Below is an excerpt of my submitted article. Hope you like it xo
As a Registered Dietitian-Nutritionist, the biggest lesson I have learned is that eating is not as simple as just fueling the body. We no longer eat solely out of hunger, but we use food for celebration, as a reward, to cope with sadness or fatigue, and everything in between. The stressors in our life and the lack of time for self care make it challenging to nurture our minds and bodies in other ways.
Personally, yoga and pilates has been an important self-care strategy, although I initially started these practices for the physical benefits. It was a slow journey that is still continuing, but I began to notice the benefits connecting mind and body can have on decision making and coping with stress. It is now something I integrate into my work as a Dietitian and movement instructor, with the goal of guiding clients through the challenges to realizing the benefits mindfulness can have towards long term change.
Mindfulness practice can take many forms. On the mat, I encourage students to notice how movements make them feel, and give them the freedom to adjust, in order to build this mind and body connection. A major shift in my movement practice began when I found the value quieting the mind. In a class, I often guide students during moments of stillness to notice thoughts that enter their mind, but rather than dwelling on them, work on letting them pass. In recent years, it clicked for me how important this exercise is to my nutrition clients as well. This activity in a yoga class has great value to relax the body and mind, but further more in a nutrition consult can help a client stop dwelling on a negative emotion or feeling that may fuel negative eating patterns.
Integrating mindfulness into my nutrition practice also expands to tuning in to what my clients’ bodies are telling them, and learning to trust in their personal strengths. By taking pause, clients can start to listen to natural hunger signals as a cue to start and finish a meal. Time to pause, as well as reflect on eating patterns, also allows clients to learn their associations with food (like loneliness, anxiety) that may lead them to eat when they aren't hungry. Through building trust in this mind-body connection, clients can slowly heal a broken relationship with food. For some clients, yoga movements may be a catalyst towards mindfulness, but I work with many other clients who learn to tune in to their bodies without asana or formal meditation. First and foremost, it’s most important to learn the value of pause, and also of continued to practice. Mindfulness is a skill that, just like a muscle, you have to exercise regularly to strengthen.