The Yoga of Food and Mindful Eating

The Yoga of Food and Mindful Eating


When you think about advancing your yoga practice, do core strength, handstands and binds come to mind? Perhaps you think of building up your breath work or finding a more focused mental state in your practice. What about advancing your practice OFF the mat every time you eat?

As a yoga teacher I feel it is my responsibility to educate my students to apply their yoga to all aspects of their life. As a health coach, I want my students to bring their practice off the mat and onto their plate, by adopting mindfulness practices with their everyday food choices.

Here are six practices that I teach my clients to nourish their body, use food as fuel and develop a healthy relationship with food.

1)Slow Down & Chew

Digestion begins when you chew. Not only does chewing break down your food for easier digestion, when you chew you release saliva, which contains digestive enzymes. Be especially mindful of this when you are really hungry. When we wait long periods between meals, we tend to eat faster, so slow your roll, take some pauses between bites, put the fork down and breathe.

2)Lose the distractions

It’s so easy to partake in mindless eating because there is no shortage of distractions in today’s modern world. Whether it be eating while watching TV, scrolling social media, online shopping or even driving, its become commonplace to multi-task while eating. Try eating while doing nothing else, notice the taste of your food and savor every bite!

3)Mind Your Portions

Here’s an easy way to remember portion sizes, or an appropriate serving at a meal by using the size of your hand:

Non starchy vegetables: 2 heaping handfuls
Starchy vegetables, grains or beans: The size of your fist
Fruit: The size of your fist
Meat, Poultry or Seafood : The size of your palm without your fingers
Nuts: The amount that covers your palm without your fingers
Oils: The size of your thumb

If you are snacking, portion out the amount of snack you want, rather than bringing the box or bag along with you in front of the TV, this is shown to help reduce the quantity of food eaten in one sitting. When you eat food in proper portions, not only is it easier to digest, it’s less likely to spike your blood sugar, leaving you with a crash and cravings to follow shortly after.

4)Balance Your Plate

It’s recommended for good health that you eat 5-8 servings of vegetables and fruit each day. However, over 80% of Americans don’t eat enough of these foods on average. Make vegetables the centerpiece of each meal, then work grains and protein around that. When you pair vegetables with these foods, it will help digestion and you’ll be reducing your disease risk by making this a habit.

5)Acknowledge how your food got to your plate

Building awareness around the source and the journey of your food can help to reduce eating processed foods and foods that were sourced inhumanely. If you imagine that the food you eat carries the energy of the journey it took getting to your plate, you are much more likely to want to consume whole, plant-based foods or animal products that have been humanely raised. Before you take a first bite, express gratitude for the food on your plate.

6)Stop at 80% Full

It takes your brain about twenty minutes to recognize the fullness of your belly when you eat a meal. When you have a full stomach, your body releases chemicals that your brain then recognizes as you being full, but it doesn’t happen instantly. So when you eat quickly, it’s easy to overeat. By slowing down you can decrease the likelihood of this. Also, if you stop when you are 80% full, within twenty minutes you should feel full, without being overstuffed.

Try bringing ahimsa, aparigraha, saucha, santosha and svadhyaya into your nutritional choices and the way you eat. Incorporating your yoga practice into your meals will not only support your overall health but help you build the best relationship possible to food.