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Overcoming Emotional Eating with Mindfulness

Overcoming Emotional Eating with Mindfulness

Emotional Eating – Feeding your Feelings

I am sure you know that: Eating out of boredom, stress, anger, sadness or other emotional reasons. We sometimes eat without being hungry at all. Many of us turn to the comfort of food to numb out uncomfortable feelings. We try to fill emotional needs, rather than our stomach. Unfortunately, emotional eating doesn’t fix emotional problems and usually makes you feel worse.  Do you sometimes feel like you have no control over your eating habits, as if someone else sits in the driver’s seat?

Emotional eating could also be translated as unconscious eating. This “other part” who takes over control within you is the subconscious, which determines around 95% of our actions and decisions. Therefore, nutrition plans and good intentions are all well and good, but as long as our unconscious is programmed differently, it will always mess with us.

In recent months I have noticed how important this topic is for many people from the participants in my online program Thrive & Shine. And I know it from myself, from the time when I ate so much chocolate that I almost felt sick. That doesn’t feel good at all.

An holistic approach

Ayurveda and Chinese medicine have many helpful recommendations, for example how to reduce hunger for sweet things. By dealing with the energetic effects of food (what cools, what warms, what gives energy, what moisturises …) my clients learn to feel more into their body and to understand its signals. More and more, they find the diet that really suits them and is good for their unique body constitution and keeps it healthy.

Nevertheless, for me a part was missing to really help people with the subject of “emotional eating”. I found some tools in the teachings of mindfulness. If we start to develop more mindfulness in our daily life, we can overcome unhealthy eating habits much easier. It’s really wonderful to experience!

5 characteristics of emotional eating

  • You feel bad after eating.
  • You eat without being hungy.
  • You eat a lot of things that are not good for your body.
  • You often feel guilty about eating.
  • You feel like you can’t control yourself while eating.

Important: If you eat unhealthy things every now and then, it is not emotional eating! The question is how do you feel about it.

With the following 6 steps you can start immediately. Have them at hand next time you are tempted …

6 steps to start overcoming emotional eating

  1. Before you start to eat, pause and take a few conscious, deep breaths. Observe why you want to eat.
  2. Feel in your body: What are the sensations? (e.g. stinging in the shoulder, rapid heart beat, feeling tense and angry, etc.)
  3. Acknowledge these sensations (aha, my heart is beating very quickly right now) and send a few loving thoughts to this point (dear heart, I feel you and I am there for you).
  4. Ask yourself: What am I feeling right now? (e.g. restlessness, tension, impatience) Ask yourself: What feelings are hidden behind restlessness? (e.g. fear, loneliness, anger, boredom)
  5. Acknowledge these feelings and stay with them lovingly for a while (restlessness, ok, I am with you). Breathe consciously and continue to feel your body.
  6. Now decide if you still want to eat. If so, consciously enjoy each bite and try to eat more slowly than usual. Take a break in between and ask yourself again how and what you are feeling. Be the loving observer of yourself and get to know yourself better without judging or criticising yourself.

This process is about becoming aware of what is happening. The nice thing is that we do it without any pressure. So the goal is not to never eat anything unhealthy or have cravings again! We just want to be more mindful and get to know ourselves better. We do this primarily by slowing down the process and feeling inside our body.

Even if you only feel inside yourself for 10 seconds at the beginning before you eat the bag of chips, this is a wonderful first step! And a week later, it’s maybe a minute and you’ve already observed some feelings and sensations. Just by observing, sensing and understanding what is actually happening, a lot already changes. Repeat these 6 steps over and over and practice noticing your sensations and feelings. You will be surprised what that does to your eating habits!

Eye Problems: Natural Remedies and Diet Tips from Chinese Medicine

Eye Problems: Natural Remedies and Diet Tips from Chinese Medicine

Understanding eye problems through TCM and Ayurveda

Eye problems can make day-to-day life harder and impact well-being and life quality. The most common eye disorders are: red, itchy, burning, dry and bloodshot eyes, as well as a yellowish tinge in the whites or sensitivity to light. Once you know which factors can trigger and aggravate these symptoms, you can start finding ways to reduce or even eliminate them. Moreover, there are natural remedies and diet tips you can apply to help heal eye imbalances.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine there is a saying: “The liver opens into the eyes.” That is why, we always treat the liver as well when seeing eye problems. When stress, overwork, feelings of anger and frustration and poor nutrition take over, the liver qi is no longer flowing harmoniously in the body. Therefore, the energy rises up and generates heat. As a result, it can manifest in forms of migraine-like headaches and eye problems. 

In Ayurvedic medicine we commonly see a Pitta imbalance at the root of eye problems. Meaning, that excess pitta in the form of heat is circulating in the system. Especially in summer, the season of pitta, we see more people suffering from itching, red and painful eyes when temperatures are rising. Whereas, dry and watery eyes are mainly caused by a Vata imbalance and often get worse in late autumn into early winter, the seasons of Vata.

Let´s look at the most common eye problems.

Healing your eyes with Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine wisdom

Red and itchy eyes

Redness and itchiness are signs of heat. Even if your eyes burn frequently, it can show an excess heat in the system. Consequently, we need to cool the liver and avoid things that produce heat.

The best foods to cool the liver are:

  • Green vegetables esp. broccoli, celery and courgette
  • Bitter salad
  • Artichoke
  • Cucumber
  • Watermelon
  • Turmeric and saffron
  • Dandelion
  • Peppermint and jasmine tea

While the following foods and drinks are best to avoid: alcohol, coffee, sausage, fried and grilled meat, leek, sugar and strong spices like chilli, pimento, cinnamon, ginger and pepper. Overconsumption of meat, shellfish and cacao can also lead to excess liver heat.

Also herbal infusions can help to reduce heat in the eyes. The best medicinal plants are:

  • Gentian root
  • Lavender
  • Peppermint
  • Chrysanthemum flowers

The following tea recipe from Chinese medicine helps to build up liver blood and to reduce heat in the eyes:

Take 1 tbsp chrysanthemum flowers and 1.5 tbsp goji berries. Steep into 500ml of boiling water for at least 10 minutes. Then drink over the day, ideally for a duration of around 2 weeks.

Chrysanthemum flowers are also recommended for conjunctivitis and high blood pressure. Because of their strong heat-clearing properties, it´s important to add goji berries to balance this strong effect. Another possibility is to prepare chrysanthemum flower tea, letting it cool off and to do an eye-wash.

Note: Never drink pure chrysanthemum flowers tea if suffering from low blood pressure. 

Ayurveda recommends washing the eyes with high-quality rose water. This will help soothe and hydrate the tired, red and itchy eyes and give them a refreshed look.

Very dry and / or watery eyes

These are both signs of liver blood deficiency in Chinese medicine. The liver stores the blood and if it gets deficient, the eyes are not enough moistened and get dry. Whereas, watery eyes, indicate that liver wind has risen up to the eyes due to the lack of blood. Furthermore, this can lead to sensitivity of pollen, light, wind or air conditioning. Simply, because the eyes are not able anymore to create a natural barrier to defend themselves from these external factors.

The following foods can help to rebuild liver blood if eaten regularly:

  • Broccoli
  • Cherry
  • Dark berries
  • Molasses or black treacle
  • Lamb´s lettuce
  • Date
  • Egg yolk
  • Carrot, parsnip and other root veggies
  • Lentil
  • Parsley
  • Pine nut
  • Beetroot
  • Black sesame paste

Especially the following things can cause dry and watery eyes: smoking, too much black tea and coffee, spicy foods, red wine, poor nutrition and long hours in front of a computer screen.

Ayurveda suggests drinking licorice tea and putting a drop of Triphala Ghee in the eyes. Also regular consumption of Triphala Ghee in your food preparation can support the healing process.

Yellow eyes

According to TCM, a yellowish tinge in the whites of the eyes is due to too much dampness and heat in the liver. Other signs can be grittiness that feels like sand in the eyes or sticky eyelids in the morning.

That´s why it´s important to avoid everything that produces more dampness like: sugar, white flour, wheat, cow’s milk, fried or oily and too much raw food. Foods that are especially good to reduce excess dampness are: apple, millet, miso, seaweed, radish, olive, kidney bean, mushroom and shiitake. See above for the diet recommendations for reducing excess heat.

A great herbal tea to reduce dampness and heat from the eyes is dandelion tea. Take 2 tbsp of dandelion roots and leaves. Then steep it for at least 15 minutes in 500ml cold water, bring to a boil and let it simmer for about 15 minutes. After that remove the herbs and drink at room temperature. Note: If you suffer from soft bowels or diarrhea, you should combine it with other herbs to counterbalance the strong cooling effect.

Amalaki, a famous ayurvedic plant, helps to reduce heat and strengthens the digestive fire to help reduce dampness in the body. Furthermore, it´s boosting immunity and supports healthy metabolism.

Are you looking for natural ways to improve and protect your eye sight and heal eye problems? Treatment options can vary widely and depend on the underlying conditions causing it. Get in touch with me for a personal  consultation. I am looking forward to hearing from you!

Weight loss with Chinese Medicine – lose weight and keep it off for good!

Weight loss with Chinese Medicine – lose weight and keep it off for good!

How to lose weight and fight obesity with Chinese Medicine

Weight loss with Chinese medicine wisdom means you can finally reach your feel-good weight and maintain it. The added benefits are that you’ll not just reach your desired weight, but you’ll also feel more energised and self-confident.

How many times have you tried a diet but failed for different reasons? Maybe you lost some weight but then put it back on again? Are you ready to quit trying yet another diet? Maybe you belong to the group of people who have tried a bunch of different diets and could write a book about the experience.

The restrictions and varied advice from internet “experts” include everything from: cutting out carbohydrates, drinking 3 litres of water per day, to eating low-fat products. The short term results are often accompanied by feelings of frustration and disappointment.

How Chinese medicine views overweight and obesity

Being overweight is often linked to incorrect eating habits from the perspective of TCM. An excess of strong cooling foods such as large amounts of raw foods, dairy products, tropical fruits, fruit juices and sweets, weakens our spleen which belongs to the earth element in TCM. The spleen is responsible for transporting and transforming the food we eat to nourish our system and to keep our “digestive fire” burning. The stronger it is, the better our metabolism.

If our spleen is weak, the transformation process can no longer be completed as the body fails to transform the dampness in the body and therefore stores it as additional body weight. Consequently, it promotes the formation of dampness and phlegm. As a result, we feel tired, listless and we’ll suffer from indigestion and heaviness. If this condition persists, water retention, cellulite, swollen face and hands in the morning and obesity can result. We also speak here of a weak spleen-Qi in Chinese Medicine.

Another reason why losing weight does not work can also be stagnation in the body. In this case, it’s the liver that is usually affected as it tends to stagnate under stress, time pressure, recurrent anger, lack of exercise and regular intake of alcohol and deep-fried and grilled foods.

Fortunately, there is a range of foods that strengthen our spleen, and help to move and drain dampness-phlegm and eliminate stagnation. In addition to that we can achieve a lot by avoiding unfavourable habits.

Sign up for my free “7-Days to Boost your Metabolism” course and learn the basic principles of Ayurveda for a properly functioning metabolism. Find better sleep, boost your immune system, have a strong digestion and lose weight faster.

9 Top Tips for Weight loss with Chinese Medicine wisdom

1. Don’t skip any dishes
Eating regularly, and ideally at similar times, is important to keep your blood sugar level balanced. This will prevent any cravings for sweets and other unhealthy foods and keep your “digestive fire” burning. It will also produce Qi to keep your metabolism burning calories and fat.

Therefore, never skip meals to save calories as it is counterproductive. Often I hear people telling me that they are not hungry in the morning. That ́s a result of a weak spleen-Qi. After eating small quantities in the morning for several weeks, the sense of hunger will come back.

2. Excessive drinking without thirst
In TCM it differs for each single person how much water intake is healthy. From the point of view of TCM, the spleen has the ability to absorb excess liquids, which we consume through our food. However, if the spleen is weakened then too much water will not be excreted via the kidneys but stored in the tissues. People suffering from a weak spleen-Qi should not drink more than 1.5-2 litres per day. If you are not feeling thirsty, you should drink less.

3. Drinks for eliminating dampness and strengthening the spleen
Barley tea is a wonderful drink to eliminate dampness from the body. Every day about half a litre of it can help the body excrete the existing damp-phlegm and to dissolve stagnation.
As an ideal thirst quencher and to strengthen the digestive strength, I recommend hot, boiled water. This can be drunk in the long term and helps to dissipate the moisture and thus detoxify the body.

4. Avoid dietary products
Light products, reduced-fat foods and diet products often contain flavour enhancers and artificial sweeteners that increase appetite, are difficult to digest and strain digestion. They are often found hidden on the ingredients list under E numbers, maltodextrin, oligofructose and sodium nitrite.

5. Avoid bread
Bread is difficult to digest and produces dampness. As a result it won’t be completely digested and stores the remains as dampness in the body. Many people experience gas, bloating and soft bowels after consuming it. The more moisture the bread has, the worse the impact.

6. Avoid foods that produce dampness
As explained in the beginning, Chinese medicine considers that accumulated dampness is a factor that causes weight gain. Dampness within the body is produced when we are eating too much, too greasy and the wrong foods and when we are under stress. As a result we can become overweight, and so therefore, we must eliminate this dampness.

Foods and ingredients to avoid include: White sugar and sweets, ice-cream, noodles and bread, overconsumption of raw foods esp. salads, tomatoes and cucumbers.

Furthermore, avoid fruits like: Pineapple, kiwi, rhubarb, lemon, banana, kaki, mango, papaya, watermelon and honey melon lead to dampness.

Drinks that weaken the spleen: Cold drinks, soft drinks, fruit juices, algues and soy products.

The same applies for cow milk products like: yogurt, cheese and others.

Instead you should consume more vegetables, nuts, seeds, and fish which are abundant in calcium.

7. Start your day with a cooked breakfast
Do you love your yogurt bowl with fresh fruits in the morning? Do you often catch colds and feel tired despite having a healthy breakfast? Maybe this “cold” combo in the morning is completely wrong for your organism.

The most active time period of the stomach and spleen is between 7 and 11 am, according to the Chinese organ clock. Therefore, the most important meal of the day is breakfast. The ideal breakfast is a warm cooked meal that will fuel your digestive fire, and provide a good basis for the metabolism throughout the day.

Finally, If you belong to the group of people who skip breakfast, you may expect a weakening in your spleen.

8. No snacking in between
Many diets recommend five or more meals a day. Studies show that this leads to weight gain. In order to burn fat optimally, three meals a day are better with 4-5 hours between them. In addition to that, the blood sugar level is much better balanced (does not apply to diabetics). Eat more wholesome foods because they simply fill you up longer.

Be patient and you will get there

Instead of going on a crash diet, a diet change is better. You will be supplied with all nutrients and the metabolism of the body will not be slowed down, as it is the case with radical diets. Weight loss with Chinese Medicine will not only help you achieve your desired weight, but will also help you maintain it and avoid the yo-yo effect.

Sign up for my free “7-Days to Boost your Metabolism” course and learn the basic principles of Ayurveda for a properly functioning metabolism. Find better sleep, boost your immune system, have a strong digestion and lose weight faster.

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  • healthier immune system
  • faster weight loss

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