Do you sometimes eat even if you’re not hungry?
Have you ever felt so emotional that the only thing that calms you down is putting food inside you? And more often than not in bigger amounts than you really need?
Did you ever feel so helpless about this whole situation, without knowing how to get out of it?
Well, me too. But I have good news : you can get rid of this !
Before diving into the concrete solutions to this issue, let’s clarify a couple of things about the nature of our relation to food.
First of all, we all know that we need food to survive. This is something that can’t be denied. The thing we talk less about is that we consume way more than we really need and that a lot of our eating habits are social and emotional.
In this context, food is not only an addiction; it’s a very vicious one. This is because other addictions aren’t that inherently necessary to our lives. You can’t help emotional eating by “just” stopping eating. So, how and where to draw the line?
What I would like to share with you through this article are some insights, tips & tricks that helped me setting up a more balanced relationship to food. I can say that the journey hasn’t been easy all the time but that it got very quickly rewarding and that it was not as hard as I thought it would be before starting the process. Today, I can say that I got completely used to eat reasonable amounts of food, stopped snacking, and, as a bonus, gained back my ideal weight.
I was the typical kind of person who, when emotional, upset or bored, would just start binge eating (often in front of a binge watched tv show). I got to the point where I would get to the store to buy some sweets at night, eat an excessive quantity in front of a movie and eventually end up crying and hating myself for eating too much. I would keep eating, even when my stomach was so full it hurt, because I was trying to fill a never-ending hole inside. I came to the verge of purposefully making myself vomit. And this became my routine.
I knew that something was wrong and that I needed to transform this pattern.
I tried many things – going on diets, eating raw, limiting myself to eat on a certain schedule,… – nothing helped. Best case scenario, it would work for 2 weeks. After that I would just collapse again. I later understood that this was because my body and mind were traumatized about not having enough food; I was subconsciously perceiving these diets like punishments.
I struggled like this for years and, finally, I found the recipe that fit me:
Most of our eating habits are emotional and social. We carry that since generations and lifetimes. Collectively, the society dictates so much and we don’t even question that.
So, read yourself, get to know your emotions and why they are there. Psychotherapy and meditation can be of a great help here.
When we start dealing with our emotions and understanding deeper our link to food, we see that most of the time, we aren’t actually hungry. Maybe our body is thirsty or just wants a fruit, not a whole three course meal that will make us feel tired. Maybe you will notice that you don’t feel nice when you eat too late and that you prefer waking up with an empty stomach.
Here’s a trick that you can try at anytime: when you’re in a shop, take what your brain wants to buy in your hands, and focus on your stomach. Are you usually feeling good after eating it? Is it a real need or simply a desire? If the desire is too strong, you shouldn’t repress it. But do this with awareness! 🙂
Self-acceptance is the first rule of spirituality. Before successfully changing my way of eating, I had many tries that failed. This was because I was too harsh, putting myself in army-like situations. With time, I learned to love myself, to be full of understanding and compassion, like with a child. Concretely, I created a meal plan that was flexible enough so I wouldn’t feel hungry at any point. I made it very loose in the beginning. Step by step, I put more space between my meals and my addiction eventually vanished. I am not as hungry as before, I accept myself way more and I always eat enough – I never restrict myself when it comes to food.
By applying these few tips to your own life, it shouldn’t be more complicated for you than it was for me!
Good luck… And bon appétit!
Article by: Tea, Mohanji Acharya
I am continually amazed at the comprehensiveness of Paramhansa Yogananda’s teachings for the balanced development of body, mind and spirit. There is almost no aspect of our lives to which Yogananda hasn’t applied the ancient science of yoga, and given us a practical, straight-forward regime to follow—getting along with your employer, developing personality, finding the correct spouse, destroying bad habits, making friends, overcoming nervousness—to mention only a few.
The list of subjects to which Yogananda applied his cosmic vision is seemingly endless, and all this was in addition to his real mission—to bring us practical and proven techniques for soul liberation. No wonder he said,
“If you do one-hundredth of what I’ve given you, it is sufficient.”
One of Yogananda‘s practical regimes for personal improvement that I’ve taken to heart is his “Nine-Day Cleansing and Vitalizing Diet.” Since the first time I tried it many years ago, I’ve experienced remarkable results, and have tried to do it with groups, a few others, or alone each year.
What is the Nine-Day Cleansing Diet? The brief description that follows provides all the information needed for you to successfully complete the diet.
The food allowed each day for the nine days is:
1 ½ grapefruits
1 ½ lemons
1 cooked vegetable with juice (quantity optional)
1 raw vegetable salad
1 glass orange juice*
3 cups of Vitality Beverage (one cup at each meal)
*to be taken every night before going to bed with ½ tsp. of senna leaves or Swiss Kriss, and later increase to 1 tsp.
2 stalks chopped celery
5 carrots (chopped) including part of stem
1 bunch chopped parsley
½ qt. chopped dandelion, or turnip greens, or spinach
1 qt. water
No salt or spices
The vitality beverage may be prepared in two ways, the first being preferable:
1. After putting celery and carrots through food processor, or chopping them finely, lightly boil them in the water for ten minutes. Then add selected greens and parsley and boil ten minutes more. Strain by squeezing through a cheesecloth.
2. Use the same ingredients, but do not cook them. After putting them through a vegetable juicer, strain as above.
Drink one cup of the beverage, prepared by either method, at each of the three meals. That’s it—nothing more, nothing less.
The vitality beverage is essential to the cleansing action of the diet. I’ve tried both of the above two ways of preparing it and prefer the first, which involves boiling the chopped vegetables.
The raw vegetable method produces a juice similar to fresh carrot juice. The cooked method produces a bland-tasting broth similar, for those of you familiar with it, to Beiler’s “Potassium Broth” or Paavo Aerola’s broth, both of which are recommended for cleansing purposes. Try both the boiled and raw vegetable methods and decide for yourself.
What results have I experienced?
You may experience irritability in the first few days. Whether this reaction is caused by the release of toxins, I don’t know, but it’s wise to give someone on the diet a wide berth during the first few days. My husband, Jyotish, and I have an agreement that anything said during the beginning of the diet cannot be held against us. This plan has worked well, and we’ve stayed together through many successful attempts at the cleansing diet.
Sometimes people have headaches during the first few days, especially those addicted to coffee or black tea. The headaches seem to be caused by caffeine withdrawal.
You may also find a psychological change in your attitude towards food. Although you are actually eating large quantities of food, because the food is without salt, oil, or seasonings of any kind, it doesn’t provide the sensory satisfaction that we usually get from food. You may find yourself not interested in food at all.
Interested in trying the diet?
Here are a few tips I’ve discovered:
1. Practice Yogananda’s Energization Exercises at least once a day during the diet. Your awareness of subtle life energy is greatly increased at this time, and you can feel more sensitively the flow of prana through the medulla to the body parts.
2. Take regular sunbaths exposing as much of the body as possible to direct sunlight. Yogananda said you can receive up to ten times the benefit from solar energy if you consciously draw it into your body cells.
3. I find the Nine-Day Diet easiest to complete during the spring or summer months, which seems to be a natural cleansing time for the body. Also, because of the decreased caloric intake, the body tends to feel cold during the diet, which is less of a problem in the warm weather. In the spring and summer, there is also a greater variety of vegetables available for steaming.
4. Yogananda also recommends taking nightly warm baths with Epsom salts or some other good bath salt. The cleansing and rejuvenation of the skin produced by the diet are remarkable, and these warm salt baths aid in this process.
5. The regime of food consumption that works best for me is: Breakfast—grapefruits and vitality beverage; lunch—salad and vitality beverage; and dinner—steamed vegetables, lemons and vitality beverage, with oranges eaten through the day. Experiment and find what works best for you.
6. When coming off the diet, eat lightly and simply for the first few days. Someone once said, “Any fool can fast, but it takes a wise man to end his fast well.”
Yogananda called this Nine-Day Cleansing Diet “a method for rejuvenating the body cells and awakening the latent powers of the mind and the inner forces of the soul.” I heartily encourage you to launch into this spiritual adventure and challenge, and enjoy for yourself its remarkable benefits.
Reprinted from Clarity Magazine, July 1988. Nayaswami Devi, together with her husband Nayaswami Jyotish, is Co-Acharya (Spiritual Director) for Ananda Sangha Worldwide.