Today in the global marketplace there are many influential factors to consider in choosing how to eat. With the research of Candace Pert about the molecules of emotion we are beginning to realize the connection of mind and body that saturates our daily lives. In Ayurveda, food is utilized to balance the specific needs of the client. It is a system based on critical thinking and problem solving in the moment to choose the best food from the choices given. In my years of clinical practice I have begun to notice a trend. That the foods that people choose reflects the state of their mind. It began with a client who would only eat baked goods when he was upset. Otherwise he did not have any interest in them. I began to notice similar patterns with other clients. A pattern of eating that went beyond even emotional eating to a direct manifestation of the thoughts and beliefs that were in someone’s mind. Here are some of the patterns that I have noticed.
Poverty/neediness mentality- This group is always planning for the worst. Their cupboards and fridge are stuffed with food and yet they are always making lists and thinking about going to the store for one more thing. It is never enough no matter how much they have. This pattern also finds its way into overeating. Through Ayurveda the poverty mentality can be deconstructed and the need for food will reflect the true needs of the client.
The victim- This group is related to the archetype of the same name. They are a martyr, always talking about the good things in life that they have given up. They become obsessed with food because of this sense of lack that develops from being subject to the whims of their body. As if their body was separate from them and they will never be the same again. This group mainly cuts out sugar, wheat and dairy. You know when you meet this group because they have all the evidence to support why they are the victim.
The saboteur- The saboteur is constantly committing crimes against wisdom. They know better, but convince themselves in very sophisticated ways that junk food is really food. Or that one more plate at the buffet won’t be all that bad, they’ll just drink some extra water. This group fluctuates from extreme discipline to complete transparency. They are characterized by spur of the moment choices that seem incongruent with their overall needs. At some time or another under certain stressors we may all find ourselves as the saboteur.
The child- The child eats whatever is in front of them. The difference between the child and the victim is that the child does not think about food constantly. The child easily forgets to eat and must often be reminded. When they do eat they choose foods the are easy and may not be the best for them. Without a parent looking after them they will rarely eat a home cooked meal or fruits and vegetables.
The problem solver- The problem solvers primary challenge is that they can become overly analytical and will not allow things to flow easily into and out of their palate. They realize that each moment they have different dietary needs and act accordingly. They are able to plan ahead based on the seasons and times of the day. Their routine is very structured and they can become irritable if it is not followed precisely. They often eat the same things week in and week out and have trouble varying from what they perceive works for them.
The intuitive- This group relies entirely on how they are feeling in that moment to decipher what food is best for them. This group has trouble planning ahead and often changes their mind even in the middle of a meal. The intuitive take a long time to make decisions about the food that they should eat and often eat alone. The kinds of food they eat are often very diverse in food combinations that a child could relate too.
There are probably many other styles of eating that I have not come into contact with in my private practice, but this at least gives a starting point for looking at the relationship to food and the mind. Ayurveda uses food to create the biochemistry within the body that will support the mind. It also uses meditation and yoga postures to refine the mind so that an individual will choose the kinds of foods that are best for them in the moment. This system can be used in order to understand the underlying quality of the mind that is creating the food choices that predominate. In gaining this understanding of the underlying thoughts, emotions, feelings, or beliefs we can work one of two ways.
Changing the kinds of food that are chosen will change the habits of the mind. For example if you are craving baked goods choosing a constitutionally appropriate fruit instead will alter the habit to eat the baked good. Perhaps this will not eliminate the habit completely but it is a drop in the bucket and with consistent dedication of time the habit will disappear. The other method is to change the mind. This can be done by learning a constitutionally appropriate meditation technique that will change the quality of the mind so that you will no longer desire the food that is perpetuating the dominant thought patterns discussed earlier. Each approach is used in the moment. Every time you eat it becomes a conscious act to support your body and mind to reach their optimal potential.