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Mindful Eating
by Antionetta Vicario



Editor's Note from Brooke Nisbet: Practicing yoga is not only about becoming more flexible or getting "yoga butt", but also about achieving deeper mindfulness. Yoga reminds you to not just go about your day on autopilot mindlessly driving to work, doing your job, grabbing food to go and then going home. Practicing yoga also builds your capacity to become more mindful in all that you do. Noticing a flower or slowing down at the yellow light instead of speeding through. Paying attention to what's going on around you, and soaking it in and noticing how or if it affects you. This holds true for eating as well. This article discusses the importance of being mindful about what you're putting in your body and why. Will you take the author up on her challenge?

I grew up first generation in an old-school Italian household where pastries for breakfast, pasta for lunch and more pasta for dinner were the main food groups.  Not only was “Clean your plate” the understood in relationship to portion control, but it was more like “Back for seconds… and sometimes thirds.”  While I most certainly enjoy a bowl of pasta from time to time now, thankfully vegetables, fruits, whole grains and protein are the new staples of my diet; yet the biggest challenge that lingers from my childhood is portion control and managing cravings.  My practice of developing mindfulness which began on the yoga mat and has spread into other aspects of life has been the biggest tool in being able to somewhat manage these cravings and experience satiety.

As a holistic health counselor, I work with clients to create more mindful relationships to eating, often uncovering the ways that our food choices are related to emotions. As yogi’s, I know we have all experienced the profound effects of a mindfulness practice and extending this mindfulness towards food consumption only further extends our health and well-being.

Taking the time to take a few conscious breaths before a meal, to choose food wisely, to taste and chew food thoroughly and putting your fork or spoon down between bites can radically shift your relationship to food.  When I first started watching myself while eating, I was amazed by how fast I could polish off a meal.  I catch myself eating while doing work, eating while on the go, or just simply eating without being involved in the process of eating.  I noticed how when I overbooked myself or felt down, I turned to sugar and/or caffeine for a pick me up.  I also noticed how susceptible to overeating I became when my emotional well being was fragile.

Mindful eating can be an exceptional way to manage cravings and portion control.  Enjoying a piece of chocolate and savoring each bite might help you eat a wedge and not a whole bar.  Putting your fork down between bites and chewing more might help you actually feel full without overeating.

So I challenge you- spend one week extending your mindfulness practice into your food intake.  Take the time to taste your food, chew your food and be present with each bite.  When you have a craving ask yourself where this craving comes from and see if what you really need is to call a friend or take a yoga class.  But most of all enjoy eating by being involved with the tastes, textures and nourishment you are giving your body and see if anything comes up!  Good luck and happy mindful eating!

-Antonietta Vicario

An easy to make, healthy and very portable lunch recipe!

Chickpea Salad:

Ingredients (serves 2)

* 1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas or 1 15-oz. can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
* 1/2 6-oz. jar water-packed artichoke hearts, rinsed, drained, and sliced
* 1/2 cup small pear or grape tomatoes, halved or quartered
* 1/3 cup chopped pitted kalamata olives, optional
* 1/4 cup chopped cucumbers
* 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
* 1/4 cup prepared balsamic vinaigrette or Lemon-Basil Vinaigrette
* 2 cups baby arugula
* 1 oz. crumbled feta cheese, optional


1. Toss together chickpeas, artichoke hearts, tomatoes, cucumbers, olives (if using), and parsley in bowl.

2. Toss chickpea mixture with vinaigrette, then stir in arugula and feta, if using. Season with lemon, salt and pepper, if desired.

If you enjoyed this article you may also be interested in our Healing Recipes and Holistic Nutrition communities.



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About the Author

Antonietta Vicario is a holistic health counselor, yoga teacher and fitness instructor. She began her professional career as a dancer and choreographer in New York City in 2000 and her background in movement led her to become a health and wellness expert! She teaches fitness classes at Physique 57, yoga classes at Om Yoga Center and is a nutrition counselor licensed through The Institute for Integrative Nutrition, certified by SUNY Purchase College of New York. For more information on the author, please visit her website: www.antoniettavicario.com.





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