ~Thich Nhat Hanh