4 Yogic Lessons to Transform Your Food Habits

I’ve often noticed that when we’re ready to embark on positive changes in our diets and health habits, feeling overwhelmed can set us back, and we feel stuck. We all identify pretty strongly with our beliefs, behaviors and habits around food. Even if these habits and patterns no longer serve us, there’s comfort in their familiarity. We may wonder how we can possibly evolve if this is all we’ve ever known. We may also feel that if we let go of a habit, we’ll lose something we’ve become strongly attached to.

The good news is that we are ever changing, and our potential for growth has no limit. Typically, the biggest obstacle to getting what we really want in our relationship with food—whether it’s healing emotional eating, overcoming food cravings, restrictive eating, or learning to nourish our bodies with the highest quality whole foods—is letting go of the belief that tells us we can’t. When we begin to shift our mindset so that we view ourselves as always evolving, we get a glimpse into the limitlessness of our potential.

The following four lessons from yogic philosophy can serve as a guide for transformation.

1. "The Seer, or true you, reflects in the mind which is your mirror.Normally, you can’t see the true Self because your mind is colored If the mind has a lot of waves like the surface of the lake, you will be seeing a distorted reflection To see the true reflection, see that the water is clean and calm and without any ripples When the mind ceases to create thought forms or when the chittam is completely free of vrittis, it becomes clear as a still lake and you see your true Self." – Yoga Sutras

Become the observer of your habits. Take a step back, get distance, and observe your behavior patterns around food to deepen your sense of clarity to see Self. Bring awareness to your habits regarding food. Do you eat to calm stress, anxiety, or feelings of being overwhelmed? Become the observer, step back, and take note of your patterns with a compassionate eye.

We’re usually so close to our behaviors that our view of ourselves is distorted. Getting distance enables us to release beliefs regarding our identity and therefore, make growth possible.

2. "Acting with deep compassion from within my own being, I dispel all ignorance-born darkness with wisdom’s resplendent light." – Bhagavad Gita

Accept Self and release all judgment. Getting caught up in categorizing past behaviors as good or bad keeps us locked into the paralyzing feeling of shame and guilt. Accept yourself just as you are today, learn from your patterns, and move on.

Seek refuge in the attitude of detachment and you will amass the wealth of spiritual awareness. Those who are motivated only by desire for the fruits of action are miserable, for they are constantly anxious about the results of what they do. When consciousness is unified, however, all vain anxiety is left behind. – Bhagavad Gita

3. "Without concern for results, perform the necessary action; surrendering all attachments, accomplish life’s highest good." – Bhagavad Gita

What beliefs or behaviors can you let go of or detach from in order to make space and allow yourself more freedom for growth? If we become overly attached to the outcome of our new behaviors, worry and anxiety can arise. As a result, we miss out on enjoying the process and staying present. Focus on adding in the new habits and behaviors, and try taking action from a place of compassion and nourishment of Self. Acting from your most authentic self, trust that you’ll make the best decisions for your health and allow yourself to be well today.

4. "When doubts are cleared, the sadhaka has to discard even this discriminative knowledge. The new illuminating wisdom is free from doubts and discriminations; it blazes forth, a glowing beacon of knowledge. When both old and new impressions are dissolved, a state of seedless enlightenment arises, in which all illusions and delusions terminate." – Yoga Sutras

Be empowered to change and choose your new health story; update your beliefs and habits, and in time, they will become second nature. Realize that once you have a vision of where you want to be in terms of your health, you can begin to act from this higher version of yourself.

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