I’m eating a lot of kale these days. I ate an entire bunch yesterday, just by myself.
Which is apparently a good thing, because it’s being exalted as the biggest Super food since, well, blueberries. Packed with nutrients, fiber, antioxidants kale is everything a chicken McNugget is not.
Still, anything gets a little old and tiresome after three days straight and that’s how long I’ve been eating kale – with a little lettuce, some apples and pears thrown in. It’s part of a 10-day detox I started a week ago.
For weeks, I’d been gulping down food, grabbing snacks, eating whatever food I could find in the middle of the day — not really paying attention to what I was putting in my body. I decided to use this detox program to help me become more aware of what I’m eating and how I’m eating it.
How the detox works
I’m working with a coach (Sherri, Mission of Nutrition) and each day calls for the elimination of particular food group until your down to, well, kale and other cruciferous vegetables. Then, your liver gets a few days break from the meats and processed foods and sugars and other stuff it filters and you begin to gradually add foods back in, while paying careful attention to how they affect you. After a detox program like this, many people decide to permanently go gluten free, or vegetarian. They decide to limit their sugar intake and eat more greens, because they feel so good without the garbage they are used to eating.
I’m not sure what I’ll add back in yet, but I’m surprised that I haven’t missed coffee, (which seriously is one of my favorite foods), all that much. I have missed cheese (?!) weird since I don’t eat all that often. I have not been troubled by the influx of vegetables and legumes (feeling fine). In fact, this process has been interesting and easier than expected.
One of the great benefits is, that I’ve decided, that I like being told what to eat. I don’t have to come up with meal ideas, there isn’t a lot of cooking. All have to do is follow directions. That’s a nice break from planning regular meals.
One of the great discoveries has been is how mindlessly I eat. I’ll grab a cracker, while putting them in my daughter’s lunch. I’ll be onto a second helping before noticing that I’ve eaten the first. I’ll grab a fistful of something from the fridge and it eat at my desk without even thinking about the food. Then, I tend to overeat at the next meal, because I’m unsatisfied and hungry. Detoxing has helped me clearly see my eating habits. And, I’ve decided to change them.
Mindfulness eating can make a healthy difference
As with any spiritual growth, mindfulness – the act of paying attention in each moment – is the key here and part of what I was missing at my meals.
Eating is definitely a spiritual act. We do it to nourish our bodies, and for enjoyment.
But, if there’s a disconnect between the mind/body/spirit – if you’re feeding yourself without joy or awareness or even gratitude for the food; if you feel owned by the food and you plan your day around your next meal; there’s an imbalance in that mind/body/spirit connection. When this occurs you’re more apt to overeat or to eat without pleasure, you’re more likely to fill your body with the wrong stuff for the wrong reasons.
When one aspect of ourselves is out of balance, we struggle in other areas. Obviously our health and energy is compromised. But, our focus and concentration is also limited, patience takes dive, our productivity drops and we feel less peaceful, more stressed out. Any imbalance in the body, impacts spirit and mind. An imbalance in the spirit causes changes in behavior and mood. It’s all linked.
What this week has reminded me of is how good I feel when there’s a balance between my physical, spiritual, and mental dimensions. And mindful eating is a way to bring those together.
I’m not sure which foods I’ll add back in when I finish this cleanse. You do not have to take on a restrictive diet to eat mindfully. But no matter what I’m eating, I know that I’m going to slow down and pay attention. I’ll appreciate the food in a new way, pause to consider how it makes my body feel and run and think. And allow myself time to enjoy it one kale leaf at time.
Photo by: Stock.xchng