Are Thin People Required To Watch What They Eat?

Just like most Desi mothers, my visiting mother-in-law took over most of the cooking responsibility while she stayed here. My husband was delighted about getting to eat his mom’s cooking again! And I was pleased (touched, actually!)  for her readiness to eat completely plant-based, just like the two of us eat.

Now, that meant she had no  ZERO access to ghee, buttermilk and curd in our house – that stuff isn’t even shopped for! But she willingly came aboard. Fast forward six months, mom has gone back and here we are, savoring memories of her cooking and fun mealtimes we enjoyed together. Think baingan bharta and rotis, puliyogre with vegan thayir pachdi vegetable sevai with coconut chutney .. yummm!

And since I’ve gone back to being the Chef-In-Chief, old ways of eating are on again – baingan bharta is back to being oil-free, rotis are now zero-oil store bought tortillas, puliyogre has not been made at all yet, and vegetable salad – minus the curd – which is there e-v-e–r-y day, and vegetable sevai now doesn’t come with coconut chutney anymore! 🙂

My husband studiously looks at the food, takes a bite and wonders aloud, “we’re still well within the limits of ideal body weight, we don’t qualify as even being fat, why the hell are we watching what we eat??”

Hmm .. isn’t that a wonderful question. I bet you may have thought it too. I know a part of me still toys with this question when I see some of my favorite fried foods!

Here’s what the research says about it –

What we eat hugely determines how long we’re going to live (longevity)

It also determines whether or not we’re going to die of disease and disability (quality)

And this is true regardless of whether you are thin, heavy or well within the healthy range of weight for your height.

In our desperation to cling to the foods we like, we make very fundamental errors in understanding the basics of Nutrition. This happens not just with lay people, it’s unfortunately seen even in trained professionals. Sad but true.

Somehow, we’ve gotten to believe that only calories matter to our health – to the point of excluding everything else there is to Nutrition!

So, how does this belief or “understanding” play out?

Examples – “Reasoning”:

1. A low fat cheese or paneer sandwich made from brown bread and skimmed milk smoothie/coffee/tea – cheese or paneer is labelled low fat, brown bread is rich in fiber, and the beverage contains low fat skimmed milk – all well under 400-ish calories, therefore “healthy”.

2. One boiled egg and water – plain boiled egg is a maximum of about 100 calories, no salt, no oil, not even pepper – very very “healthy”.

3. Only ONE gobi paratha and simla mirch tomato sabji – made with whole wheat flour, no starchy vegetables like potato or anything, sabji is made of simla mirch and tomato – again, watery vegetables, using only about 3 tbsp of virgin olive oil in all – completely vegan, therefore “healthy”.

4. Skipping a meal or multiple meals and going back to eating one of the example meals described above, in STRICTLY custom-tailored amounts.

Studies have shown how even when people with diabetes were fed enormous amounts of food, their diabetes was reversed! Some studies were designed such that participants were not allowed to lose any weight, and in the process some of ended up gaining weight, but still they experienced significant and lasting disease reversal. Gives you an idea of how beneficial this kinda eating must be to those without the disease burden, isn’t it!

Are you curious what type of food was used in the studies?
It was an unrestricted amount of green leafy vegetables, starchy vegetables, whole grains, legumes and fruit. These just happen to be low in calories too, that’s all!

When you eat the right type of food, you never have to worry about starving yourself and skipping meals. You don’t have to count calories and restrict quantities. You can just eat till you’re comfortably full, meal after meal and day after day – yet lose weight!

When people mistakenly assume –

body weight (“I am underweight, I can afford to eat x, y or z”)

and calories ( so long as it’s not exceeding 1000 calories per day gimme anything! )

to dictate their food choices, they’re in essence assuming the tail of the elephant to be the elephant itself! It’s really no different than that.

Did you find this post useful? Are you feeling angry or sad upon reading it?

Share your thoughts in the comments below.

The Secret To Quitting Your Favorite Foods While Dieting

One of the most frequently asked questions am asked is, if I tell people to quit eating meat or dairy or some other food. The fact is, I don’t take any long term decisions for my clients. However, I do invite them to try quitting certain foods for a brief period just for the feel of it. I’ve a lot of dairy and meat loving clients that come to me. Most have complaints about stubborn body weight problems, irregular periods, acne, irregular bowel movement and so on. We have our customary on-boarding chat that goes something like this –

Them: “Girija, it’s just soo baffling to me how this weight thing is one problem that I can’t seem to handle ya. It feels like such a basic thing .. it’s food and exercise after all, but I don’t know what it is … it’s just – !”

Me: “I totally get it! You handle such big projects for your clients and accomplish such amazing stuff at your work, and all you do for the community, plus run the house .. but we all have one such thing where we feel perplexed .. just puzzled how nothing seems to work”

Them: “You really feel this weight thing can be dealt with?”

Me: ” I do feel like you have a fair chance .. are you open to taking guidance as part of working with me?

Them: “Of course .. but give me an example”

 Me: “Like, if I said please give up so and so food for a period of say – 10 days, would you be offended?”

Them: “LOL, I wouldn’t be offended .. but I love curd .. I mean I REALLY LOVE curd! And wait, I LOVE sea food, grilled chicken .. I REALLY REALLY LOVE meat”

Me: “LOL, It’s absolutely fine to love it all .. no need to stop loving it. But what if you just had to not eat it for a brief period of time?”

Them: “Ah, if I assume it’s pooja time, it’ll be possible. No problem!”

And they come aboard. When, time comes to actually quitting dairy for a period of time, there will be a slight feeling of anxiety and sadness but still they do it in keeping with the spirit of the program. In just few short days, I receive emails and messages that read like this –

This was exactly a month ago. In just four short weeks Mayura has lost over 10 pounds of weight and has completely turned around her way of eating. And above all else, she is HAVING FUN doing it. Yesterday, she sent me pictures of how she and a friend went out for pizza – she just asked for a pizza minus the cheese and had it made with hummus instead PLUS plenty of colorful veggies. And for dessert she had mango compote with chocolate.

She saw it first hand how, quitting dairy and meat not only did not feel as tough but it has greatly added to her sense of self-esteem. She now has a reference for both scenarios – how the body feels with and without dairy and meat. She is better equipped than ever before, to decide which way she wants to go.  The secret was in having the openness to giving up some food she liked, just for the experience of it. Developing that mindset is really the first step.

Truly empowering, isn’t it! It is a series of tiny actions of responsibility like the ones Mayura has taken, that make a person feel good when they look in the mirror.

Another big takeaway for you as a reader is this – when you are learning something new, you can accelerate the process significantly and get dramatic results when you have a tight feedback loop. Over a short period of one month, these tiny actions translate into tiny increments of weight loss, finally adds up to what is actually a massive weight loss sooner than you’d realize. This is what gives us a feeling of accomplishment.  We discuss a great deal about the dynamics of self-esteem and how it is built and our role in it.

I am immensely proud of you Mayu! She is a CEO and her multiple-award winning organization is doing some phenomenally good work in the area of craft – preservation and  creating livelihoods.

 

As always, a reminder to say – this post is a very generous share to inspire anyone that may identify with this story. These are not typical results and no big promises are being made via this post. Mayura is a real person, as am I  and she has worked very very hard for what she has got and continues to do so.

 I’d love for you to please congratulate her and ask me if you’ve any questions.

The Lure Of Food Versus Joy Of Health

 

When we first met, Nimisha was struggling with problems of skin, hair and low energy. She had scoured all the resources on internet and it had left her feeling miserable, angry and hurt. Above all else, confused! 

 
When the information shared has an agenda to fill the biz coffers primarily, it is hard to take a stand. There’s no option but to sway to the tunes of your next sponsors and their hype. This is the reality of the world we live in! And everyone of us is responsible for how things are today.
 
Nimisha is an industrious and intelligent lawyer turned educationist. She has other important roles play as a young mother, wife and daughter. She needs the energy to be be on the run for long stretches at time. And leading her to treat carbohydrates like her enemy caused her woes. To add to that, pushing more meat, more eggs, more dairy brought more new problems.
 
This post is for everyone that asks me – “Girija, do you ask people to give up meat?” Well, in principle I do not believe in taking decisions for others. Not even for my clients. And talking about meat, the world’s longest living people in the Blue Zone communities do eat meat. The question then would be how much and how often. Humans as a species are omnivores – there’s no denying this fact.  
 
All this said, in my program Mind Your Gap Master Your Plate does involve abstinence. My clients get amazing results and feel empowered to take their own long term decisions whether they want to go back to eating meat or not. 
 
I am curious to learn from my clients as much as they do from me. And I asked Nimisha how she was doing, with no meat. In her own words – “I am off dairy and any kind of meats and I am surprisingly doing good. In fact, I am eating normally without worrying about a thousand things before putting the food in my mouth”  
 
You may wonder how do people sustain giving up things like dairy and meat? The joy of vibrant skin and lovely hair is sustainable. Boundless energy to do the work that you are passionate about is very sustainable. The lure of addictive foods that do not serve our nutritional needs doesn’t hold up in comparison to the joy of health. I invite you to try it for yourself!
 
Nimisha is affectionately called Nims. Nims, I am very very proud of you. May you be well, may you be healthy – now and always!
 
Please note – neither Nims nor I, we have no obligation to share this – her personal story with the world. It is out of genuine intention to inspire other women who may be in a similar situation, that we have let you in on some highlights of our journey together. Questions are welcome but please be kind. Compliments are even more welcome! 🙂  
 

Here’s What I’d Alert You About Food Cravings

I had three people share their stories with me last week. Different people at different ages, distinctly different situations and one common thread. Read it for yourself to see what I mean.

I’ll call this newly minted PhD, new-to-workforce girl in her late 20 s, Rima. She had taken special effort to get her eating in place over the two month gap she had, before joining for work. It had gone wonky during her student days, when she was seriously time-strapped and overwhelmed with the number of things she had to get done. Her doctoral thesis, teaching assignment, stressful relationships at college – with all this and more, there was very little time and energy to even eat. Let alone cook! If and when she ate, it was veggie puff, chips, samosa and some aerated drink – pretty much the kinda stuff one finds in a not so well stocked canteen. Over the two months, she had brought it to breakfast, lunch and dinner – all on time, loaded with vegetable and fruit. She had lost up to ten kilos already, by way of eating healthy (and letting go of stress and catching up on sleep, in her words). She had to attend this five day conference shortly after joining work. On her first day at the venue, when she saw platters of all the familiar college food – now beautifully arranged in a star-hotel banquet, she was drawn to it. Next five days were all about Dahi vadas with sev and boondhi garnished with coriander and grated carrot, samosas with an assortment of gourmet fruit chutneys, colorful vegetable chips – not just boring potato wafers – she was pleased! She finished her presentations, made new friends and got home feeling accomplished. When she routinely checked her weight on the following day, she had gained five kilos in just a week.

Ann (not her real name) is a woman in her fifties. At this point in life, she is big on her hobbies and socializing outside of her work. And she is also very careful about her health, eating right, exercising and all that. She has a big love for sweets and desserts but she has kept it out entirely, and successfully so for over six months now. She ran into an old friend who runs a pastry shop recently. This friend lovingly cut a very very tiny piece of a pastry at her birthday party, just about a spoonful – and fed Ann, just like she did with others in her little circle of friends. However, this little spoonful has wreaked a havoc as far as Ann is concerned. She is gripped by this sugar fiend and wants her sweet fix at the end of every meal, like before. She had not had it in six months! But the recent experience has renewed her earlier association with sweets and she’s stunned with how strongly she craves sweets at every meal now, all over again.

Lakshmi (not her real name) is a photographer. Until recently she was mostly into baby pictures. Given how much she loves books in her spare time, a friend asked her if she would be interested in food photography for her new cook book. Lakshmi happily agreed. Now, Lakshmi is extremely surprised how she has fallen in love – not just with food photography, but with the food itself. She was not big into eating, cooking or anything to do with food earlier. So, I asked her what this new cookbook was all about, that led her to fall so hopelessly in love. It was all about cheese based cooking for home chefs. What was surprising to Lakshmi was that, the assignment is long over now, but all she has to do is just recollect that experience or see one of the many pictures she clicked of the pizzas, cheesecakes or cheese dosa – that’s it. It will be a full blown urge to eat a pizza! She finds herself ordering for home delivery several times a week and she laughs how her spending on pizzas and pastas have even exceeded the fee she received for the assignment already.

Now, have you identified the common thread? Cravings!

Certain foods are definitely addictive by nature.

Much like any other addiction, just one time of eating these foods, why – just even thinking of them, seeing them in pictures, talking about them, watching television shows of cooking them – is enough to trigger a strong urge to eat, inside your head. Given how slippery and slope-y this terrain is, even one time of indulging, even in moderation or just one teeny weeny mouthful can undo your efforts of several months and take you back to square one.

It helps to figure out what kind of cues trigger you the most. And then, come up with creative solutions to eliminate them altogether.

For instance, if seeing food pictures cause you a temptation, stop bringing such items into your space. Be sure not to see them anywhere – not even on your smartphone, news feed or computer.

I tend to get triggered by aromas of food. So, I carry an essential oil inhaler, much like a tube of Vicks inhaler, only difference being, mine is a lemony citrussy fragrance that calms my nerves and centers me. So, I excuse myself from the place and often this alone does the trick. Sometimes I may use my handy aromatherapy inhaler. Roll on perfumes made of essential oil blends and smelling salts made with herbs and/or essential oils work fabulously too.

Another very effective fix would be to find something creative to do with your hands. Like coloring, for instance. Have you observed the boom in adult coloring books in recent times? A similar outcome is reported by people who do the zentangles. It takes your mind away from eating for wrong reasons and addictive foods. Carrying a small sketch pad and pen in your bag is all it takes.

Now, this is what I’d like to know from you – how does your craving show up for you and what do you do about it?

Is it like, you’ll be thumbing through a magazine food column and suddenly you get up and get started with cooking a “sinfully good” recipe. Or aromas from your next door neighbor’s kitchen hit your nose and out of no where you have the urge to eat something that you’re trying to avoid. Or just the memory of a pastry is enough to get you started ?!

Share away in the comments.

 

Fix This ONE Thing To Get A Handle On Your Cravings

This woman who got on the Mumbai train had an unusually large bag for a work commute. The last stop at VT was about an hour away, maximum. Thankfully, the train wasn’t as full and she found place for herself and the bag. She quickly opened a box and hurriedly ate up a vada-pav neatly packed in a steel box. I was speaking on my phone all along as I observed all this. As soon as I was done with the phone call, I got chatting with her as that little steel box had caught my attention.

The lady loved that I appreciated her box and meticulous packing – definitely not a norm for a regular commuter – and showed me her other boxes. She then casually mentioned her efforts to eat home cooked food. She did not want to end up diabetic like her siblings who eat most meals outside. So, she had employed a cook who, in her words “makes everything from chips, sev-mixture, puris for chaat, at home – healthily”.  And she carries two snacks and two larger meals so she doesn’t feel tempted to eat outside. ‘How lovely’, I remarked and before I could say another word, she broke into an impish smile and said, ‘I still buy a quarter kilo of cake and some chocolates from my colleague every week – she’s also just like me, likes to make everything at home and we work in the same office – it’s a great arrangement!’

Well, well well! 🙂 How many assumptions did you count already?

Everything/anything home cooked = healthy

Vada pav, cake, chocolates, made at home – therefore healthy = okay to eat several times a day

If one is eating homemade parathas for breakfast, vada pav for a mid-morning snack, some roti-sabji for lunch, vada pav again at tea time and roti-sabji for a quick dinner – part 1, with several rounds of chai and small tiny helpings of cake and chocolates in between to keep the cravings at bay – one is certainly eating a good quantity of food. And if it’s all homemade, it certainly hygienic in some sense. I am not disputing that at all.

Craving for food is not entirely taken care of by quantity and or frequent eating. This is a huge assumption and a flawed one at that.

Our bodies are designed to keep track of quality and quantity of the food we put in our mouths. This means that both conditions must be satisfied for the body to register satiety. This is why eating stuff like vada pav and sev mixture, cakes, chocolate and bhel puri will cause cravings. Why, you may ask. Though they all contain some healthy ingredients in them, but their overall quality as the final product does not add up to anything much – even though it was all made at home. Our body craves for nourishment in the form of vitamins and minerals, it’s not asking us to fill up some empty space with edible things. Paying attention to fix the nutritive quality of food we eat, is absolutely critical! It’s not about buying organic vegetables to make veggie chips or vadas out them.

Eating a boiled or steamed or baked potato is not the same as eating a deep fried vada.

Whole wheat is not the same nutritionally, as wheat flour used in roti or all purpose flour used in cake.

A sprinkling of grated carrot, cucumber and tomato et al in bhel puri will not make up for all the oily sev and puris.

Do you see what I’m saying?

All the sugar, oil and salt in these foods plus the processing involved, and the cooking method – makes the vada cause more craving! The very food that we eat to battle our craving causes more of it.

With what you know now, from reading this post, what would you suggest to the train lady if she were to ask you? Share away in the comments.

The Power Of Choice

 
A nurse in palliative care took notes and recorded the regrets of dying people in the last twelve weeks of their lives. After doing this for many many years with that many people, she observed how there was a pattern emerging in what they had shared with her. She put it all in a book titled The Top Five Regrets Of The Dying, which has been translated in 29 languages and read by millions around the world. The nurse’s name and the author of the book is Bronnie Ware. 
 
One of the top five regrets expressed by them was – ‘I wish I had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me’. 
 
These words have a familiar ring to them for me when it comes to matters of food. Since I turned vegan close to ten years ago, I have interacted with a lot of people who have made a similar choice. And almost every single one of them wished – including myself – we had the courage to adopt a food choice that was true to who we are at heart, earlier in life. 
 
Now, pleeeease understand, I’m not imposing my choices of anything – let alone food – on anyone here. But I will say, wake up and realize that you do have a choice. You get to choose what you want to put in your mouth in the name of food. Claim your power.
 
Food you put in your body influences you at a very deep level. And if you are going to operate from a place of habit, at least make sure it’s serving you.
 
You need to take control of not only what you will eat, but also of how it is grown, who cooks it and how it is cooked. The world over, we as women have been the primary cooks within the family unit. Did we see it as our power? Until very recently we did, and this is fast eroding.
We are now outsourcing cooking at many levels – home-cooking to cooks, increased dependency on restaurants, food vendors and other food service providers, and ultimately to giant food corporations who serve us everything from our highly processed breakfast cereals to gooey chocolaty or sugary bed time drinks and everything in between – cookies, chips and whatnot.
 
In a book titled Cooked, the author Michael Pollan argues how reclaiming the control over our cooking is the single biggest thing one can do to rebuild our health – not just our own but of the family and the community at large. 
 
Even more fascinating is the insight as to how the Food Industry got its foot inside the kitchen door. Most women – this is true world over – held on to their responsibility of cooking for family the longest. We were happy to hand over the cleaning chores much more readily. But cooking was and still is perceived meditative and comforting. 
 
But when our negotiating for better labor division kinda got louder and with the eavesdropping food industry lurking by, it saw an opportunity. And acted upon it without wasting any time. And it “uses” feminism and women’s liberation to sell us convenience. What it actually is, is hyper-stimulating highly processed foods.
 
To recognize this, you need to develop awareness. And call upon the wisdom to pause. Wisdom to observe. And then you get to stand in your power and eat by choice.  

The Wisdom Of Observation

 

 
One of the most difficult things is pausing. When it comes to matters about  food, pausing feels near impossible. This is owing to the fact that we all feel very strong sense of anxiety, even just thinking of it. And even when the pause is only a matter of seconds. Somehow, the conditioning is such that state of not DO-ing or just BE-ing brings feelings of guilt and inadequate-ness upon us.
 
But the invitation to pause comes with an irresistible promise. See what Victor Frankl says about it – “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and freedom.”
 
This kinda seals the deal right? We must learn to pause. And this means you must learn to observe the anxiety that shows up when you stop any DO-ing. 
 
What then is the wisdom in observing?
 
In learning to observe, you develop a subject-object relationship to that which you are observing.
 
What does this mean?
 
Let’s say, you get an urge to eat a piece of chocolate. And very wisely, you pause. Now, you’re observing feelings of sadness come up within you. This makes you the observer, a subject. And the feeling of sadness is what you’re seeing – which is the object.
 
This is the first step to distance yourself from the feeling. Because really, you are not your feelings or your thoughts. You have the power over what you think which gives you the power over what you feel. 
 
Reflect upon this for a moment.
 
Now, when you go a step further and tweak your language,
 
you’d NO LONGER SAY – ‘I am sad’ 
 
instead you WOULD SAY – ‘I am thinking sad thoughts’ 
 
This means, you choose to think happy thoughts. And this would very likely change the way you are feeling.
 
Dr. Joe Dispenza says, “Ninety-five percent of who you are by the time you’re 35 years old is a set of memorized behaviors, skills, emotional reactions, beliefs, perceptions, and attitudes that functions like a subconscious computer program”
 
This leads us to conclude how important it is to develop observation as a skill. Because it is the act of observing which will help you hold it together through what may be very brief but common unpleasant aftermath of pausing.

The Wisdom Of Pause

 
 
Let me start this post with an offering of a poem by Martha Postlewaite. It’s titled Clearing.
 
Clearing
 
Do not try to save
the whole world
or do anything grandiose.
Instead, create
a clearing
in the dense forest
of your life
and wait there
patiently,
until the song
that is your life
falls into your own cupped hands
and you recognize and greet it.
Only then will you know
how to give yourself
to this world
so worth of rescue.
 
Create a clearing in the dense forest of your life … this is exactly what I mean when I say – pause. There is wisdom to pausing.
 
Have you seen how an artist steps back from time to time and takes in all he has done, before proceeding?
 
This act of taking a step back is a learned skill and a deliberate practice. It is part of the painting process itself.
 
Just like how gaps between the two musical notes is part of the composition itself. 
 
Are you wondering  to yourself  ‘what’s all _this_ got to do with food?’
 
Well, pausing – whether to check if your urge to eat something is worth acting upon, if yes – how much of it, when, is your hunger satiated, to appreciate, to say thanks for the food – all these lie within the realm of pause.
 
If you’re going to stick the food in your mouth instantly upon sighting it, smelling it or desiring it – without pausing, you’re robbing yourself of an opportunity to evaluate it.
 
When you observe someone who relishes their food, or eat in alignment with their goals, or values eating to support life as opposed to living to eat – they would have invariably mastered the skill of pausing.
 
A pause gives you those precious few moments to reflect upon your choices and actions, helping you to navigate the course better. In a way this is to say, each time you pause, it puts you in power.
 
If you have ever felt how you feel powerless around food, get into the habit of pausing from time to time. 
 
Reflect upon your longing to eat that cookie, check if you really want to.
 
Gaze at the food in front of you. Do you like how it looks? 
 
Stop after every few spoonfuls or mouthfuls. Do you want to eat some more? Do you need to eat some more?
 
Reconnect with yourself.
 
Pause.
 
 
Pause. Reflect upon the longing to eat.
 
Pause. Appreciate the food in front of you.
 
Pause. Relish the feel of food and its taste in your mouth.
 
Pause. Check to see if you’re feeling full.
 
Pause. Give thanks for the food you just ate.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

What Nobody Ever Explained To You About Protein

Let me tell you a story of some guests we had, when I was growing up in India. The man and his wife were both medical doctors and they were visiting, with their two little children. And they lived abroad. Ours was a vegetarian household, by which I mean dairy was the only animal sourced food we made at home. If and when we wanted a treat, it was pastries and that sorta thing. And we (including my orthodox grandparents) pretended that cakes and ice creams did not contain anything more than just dairy 😉
 
Well, coming back to the story – this visiting family would hurriedly go shopping to buy a mid-sized box of protein powder to last their stay – to add to the milk the kids would drink religiously three times a day. Three big glassfuls. Those kids were such willing milk-drinkers. So strange! And their mom would talk endlessly about all she did to meet their protein needs. Breaking the family “rules” to cook eggs at home, buying the super expensive protein-biscuits for the snacks and whatnot. For the little girl in me, this got registered in my head as protein was a very precious part of food. And that we had to make effort to get plenty of it, if we cared for our health. And those that did not do it, were somehow less than! Either they were poor and or did not know enough.
Ouch.
How it hurts to admit even if it is to ourselves that we cannot afford something or that we may not be knowledgeable, no?! 
 
Then fast forward to about 15 years in time …
 
Now, I was a dietitian. I worked at a hospital. I belonged with a team of medical doctors. And I engaged with clients as part of work. And I was privy to literally thousands of people and their stories about food. It was just so insightful to me how, we – you, myself and all of us for that matter – come to place the value on different foods. 
 
It is not all about the science and/or nutrition. Often, it has very little to do with nutritive value. It is so much about what our food choices say about us, to the world. 
 
It spoke volumes when a client said, ‘we make our ganji with water .. and softly add, not milk’. Or when someone said, ‘ We eat egg-bhurji or paneer-bhurji with rotis, we need not make do – you know!’ One can never discuss foods in isolation with feelings tied to them. 
 
It sounds so good to say, you made a paneer-something to go with the rotis.
 
Or that, Maharaj served you some egg whites with brown bread.
 
Or how you bought your ailing elderly in-laws some protein powder to add to the milk.
 
We all do things that make us feel safe. That make us look good to others. And it is okay! But, only so long as you don’t attach a justification – especially the ones that don’t make sense. And go one step even further and believe it to be a fact! Nooo, don’t do that.
 
If you like paneer, eat it because you like it. And say so! It needs no further props.
 
DON’T say or believe that you need to add paneer or egg whites or a special protein powder to your regular food as if there’s a shortage of protein in what you eat.
 
Here’s what  nobody ever explained to you about protein:
 
Protein is the widely and abundantly found in nature. 
 
If you are eating enough to satiate your hunger, you are extremely likely meeting all your protein needs. 
 
 
    

What Nobody Tells You About Emotional Eating

Are you someone or do you know someone who has a rather stressed relationship with food? Are you someone or do you know someone that uses food to deal with stressful situations? And not even realize it??

This could have happened to most of us as a one off thing – as children, during growing up years do we recollect a time when we were given food to comfort us? Or as young adults we would have resorted to some kinda ‘comfort food’ to comfort ourselves at some point to tide over a stressful situation. But what if it becomes a regular thing with us?

Given the amount of confusion there is around food nowadays, there are many many women who are perpetually stressed over what to eat.

Oh, this fruit? Now?? It causes me cold.

Oh, that vegetable causes me gas.

No, I can’t be eating this rice – of all things – and ruin my sleep with guilt.

And they go back to square #1 – just WHAT do I eat?

As if this were not enough, there are twice as many more that eat – because they are stressed.

Oh, diet be damned, I am feeling LOW today. One small samosa cannot hurt.

Oh it’s my hard-earned bonus day, my dear! What’s a celebration without some chocolate!

After few minutes of feeling great about the treat, they feel guilty aka ‘stressed’ and reach for that chocolate all over again.

Aparna is a phenomenally brilliant finance professional. She is a marathon runner and long distance cyclist. A thriver in every sense of the word. The kind of diligence it all takes to balance grueling workouts with her high-power position at work and run a home, is not for the ordinary. She wanted to examine her behavior around matters of food and intuitively joined the program.

There have been many many success stories that came from the simple act of keeping a Food Journal. Probably hers is the most remarkable of them all. Every step was a revelation of sorts for her.

The results in this case were more qualitative by nature. She had completely gotten a handle over her emotional eating, even by the second week of the program. No more asking google about ‘how to eat healthy’ or checking for ‘what happens if I ate blah blah and blah’. She’s able to take sound decisions around food suit her sporty lifestyle. Often stops by to say how empowered she feels about herself. And how she’s respectful of the food and her body.

Aparna speaks for me when she says, Mind Your Gap is a fantastic program for someone who is mature and ready to put in the work. That’s true, this is not for people who desire overnight results MINUS any self-reflection or size zero body stats!

What’s your  takeaway from this story?

May your #1 lesson be this: Emotional eating in today’s world is not so much about your emotional brokenness and/or emotional highs and lows – it’s about the environment.

We all live in a world where our food environment has been rigged. Unfortunately for us, while it serves some vested interests, it works entirely against us. And within this environment, it doesn’t take a lot of stress to make emotional eaters out of the best of us!  Let me illustrate what I mean by this. When a food vendor grates an extra block of cheese onto your sandwich (or even a dosa these days!) it helps him and his shop gain popularity – with your up votes – for his tasty food. How is it serving you or your health beyond those few minutes of pleasure while eating that? Hmm .. highly questionable. On the other hand, are you drawn to his shop and sandwich with that generous cheese topping again and again? Very likely! What if every vendor and food maker in the world uses food as a bait to get your business? Do you see the point? Will power doesn’t take you anywhere given vice-like grip this food wields over you.

When you finally internalize this fact, you’ll take notice of what you put in your mouth. Until then, you are loyally serving somebody’s else’s interest and not even realizing how dearly it is costing you.

Fact: Neither of us has a compulsion to sharing this story with the world. That said, Aparna and I both realize the power of stories like these, upon which the takeaways stand. It’s her utter purity of intention to reach someone that may be in a similar situation which inspires me to let you in on some highlights of this journey.

 

Request: Please remember, people mentioned in this story are real people in flesh and blood. With a beating heart and feelings. Be gentle with us. Questions and comments are fine so long as they are respectful.

 

Disclaimer: This is no promise of results. Outcomes depend on any number of factors and each person and situation is unique.

Mind Your Gap Master Your Plate is coming up. Want in?