Board Certified Physician and Mind-Body expert and teacher, Deepak Chopra, helps us explore the mind-body spirit connection between food and our emotions in his PBS special What Are You Hungry For? broadcast on WEDU, Tampa, Florida. Dr. Chopra says self awareness is the key to controlling emotional eating. Asking ourselves ” What am I hunger for?” helps trigger the awareness of why and what we are about to eat and give us time to make better choices. In this program we explore ways to make food work for our health. Dr. Chopra will help us use the tools and knowledge revealed to us through ancient wisdom traditions and the latest findings through modern science.
Awareness is the key to weight loss. Dr. Chopra advises that whenever you feel the urge to eat…
- Stop and feel your body. Take a moment and put your hands on your stomach. Become aware of what you are feeling in your body.
- Ask yourself “How hungry am I? Am I famished? Am I full? Am I comfortable? Am I uncomfortable? Is my stomach empty? Have I digested my previous meal? Am I craving food because I am hungry for something else like attention, affection, appreciation or acceptance?
If you find that you are physically hungry, then find out your hunger level. Think of your appetite as a fuel gauge. On a scale of 1 to 10…
- 1 – you are famished.
- 2-3 – you are hungry. This is ideally when you should eat.
- 4-6 – means you are satisfied /comfortable. This is when you should stop eating.
- 7-9 – you are uncomfortably full.
- 10 – you are stuffed!
Make this practice a habit. After 21 days it will become automatic
So we are hungry for food, nutrition. How do we make food work for our health? At the Chopra Center for Wellbeing, they don’t focus on counting fat grams and calories. Instead they encourage people to eat real fresh whole foods with minimal or no processing. We all know that refined and high processed foods are filled with artificial flavors and ingredients that can lead to obesity. Fast food and food sold by large agribusinesses are loaded with fats, salts, and chemicals that are highly addictive. When we eat them we want more and more never finding the nutritional fulfillment our bodies are seeking. These pseudo-foods contribute to imbalance, toxicity, and weight gain.
Dr. Chopra suggests we seek out the following ‘Yummy’ foods:
- whole food with minimal processing
- freshly prepared
- all-natural ingredients preferably organic
- food that hasn’t been genetically modified (GMOs). Dr. Chopra believes that genetically modified foods disrupts ecosystems and our bodies are an ecosystem.
And AVOID what he calls FLUNC foods….
- Unnatural- including foods containing artificial coloring flavorings and additives, refined and processed foods, and those containing Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO)
- Nuked / microwaved
Dr. Chopra considers these foods ‘dead foods’ because they do not contain all of the vital energy and nutrients in that we need. The fresher the food the more life force is available. Always choose the freshest foods and ingredients you can find.
Dr. Chopra also advises getting a balanced diet. He explains that by eating of The Six Tastes and The Seven Colors Of The Rainbow, we are giving our bodies the healthiest nutrients on the planet!
The Six Tastes – Include these tastes at every meal.
- Sweet – builds tissue and calm nerves. They include whole grains, starchy vegetables, dairy, chicken, fish, meat, honey and molasses. These foods DO NOT INCLUDE REFINED SUGAR!
- Sour – these foods slow the emptying of our stomachs, reducing the insulin stimulating effect of carbohydrates. These include citrus fruits, berries, tomatoes, pickled foods and vinegar.
- Salt – salty foods in moderation will help stimulate digestion. These include table salt, soy sauce, salted meats and fish.
- Bitter – these are foods loaded with natural phytochemicals which are anti-inflammatory, detoxifying with disease preventing and healing properties. These include green leafy vegetables, kale, celery, broccoli, sprouts and beets.
- Pungent – these are spicy foods which naturally contain antioxidants and infection fighting chemicals. They also stimulate metabolism and digestion. Examples of these foods are peppers, chilies, onions, garlic, cayenne, curry, turmeric, black pepper, cloves, ginger and mustard.
- Astringent – these absorb water and tighten our tissues. These include lentils, beans, green apples, grape skins, cauliflower, pomegranates, tea and coffee.
The Seven Colors Of The Rainbow – Fill your Plate with these colors. Food with deep rich color are leaders in healing and disease preventing antioxidants and phytonutrients!
- Red – raspberries apples, cherries, strawberries, pomegranates, tomatoes, watermelon, pink grapefruit, papayas, red bell peppers, chili peppers
- Orange – oranges, melons, mangoes, apricots, super potatoes, carrots,
- Yellow – lemons, bananas, pineapples, peaches, yams wash, four, yellow bell pepper
- Green – kiwi, apples, lime, spinach, lettuce, chard, arugula, kale, Swiss collards, broccoli, artichokes, asparagus, celery, avocado, zucchini, Brussels sprouts, green peas
- Blue – blueberries, plums
- Purple – purple grapes, red cabbage, beets, eggplant
- White – pears, coconuts, onion, garlic, cauliflower, parsnips, rutabagas
By including these tastes in every meal, your body will get all the nutrients it needs and your cravings for junk food will disappear.
Dr. Chopra says by following a daily routine with the rhythms of nature, we will enhance our digestive powers and promote balance of body and mind. These are Dr. Chopra’s tips for our daily routine…
- Begin the day with a light breakfast. You want to eat just enough so that you are hungry again at noon. We know that it takes at least three hours to digest a meal. You do not want to put the next meal in your stomach when you are still digesting the previous meal.
- Eat your largest meal at lunch. Your digestive powers are strongest at midday.
- Eat a light dinner early in the evening. Try for no later than 6 o’clock. It should be light compared to the midday meal. If you eat too close to bedtime, your body will be trying to digest food at a time when it should be slowing down for rest and sleep. This will interfere with the quality of your sleep and will also slow down your metabolism.
- Eat in moderation. As part of honoring your body’s rhythms, it’s important to enjoy food in moderation. Many of us have a distorted sense of portion size and we are consuming more calories than we need. To figure out your ideal portion based on your body size, cup your hands together with your fingertips touching to form a bowl. The recommended amount you should eat at a meal is the equivalent of two of these handfuls. It’s important to keep about one third of your stomach empty at the end of the meal to allow your digestive powers to work at an optimal level.
Dr. Chopra points out that we are never alone when it comes to struggling with our weight because of the challenges of modern day society, work and family. Willpower doesn’t work for the long term because it is forced. Self awareness is the key to weight loss because it transforms you from within. However, it will take some time and repetition of these techniques and habits to cause long-term imbalances to shift.
Dr. Chopra offers us these tools that will help us cope with cravings and urges…
- Always stop and ask yourself “What am I hungry for?”. Use this as your mantra. Use it as a conditioning technique that will break negative patterns and remind you to eat consciously. If you make this practice a habit, you will rewire your brain.
- When you feel a craving for the urge to eat, use this awareness recall method. Sit comfortably and begin by touching your forefinger to your thumb. Every time you feel a craving for food make this hand gesture. It’s called a mudra (mudrā ). As you hold this gesture, let it trigger the questions “What am I hungry for?, Am I famished? Am I comfortable? Uncomfortable? Is my stomach empty or am I just craving food because I am hungry for something else like attention, affection, appreciation, or am I bored?” and so on. With regular practice, everytime you do this mudra, those questions will come up. When you make it a habit, your brain will fire the proper signals to interrupt that pattern. This is called Neuro Associative conditioning and it is the way to fire the neurons together in our brains to break a pattern.
To watch What Are You Hungry For? in full, contact your local Public Broadcasting Station (PBS) for scheduled times. You may also be able to obtain Donor Gift Packages from The Chopra Center For Well-being of DVDs of the show as well as books, informational materials, learning tools and memberships by contacting WEDU , Tampa, Fl 33607, 800-515-9810 or by contacting your local PBS Station.
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