How Food and Emotion are connected

In Ayurveda, there’s big emphasis on the state of mind, and how food affects us.

Did you know that food, and the way we eat, and how we feel while, during, and after eating plays a huge role in how we live our lives?

yoga-diet

Hansaji Yogendra of The Yoga Institute in Mumbai, India, has great insight onto this topic in her article Yogic Principles of Healthy Eating:

The ancients knew this long ago – they equated food with God. Thus, were developed rituals and practices like praying before meals, eating with full concentration, relishing the meal, etc. Therefore while eating, one should attend to the way food is being chewed, the subtle tastes of the different food items, the way it goes down the oesophagus to the stomach, etc.

When food is eaten thus, with one -pointedness, the assimilation and absorption of food is at its best. This is the ideal way to eat food. Alternatively, one could also indulge in polite conversations bringing joy and happiness. Avoid watching television while eating. One should also try to go beyond likes and dislikes and not have a negative opinion about food. Most physical ailments are caused due to unhealthy food habits.

Moderation is the key word. Eat food as a duty, eat only as much as will make you feel hungry after 4 hours. Remember that food we eat is only to sustain us and our body’s proper functioning, avoid overeating just because you like the taste of the food. Instead eat what you love slowly, relishing every part of the meal; that way you will feel fuller faster and not crave for more food.

Furthermore, here are some key points to take home:

Tips to eat right from dawn to dusk

  • While lying in bed on your back inhale 5 seconds and exhale deeply 5 seconds. While going for a walk inhale for 2 steps, exhale for 2 steps. Follow this pattern for about hundred steps. This will help you wake up feeling happy and relaxed.
  • Appreciate whatever there is on your plate. In case some taste is unpleasant for you, instead of becoming critical, enjoy every morsel of food and be happy that you have some food to eat, unlike others who do not. Our likes and dislikes have to be tempered by what is good for us. Remember to chew your food thoroughly. Make sure you do not have another morsel ready as you chew, this will tend to rush your meal. Wait till you have swallowed the food in your moth before you pick up the next morsel.
  • If your job is a sedentary one, get up every half an hour and walk a few steps.
  • Change the position of your legs often, this helps prevent swelling in the legs and keeps your blood circulation in order. Whenever possible close the eyes and think. Listen more and speak less.

Now here is a log that I used to track my emotions and how I felt after eating different foods.  I noticed consistently that there was a theme to how I felt after consuming different foods.  The Ayurvedic food groups are tracked into 3 Categories:

According to Yoga, the type of food you eat determines the type of mind , you have. As the food, so the mind; As the mind, so the man. Therefore, eat easily digestible food or

  1. Sattvic food which includes: Milk and milk products fresh fruits and dry fruits seasonal vegetables, cereals (like wheat, unpolished rice, jowar, bajra, corn), pulses (like moong dal – green with skin and yellow), sprouted cereals and pulses. A little ginger, turmeric powder (haldi), cumin seeds (jeera), coriander powder (dhania). Honey, jaggery, crystal sugar (misry), raw sugar (gud shakkar), ghee or rice brand oil and filtered oil (groundnut or till oil). Eating this food brings relaxation and a feeling of peace.What not to eat?
  2. Only little of rajasic food may be eaten. This food is difficult to digest and leaves one in a disturbed state of mind. All non-vegetarian foods, hot spices, onions, garlic, non-seasonal vegetables and salt fall in this category.
  3. Tamasic food is unnatural and stale. All refined, processed, artificially coloured, flavoured and deep frozen foods are Tamasic in nature.

NOW: Keep in mind that moderation in moderation is key.  This info is powerful knowledge, and so use to your digression.  Every body is different, so why not experiment with the log below to see how you feel?  It’s a cool self-experiment.

Mind and Body Reaction to Food Intake: Rate each which is applicable /10

This is a log which is a tool to use in order to see how our food choices affect the way we function in our minds and bodies. Food is a powerful medicine that affects not only our body functioning, but also our state of mind and state of being. This log is a way to watch how we feel after eating the food we eat, in a way to mindfully shift our behaviours after becoming aware of the way our choices are driving our sense perceptions.

  Morning Afternoon Evening
Time of Eating      
Food      
Mental state prior to eating      
Perceived Quantity      
Calmness      
Clarity      
Stress-level      
Mental comfort      
Physical Comfort      
Energy Level      
Happiness      
Self-Image      
Confidence      
Anxiety      
Ease/dis-ease      
Satiety      
Other      

Here’s an extra vid of brilliant insight if you want to hear more about Hansaji, and what she has to share: