Conscious Eating with Eleni
Welcome to Conscious Eating. What follows will not be a new dietary ideology, super food, or miracle cleanse. Rather, we will explore a life long, lifestyle approach to food based on the Ayurvedic Paradigm of Health.
“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”
The Principle of Conscious Eating is about far more than WHAT we eat. Ultimately, our goal is to choose foods that support and sustain life, longevity and good health. In addition, what we eat should prevent us from experiencing illnesses and alleviate their symptoms, should they occur.
Are your current habits around food, which include not only WHAT, but WHEN and HOW you eat, working well for you. Can you say, without hesitation, that the your food habits are leading to abundant physical mental and emotional health?”
“The first wealth is health.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson
The word Conscious comes from the Latin word, scīre, meaning, “to know” or “to understand,” Conscious eating requires observation and attentiveness. We take on the role of observers or Ayurvedic detectives. This means paying attention to what, how and when you eat as well as your digestive experience.
According to Ayurveda, it’s not a question of whether any particular food is ‘good’ or ‘bad’. Rather, you learn to observe how YOUR body process what you eat. The answer falls, roughly, into two categories, positive and negative digestive experiences. During and after a positive digestive experience, you feel satisfied, grateful and full of energy. The negative kind leads to what is technically referred to as ‘unhappy tummy’. Here, you may experience any or all of the following: bloating, gas, burning feeling, belching, lethargy and sleepiness.
Pretty big difference, huh?
Each patient carries his own doctor inside him.”
Ayurveda sees the digestive tract as the “Master system” of the body. Food builds the physical body, mind and emotions. Just as every person is unique, all foods are not the same. Thus, generic diets, food plans, or cleanses WILL NEVER work for everyone. At best, these can only be effective for SOME of the people SOME of the time. This brings us to a simple truth, the definition of Conscious Eating: Continually Creating and Refining a Sustainable Eating Plan that Works for YOU.
This is a rich and, at times, complex practice. However, I will attempt to provide some basic Ayurvedic Principles and Guidelines in this article and the series of articles to follow. Are you ready?
“There is no magic bullet. You gotta eat healthy and live healthy to be healthy. End of story.” Morgan Spurlock
The Big Picture
Conscious Eating, ultimately, is about our relationship with ourselves, our diet, and our environment. This includes: where we get our food, how it’s grown, the manner in which it is prepared, the amount and timing of our meals, the people with whom we eat as well as our own behavioral and emotional patterns, that is, our beliefs and feelings about ourselves and whatever we eat.
To eat consciously, we need to work from the inside out. We begin by going beneath our habitual relationship with food and getting to know the energetics of food and digestion.
It is our own digestive experience that determines whether what we eat is supporting our body’s metabolic processes or disrupting them. We have both the power and responsibility to create wellness and vitality. First, we must learn to read the subtle signs our body sends us. This includes our emotional states, as our diet directly affects our mood.
“No disease that can be treated by diet should be treated with any other means.”
Conscious eating is when the individuals intake of food is supportive to health, vitality and wellbeing. My goal is that this becomes a lifestyle, a sustainable way of eating and living. Its our day to day habits over a long period of time that becomes our normal. If our habits are conscious, and moderate most of the time, then we steer ourselves on the path of health, because we take responsibility for our actions. With personal responsibility comes empowerment, which in turn leads to better understanding and choices. Its an upward spiral.
1. Your health is your most valuable currency.
Your body mind is your most valuable asset. If your are healthy and happy, then you can pursue your life’s purpose. However, if you are tired, low energy or frequently sick, then most of your time is focused on thinking, identifying with and the treatment of your particular malady. Your good health is your most valuable currency, everything starts with you!!!! Seems to me that investing in my health is the highest priority. Physical health is dependent on what you eat. Start by investing your time and attention on the foods that make your body come alive with vibrancy. Conscious eating is one of the three pillars that support health, the other two being sleep and energy.
2. Your Body/mind has to digest everything that comes in.
Every day you consume food and drink in response to hunger and other external cues with little thought to how, your body converts it. When your metabolic process is working efficiently, your body should utilize 70-80% of all food eaten. However, when digestion is insufficient, the body is not able to break down or use the food properly. Faulty digestion is the beginnings of your body’s dis-ease.
Conscious eating is designed to educate and help you make connections with your digestive process.
3. Take responsibility for your consumption of food.
This means the types and amounts of food consumed and the timing of meals. Im sure you have noticed from observing your family and friends that we all have different relationships and need of food. How much or little we eat, the frequency of meals, the types of foods etc. An important key too good health is to eat the appropriate amount and types of foods that maintain great health for you. Your body uses everything you put into it. Over time symptoms such as fatigue, lethargy and sluggishness become the norm and the immune system suffers.
4. The Burp is a practical exercise to rediscover your individual digestive capacity.
Ayurvedic medicine states, that we should eat until we are not hungry. This is very different to eating until you are full. “The stomach should be 1/2 filled by solid foods,1/4 by water and 1/4 should be kept free for the movement of air.” The stomach naturally gives a burp when its three quarters 3/4 full. Many of us have trained our stomachs to stretch by overeating or eating too frequently and this natural capacity has been overridden.
5. Eat real food.
My greatest contribution to my health is that I love to prepare and cook my food. I enjoy going to the farmers markets, searching for recipes and creating great food made with love…..nothing better. Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine said ‘the forces within us are the true healers and food is the true medicine.’ Eat a varied diet and buy the highest quality food you can. Mix it up and try a few vegetarian meals every week. Minimize meat and fish consumption. Try not to eat anything that comes in a box. Avoid or reduce all processed food, white sugar and trans fats. Instead create a diet based on plants, whole grains, beans, nuts, seeds and fruits. Get to know the foods that grow in your area and whats in season. When you eat seasonal, fresh, locally grown food, you deepen your connection with nature and your environment. As a result your body becomes revitalized.
6. Use spices to enhance digestive and metabolic capacity.
Ayurveda recognizes that the foundation of good health rests on a healthy functioning digestive tract. Herbs and spices are used to enhance and support correct functioning of digestion and metabolism. Here we are using spices as medicine to correct, improve and regulate digestive fire. Spices can be used either before a meal to ignite the fire and increase digestion or after to facilitate the processing or metabolism of food.
“Eating comfort food isn’t a reward — it’s a punishment.”
If you’re intrigued by the ideas discussed in this article, stop into Eleni’s workshop on Wednesday, July 18 at ODD Silverlake to learn more!
Blog post was originally published here.
ODDlight fam feature – Valerie Smith
Meet Valerie! She’s our Manager Liza’s BFF, our resident tarot guru, and a crusader of curiosity!
Name: Valerie Smith
Nick Name: Val, Wife (Liza only tho)
Hometown: I adopted Long Beach, CA as my hometown after 9.5 years there, but technically I’m from the Bay Area, a small town called Fairfax. Which is also an adopted hometown but that’s my story and I’m stickin to it.
Favorite Place: Ireland! I spent 10 days on a solo trip to Connemara there last year, exploring the land that my mother’s mother’s family comes from; and all its sacred, witchy, mystical beauty. One day I will go back and spend a summer there while writing a book.
Favorite color: Have I mentioned lately how much I love orange?! I was never that big into orange
before but right now, that color is driving me wild! I can’t get enough!
What’s your sign? Leo Sun, and oh-so-proud! Can’t wait to ring in our season with my birthday at the end of this month. I’m also an Aquarius Rising (which explains my deep obsession with the soul of humanity and also why I hate rules) and a Pisces Moon (tapping into all my feelings and intuitions).
Most embarrassing moment? WELL. I’m a Leo so I don’t embarrass easily. But, a few years ago was out dancing for a friend’s birthday. I’m not a subtle dancer, ever, but this particular night I was EXTRA flamboyant, flinging myself across the dancefloor—until I hit a spot where somebody had just moments before spilled their beer. I did a sort of cartoonish, banana-peel fall forward in front of the entire establishment. I thought the only thing injured was my ego so I jumped right back up but actually I hurt my ankle and couldn’t really walk on it for a few days.
Fun Fact most wouldn’t know about you? People always ask me if my FULL SLEEVE TATTOO is new? No, dudes, I’ve had the fortune teller on my arm for over 10 years, long before I ever saw myself as doing intuitive work. Her name is Esperanza, which means hope. The truth is that my whole life I dreamed about living the life I have now, for the most part—but I never thought it was possible. Now I’m choosing to believe and follow my dreams and maybe just maybe tattoo them on me so that they come true.
When you aren’t at the studio where can you be found (favorite past time)? DANCING! Ideally. I just started taking dance classes, and I’m obsessed. But also, just any dance floor where my feet can move as quick as possible.
How do you define yoga? A pathway to enlightenment, the Divine. A way toward inner-knowing.
Why do you teach? I never took a formal course in tarot, but I pieced together everything from reading with friends, online resources, and my own experiences. A couple of years after I started, I organized bi-monthly meet-ups with friends who wanted to learn. So we would get together and share—but I realized soon that I was actually leading/teaching these gatherings…Liza would come to them and she encouraged me to start teaching! I learn best with others, so I like to create spaces where we can learn together. I tend to focus on what it is that I need and then I create a class around that…and it usually resonates! So we all get to come together, learn, and heal collectively. It’s a dream.
What brought you to become an instructor?
Well I don’t teach yoga, but I came to teaching tarot because of Liza! She told me I was a good teacher, I had no idea. And then as soon as I started it was so fun and fulfilling that I just kept on teaching!
What is your favorite song to play in class? Well…I’m really in love with Kadhja Bonet right now…both her albums are amazing, and filled with healing songs, beautiful lyrics, and cosmic harmonies. But a favorite right now is Another Time Lover from her most recent album. She’s playing my birthday weekend and we should all go.
What is your favorite pose or flow? Why? I’ve really been vibing on peaceful warrior pose, and I’m sure its partly the name. One thing yoga is absolutely amazing at, is calming our fight or flight mentality. I love the idea of a Warrior of Peace, or compassion, or love, or healing; this pose suggests to me receptivity and adoration of something beautiful and greater than our normalized habits, reactions, and ways of being. It challenges us to BE BETTER.
Memorable yoga moment? Unfortunately my most memorable yoga moment recently came when I was really sick and trying to work through it—I was already way overheated in my body—then I went to class and…got a bloody nose! I had to sneak out to the bathroom, and then take the rest of the class basically in childs pose. Maybe this is obvious but sometimes I have a hard time slowing down…
How did you first hear about One Down Dog? From Liza like four or five years ago! It’s the only yoga studio I’ve been to in LA which, I guess is a little crazy, but…when you know you know!
What was the last book you read? Emergent Strategy! It’s a must read for anyone doing social justice work right now, I think. adrienne maree brown (all lower-case) writes in an easy, accessible way, and I’M HOSTING A 6-PART PRACTICE GROUP ON THE BOOK STARTING THIS SUMMER! The book takes different elements of nature and applies it to relationship building as tools for organizing. The theories are really interesting, and the challenge is: how do we learn to apply them in our lives?? So that’s the work that we’ll start doing this summer!
Do you dream? Lucid dream? DO I DREAM!? Boy oh boy yes. I feel really lucky to have a relationship with my dreams. Recently my dreams have been pretty funny, but not super informative or important. Last night I dreamt about women’s wrestling because I’m watching GLOW. But I certainly receive some big dreams on occasion, including lucid dreams. I used to fly whenever I was lucid dreaming, but now they are maybe less fun but more useful. During a nightmare recently, I became aware I was dreaming and used that knowledge to send love and compassion to those trying to hurt me, as well as set some boundaries…and then the “bad guys” started to become more beautiful, and
not dangerous. And I woke up without falling back asleep into a nightmare! I also plan to lead some dream workshops. My work as a spiritual counselor/guide also includes dream interpretation and working with dreams on an emotional/spiritual level.
Who or What is your spirit animal? WELL I’m not indigenous/native and so I’ve decided not to use the phrase “spirit animal” since I would be appropriating a particular aspect of indigenous culture without fully understanding it/respecting it. Also I don’t have permission to use it. But! A very similar phrase that I DO feel comfortable using is animal familiar. That would be my dog, Chula, who is me in dog form. When I’m thinking about animals that are meaningful to me on a psyche-intuitive-spiritual level, I break it down by Mind-Body-Spirit-Heart. So right now, my heart is represented by a lioness, for courage, collaboration, and femme strength. My body feels like a bee, buzzing from one thing to the
next, searching for what’s next. My spirit is and has felt like a mockingbird, singing all the different songs; and my mind feels like a butterfly in its chrysalis: still in the process of her becoming.
What is your favorite yogi prop or piece to wear or use? In my Sufi tradition, we have prayer beads called a tesbih. It’s similar to malas, they look very similar though they’re used a little bit differently. I made my own prayer bead necklace last year, and it’s probably the spiritual tool that means the most to me.
What special causes or non-profits do you hold dear to your heart? I’m very much in support of the Reform LA Jails initiative, which is lead by hardworking organizations such as Dignity and Power Now,
Are there any links, @names, and #hashtags you would you like us to use in promoting you and your happenings? @queermysticdreaming
Second Wednesday of the month there’s an intuitive tarot workshop, and this month every Tuesday catch CONNECT on the theme of curiosity.
ODDbeats brought to you by Amy McGuire
Our featured teacher for June has made you a sneak peek into her brain!
Get down with Amy’s ODDbeats and check out our spotify to see all the playlists teachers, staff, and managers have made.
#ODDlight Feature – Amy McGuire
It’s Amy in the ODDlight! This babe has been rocking our worlds for about 2 years at One Down Dog. An important fitness oriented element and a woman who makes a point to learn everyone’s name. Smart, silly, and so damn strong – check her out!
Name: Amy McGuire
Nick Name: Mac
Hometown: Dumas Texas, Farmtown Oklahoma, Tempe AZ, Pasadena Ca haha
Favorite Place: In the sky or in the water
Favorite color: Orange
What’s your sign? Leo
Most embarrassing moment? Too many to have a most; they are just too frequent and my brain has waaaaay too much stuff going on up there to index that info.
When you aren’t at the studio where can you be found (favorite past time)? Skydiving!
How do you define yoga? I don’t think I do.
Why do you teach? I teach because people need the reminder of movement, peace, to pull away from the dog and pony show we live in daily.
What brought you to become an instructor? An injury. Yoga saved me from surgery and nasty scars.
What is your favorite song to play in class? Whichever one makes me cry or dance that week.
What is your favorite pose or flow? Why? I love a lotus mudra flow. It’s expressive, expanding and breathable.
Memorable yoga moment? Falling over in a wide-legged forward fold into a wall where I was then pinned during a public class.
How did you first hear about One Down Dog? Several of my co-teachers taught/teach there and I had to check it out.
What is your favorite yogi prop or piece to wear or use? (favorite mala etc) Aromatics! Gimme smoke, gimme oils!
What was the last book you read? The Luck Factor
Do you dream? Lucid dream? I dream a lot! Many of them seem real, which can be a good or bad thing given the subject matter!
If YOU were a color what color would you be? I am a color and it is YOU.
ODDbeats – Women DJ’s, Techno Babes, and Electric Ladies
Caitlin Randolph here – May’s #ODDlight feature.
I was going to make a feel good playlist of empowering songs to get you going in the right direction. Our environment has a powerful influence on our mood. HOWEVER – looks like the One Down Dog spotify already had a – Love Yo’ Self – playlist going – so I added to that (my additions are from the singing in the rain “good morning” song and downward).
created a new playlist that is equally as empowering and feel good for other reasons.
ELECTRIC LADIES! TECHNO BABES! LADY DJ’S!
Enjoy – special shout out to my friends Audrey Love and Greyson Beffa for their massive contributions to the playlist and my sister Lauren who’s given me my music my whole life. None of my playlists are ever a solo effort. Requests in class encouraged!