Monthly Archives: May 2012

Eating for Pitta

When I feel anxious I usually turn to my kitchen. I know my food cravings are largely emotional, so I’ve decided to look to Ayurvedic medicine–an Indian practice of treating the mind and body–for my calming solution.

Several years ago, I visited one of the most well-known Ayurveda centers in the world: The Ayurveda Institute. I was referred to a highly recommended Ayurvedic doctor, who explained there are three essential constitutions–I think of it as types of energy but I know it’s more than that–a person can have (a combination of these is also possible): Vata aka air, Kapha aka water and Pitta aka fire. You must know your constitution to understand what your body has in excess. After this, the imbalance can be treated.

For example, I am Pitta (fire) therefore I need to work on cultivating Kapha (water). I went to The Ayurvedic Institute to treat an acidic stomach. The herbs and dietary recommendations I was prescribed helped me. Since I am a fire-y person I was told to wear blue, say relaxing mantras and eat foods that lacked the usual spice I crave. The idea that what we crave to eat is bad for us was a new idea for me; when I crave a food sometimes I wonder if it’s because of a nutritional imbalance whereas in this tradition the craved food is the result of excess.

So this week I am consulting a book I bought at the institute, Ayurveda and the Mind, to cultivate balance. I will let you know my results.

You can learn what your constitution is by going here.


Eating for Stress Cues

The other day I told my husband I believe I eat too much food out of stress and his response was, “I didn’t know you’re unhappy.” I’m not unhappy–ever since we had our second child in February, I’ve been at my happiest. But I think it’s a common misconception, stay-at-home moms aren’t supposed to experience stress, right? We are with the people we love more than the world 24/7 so how do we know anxiety. Our Western culture is also so enamored with money that the non-money producing spouse is often seen as having the easier, cushier job because we have no economic power. Yet, to care and love for a child means HAVING AN EMOTIONAL INVESTMENT a.k.a. giving a shit about our kids’ well being and that’s where stress sometimes enters the picture for me.

So, I’m trying to breakdown when I get stressed out so I can become more aware of my emotional eating triggers. Basically, I’ve noticed three situations so far where I want to down all the chocolate hidden in our kitchen pantry:

1) We are running late for an appointment in the outside world and my oldest daughter is not cooperating or the baby needs a diaper change, feeding, etc.

2) One of my kids is hurt, emotionally or physically.

3) I cannot get two minutes to myself as in I haven’t been able to keep the door closed when I go to the bathroom because somebody is asking for something from me.

According to a book review I read in the Wall Street Journal here, cortisol (stress hormone levels) rise in men and women when they feel anxious or under pressure and that causes a propensity to eat junk food. Totally been there.

So the next time I’m late for my daughter’s doctor’s appointment I’m gonna keep a closer eye on my trigger hand and make sure it doesn’t find its way to the pumpkin seeds. Or, try my hardest in the moment because most of the snacks I down I’m not even really tasting.

What about you? Do you know your emotional eating cues?

Eating for caloric intake

As promised, I began keeping a food journal and it’s already been gratifying! When I went to grab my morning snack of toasted pumpkin seeds, imagine my utter dismay upon realizing a 1/4th cup serving provided me with over 300 calories. Insanity! Next when ordering lunch I looked up the dressing on the Internet and that alone added an additional twenty grams of fat. Lesson learned–hidden calories and fat are abundant even in so-called “healthy” foods.

One cup of pumpkin seeds=1,200 calories, almost as many calories as I am supposed to consume in a day!

Eating for Power

As a stay-at-home mom I don’t always feel like I have power outside my household. Frankly, I don’t even feel like I have power to take a shower when I want or sit down and relax. The problem is sometimes I don’t like feeling powerless, even when the lack of power is my doing–me saying I want to put my kids first–and I turn to food.

I am powerless, half of the time, to culinary temptation.

I can’t always DO what I want or get my family to behave accordingly to plan so I eat. At least I can choose what food goes in my mouth.

Of course, this power is the kind that ultimately makes me feel like a failure. I look at myself and feel like a sub-par wife/mom/friend/daughter because I’m overweight so when I go out in the world I feel even more powerless.

But I am not a victim: I’m guilty too.

Guilty of not treating my kids and husband with the respect they deserve all the time. I feel powerless so I make them feel powerless too by not listening fully. Certainly, not doing justice to the ideals of attachment parenting. Sometimes I feel like I’m 85% great at fully supporting my children’s needs but that other 15% potential gets wasted. I’m too in my head and not present enough to always parent fully.

Do other moms feel this way too? Because for me the problem isn’t just about eating too much food–that’s more of a symptom–and if I can somehow work out this issue with my weight I truly think I’ll improve as a mom.

Power, it’s what we have as consumers of food and also what we have as parents. I love the idea of attachment parenting because it has to do with not making kids feel powerless. I don’t want my daughters to feel any more powerless then the world already does. As a person so entirely grateful for the gift that is my children not making them feel powerless seems like the least I should do.

Eating for 1,2,3

So as a weight loss hopeful, I regularly tune into Dr Oz and when he announced on Twitter that people who count calories lose twice as much as those who don’t, well, it made me want to join the counting team. So here goes 1234 calories..that’s what tap and track says I need to eat to lose one-two pounds this week and includes the 300 calories extra I need for breastfeeding. Are you counting calories too? Has it been helpful?

Eating for tranquility

My goal this week is to focus on appreciating my food (i.e. reducing my intake) by eating slowly. Between nursing, cleaning and feeding my family, I find myself consuming food while multitasking so this week I am going to aim to COUNT EACH BITE OF FOOD. Maybe I will visit an organic food, perhaps seeing the labor that goes into what I often eat will make me appreciate it. Here’s to conscious chewing, and living. . .