Over indulgence is the cultural norm around the holidays. With libations and family stressors to carry us into a state of unconscious consumption, how do we stay on track with our healthy lifestyle?
The truth is even if it’s not Christmas time there’s always a celebration, birthday party, wedding, reunion… The perfect storm to derail our will. Ultimately, we have to learn to adapt to life and not use these occasions as excuses to put off our dreams and sabotage our intentions.
Start with the practice of cultivating mindful awareness. This is simply focusing your attention inward to the core of who you are: the part of you that notices and observes your inner dialogue.
Don’t be lured into believing that you ARE your mind chatter. You’re thoughts come and go like the wind. But you are always solidly positioned as the observer of your thoughts. The inner narrator is just a story teller. Don’t take it too seriously. That’s what it wants.
STEP 1: BECOME A DETECTIVE
Mindful awareness is the opposite of unconsciousness. It is being aware of what your mind is telling you while listening to your body in every moment. It is being fully present to whatever you discover and remaining still in the midst of it all. This is best practiced at home (before you get to the party) while sitting quietly and comfortably without moving or speaking. Notice how different thoughts make you feel differently.
When you find yourself drifting off into mental chatter, notice you’ve left the room of awareness and return your attention back to your breathing. When you find yourself chuckling at your thoughts–you’re making great progress.
Mindfulness calls us to fully embody our physicality through curiosity about everything we perceive through the doorway of our senses. Before you pull up a chair to the feast, become a detective and explore your inner landscape with curiosity while tuning in to what arises in the quiet space in between thoughts.
STEP 2: DETERMINE YOUR HUNGER
Now, when you are settled into stillness, ask your body if it’s hungry before you sit down to your meal. If the answer is “no” you might choose to try small bites, eating each one very slowly to thoroughly savor and appreciate each bite. If the answer is “yes” then further explore where the hunger is coming from. Take a few breaths while you wait for answers to emerge.
In the book Mindful Eating, Jan Chozen Bays, MD, talks about the nine kinds of hunger, exploring in detail the voices of each. She identifies eye hunger, touch hunger, ear hunger, nose hunger, mouth hunger, stomach hunger, cellular hunger, mind hunger, heart hunger and thirst. Each are very different, yet we attempt to satisfy them all with food. For example, our eye hunger can convince us to override signals from our stomach hunger and before you know it we are getting a second helping of dessert when are stomach is completely stuffed full! Or, the smell in the air triggers our mouth to water and suddenly we want to eat…
See if you can discover what kind of hunger you are experiencing.
STEP 3: BE STILL
Begin noticing what stories your mind makes up around food. This chatter is the under current that sweeps us into action; and before we know it we’ve eaten half the pumpkin pie, like driving to work without remembering how you got there. Sadly, we exist on autopilot the majority of the time, operating out of our subconscious programming.
Once you stop to investigate your inner dialogue, you discover what is really driving your “hunger” and then you can be at choice about whether or not you want to eat something or not.
When we stop automatic behavior, when we create a gap between a thought and the action or speech that usually follows it, we are wedging open the door to the prison made of thousands of conditioned habit patterns. ~ Mindful Eating, Dr. Jan Chozen Bays, MD
My personal mental chatter often entices me with “you deserve it” as if food is my reward for being good. Or, sometimes it sounds like a curious little child that wants to know what something taste like (mouth hunger) even though my stomach (stomach hunger) isn’t interested. When I honor my mouth hunger, I find the fantasy is usually always better than the reality and when this happens I quickly look for a nearby garbage can to spit in. There is nothing wrong with experiencing a food before you decide to engage with it more fully. Like going on a date before committing.
Dr. Bruce Lipton, the father of Epigenetics, says that the subconscious mind is a million times more powerful than the conscious mind. This explains why the placebo effect is so powerful and why the mind alone can heal the body. This is the force so strong it dictates our behavior without us even knowing.
As you become more and more mindful of your hunger, you will begin to notice thoughts and actions wanting to emerge. Out of this stillness arises choice.
STEP 4: NOTICE YOUR STORY
The moment we’re not paying attention (being mindful) the mind trap opens and swallows us up like a rogue wave sweeping us into believing that our thoughts are true stories. This worked well when we were operating in survival mode thousands of years ago. But now we must undo this pattern if we want to survive in modern day because our thoughts impact our body chemistry and stress and anxiety is the deadly result. With mindful awareness we can actually change our physiology by changing our mind.
The further we can distance our self from our mental self talk the more peacefulness we will experience. Everyone has mind chatter but it’s how we relate to it that matters. Ultimately, the desire to awaken must be stronger than the desire to operate on autopilot which is the default setting that’s managed by our thoughts. By noticing our mental chatter we disempower it’s grip on us creating an opening in the background noise. Speaking and acting on our thoughts creates our karma–while quietness and stillness create choice.
Begin by inviting the center of your attention inside of your physical body. Close your eyes. Relax. Inhale and climb on in. This may seem odd, but often our awareness resides outside of our physical body. It may take a few persistent invitations because we are programmed to escape in times of stress and holiday gatherings are often very stressful.
STEP 5: RETURN TO STILLNESS…
This is a process that never ends: noticing and returning… Noticing and returning. The Buddhist meditation often adds smiling. This is the essence of the laughing (or smiling) Buddha.
Consider every day a HOLI-day and look for ways to celebrate and honor yourself at the table of desire, preparing beautiful meals where you are the honored guest. What does your body want the very most? Something sweet? Savory? Salty? Green? Spicy? Chocolatey? Slow down and ask questions before each engagement with food.
Everything you put into your mouth should be a glorious experience that delights your senses. Food should bring you immense pleasure and absolute ecstasy with every bite. No exceptions. Everyday. Every meal. Slow down and enjoy the journey. Listen to what your body is telling you. It knows.
What we call peak moments are times when we are completely aware. Our life and our awareness are undivided, at one. At these times the gap between us and everything else closes and suffering disappears. We feel satisfied. Actually we are beyond satisfied or dissatisfied. We are present. ~ Mindfulness On The Go Jan Chozen Bays, MD
6 TIPS FOR SUPPORTING A HEALTH HOLIDAY
Here are some ways you can reduce the stress on your metabolism by eating more healthy fats and less sugars. You will more satisfied and eat much less!
- Eat all the meat and gravy you want (local, organic grass fed meat if possible).
- Substitute mashed potatoes for mashed cauliflower (add lot’s of butter and salt).
- No limit on green (low carb) veggies.
- Skip the beer and wine and have a “mocktail” (soda water, lemon juice,stevia).
- If you want alcohol try: soda water, hard alcohol of choice, lemon juice and stevia.
- Bring your own low glycemic (low carb) dessert (see recipe below).
- Take the leftover meat and bones home to make broth!
- Reset your metabolism with a broth fast.
RAW CHOCOLATE TRUFFLES
Indulge yourself with these delicious raw chocolate truffles that melt in your mouth!
- 4 oz. Organic Raw Cacao Paste
- 1 Teaspoon Ground Vanilla Bean
- 2 Pinches Himalayan Sea Salt
- 1/2 Cup “Let’s Do Organic” Brand Coconut Cream
- Stevia, Monk Fruit, Inulin, Xylitol or other low glycemic sweetener (to taste) NOTE* Over sweeten the mixture as the finished truffles are less sweet after they chill!
- 1/4 Cup Raw Cacao Powder (for dusting the outside)
In a double boiler or over very low heat begin melting the Raw Cacao Paste until it is creamy and smooth throughout. Use a wooden spoon and non metal pan if possible. Sweeten this mixture to taste with your low glycemic sweetener of choice (see options above). You can also use any combination of low glycemic sweeteners. NOTE** Over sweeten the melted mixture as the sweetness will dissipate in the final truffle.
While the Cacao Paste is melting, open the can of organic coconut milk and pour it into a bowl. (Because the coconut milk separates in the can, whisk it together until it is smooth and creamy.) Measure out 1/2 cup of the creamed coconut milk. Save the rest of the coconut milk in the refrigerator for a smoothie later.
Add all of the dry ingredients EXCEPT THE CACAO POWDER to the coconut milk gradually with the whisk until very creamy.
Remove the melted cacao paste from heat and add the coconut milk mixture to it. NOTE** The mixture will immediately start to change to a solid! Keep whisking! When the two mixtures are fully combined, let stand for a few minutes at room temperature until you can roll this mixture into walnut sized truffle “balls”. NOTE** Do not let the mixture sit too long at room temperature or it will get crumbly and become difficult to roll into balls.
Place the truffles on a plate and chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes or until firm. Dust outside with Cacao Powder. NOTE** A trick for dusting the truffles evenly in cacao powder is to sprinkle the Cacao Powder over the top of them while on a plate and then “agitate” the plate so the truffles roll around in the powder until perfectly coated.
Viola! These truffles may be better at room temperature before eating (depending on the room temperature). They will melt at body temperature. Keep chilled in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks.
Mary Beauchamp, RN
Mary Beauchamp is a is a world traveler, food alchemist, and student of ancient healing traditions. She has four beautiful children, two grandchildren and a husband of 25 years. With her knowledge of nutritional science, natural plant medicines, and ancient super foods, she formulates food products for the natural foods industry and is a private health coach specializing in healing the metabolism and reversing disease through the implementation of therapeutic nutritional strategies and mindful awareness. She specializes in healing the metabolism by addressing environmental, emotional and dietary stressors.
Mary works with a team of Naturopathic doctors at Auburn Naturopathic Medicine in northern California. She also offers private and group online coaching programs. You can learn more about her work by visiting her website, www.ketogenicdietcoach.com. Mary is passionate about re-educating people about nutrition. She invites you to experience your body as a master communication system and facilitates this sacred encounter within to unlock the body’s innate intelligence to heal and thrive!