Die with a T

DIE with at T

It’s a challenge to work in a field that revolves around diets. Our culture has such a twisted relationship with food. A few of my clients expect a draconian list of restrictions during our first session. It’s a process shifting towards a kinder model. There is no perfect one-size fits all diet. All the diets I recommend must be adjusted accommodate individual needs based on lab tests and the experience of the client.

Most of us could improve our relationship with food in our daily life.  The following three concepts are Buddhist guidelines to work with suffering, which is a pretty good description of the typical western dieting mindset.

1. Gentleness
Does anyone reading this not beat him or herself up on a daily basis? Undoing this deeply learned pattern is no small feat and we tend to be the hardest on ourselves when we don’t feel well or face a big challenge. The good news is we can consciously develop kindness towards ourselves. We aren’t inherently bad or wrong. We do deserve compassion, and we can tell ourselves so, even if it feels awkward or insincere at first. We choose our own pace. You may be more successful if you introduce one change at a time rather than radically change everything at once.

2. Nowness
We are so accustomed to keeping busy that we often aren’t present in our bodies. I frequently ask clients to take a bite of food, and notice what it feels like to really chew it until it is totally soft. This is a big challenge for most people, and my clients often notice flavors and qualities that they have not observed before. The ability to be present, even for a second, allows you to experience your environment, your feelings, and your experiences. The ability to be present in your own body has been shown to reduce stress, improve digestion, immunity and overall health. It also allows you be truly alive.

3. Inquisitiveness
Now that you can gently be present, you have the ability to be curious. Does your body really want sugar, or is the craving a mask for another need? Are you tired? What would happen if you took a nap instead? It’s all an experiment. Lab tests and the suggestions I offer as a nutrition consultant can help clients to identify underlying causes of cravings and discomfort. However, science is not a substitute for experience, and clients still must determine for him or herself which actions help the most.

I would like to thank my mother, Sarah Mandel, a teacher and long time practitioner of Buddhism, for the inspiration for this newsletter. You can learn more about these ideas in the book Radical Acceptance by Tara Brach, and the books by Pema Chodron.
I will share more on how these concepts can work with food and nutrition, as well as how to reduce cravings through nutrition in my upcoming events Sugar Slave and Gluten-free Baking. I would like to thank Jim Davis, creator of the cartoon, “Garfield” for the title of this newsletter.

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