Mindful Eating with Clarissa Berry

Mindful Eating by Darcy @yinlife  – Slowing down and appreciating simple food with expert nutritionist Clarissa Berry.

It was absolutely heart-warming to watch this amazing insta life by Darcy @yinlife on her first insta live for Mindful March.

Clarissa Berry, Certified Nutrionist was a guest for the occasion (she is an expert Coach who designs personalised programs across a whole range of different solutions).

I remember having a bit of a rough time a few years back experiencing burn out (involving some issues related to eating – sometimes it feels like life in London is too hectic and we hardly have any time to slow down and enjoy a meal) and being supported by a great chef in the process of specialising as a Naturopathic practitioner.  His guidance was truly beneficial and I am now trying to continue following his advice).

Mindful March what a key time in transition – on a Sunday evening. Really beautiful to watch it again for the purpose of this piece of content writing and sharing.

(Keep reading for an interesting eating process for eating mindfully ritual).

Clarissa and Darcy worked at Second Home, a place whose principles are all around an organic and holistic approach to food.

Part of it was making breakfast for people (banana, yogurt and spirulina and peanut butter was Darcy’s favourite- seems really delicious!). In addition to that, they trained together (in Holland Park for some strengthening condition training).

Mindful Eating was also part of my journey when qualifying as a Mindfulness practitioner.  It feels really joyful that concepts of this chat resonate.

According to Clarissa, Mindfulness has a “very personal meaning attached to it” (as a meditation process, mainly).  In her view, it is the act of being into the now fully, applying that to any activity, brushing the teeth in her case, among others (consciously making the effort of being totally present). Not only does that allow to embed Mindfulness but also to generate an effect on digestion.

What is Mindful Eating?

It consists of different levels.  First and foremost, bringing Mindfulness into the actual eating.

So, food is introduced in the mouth without being distracted (without worrying about anything else), tasting the flavours, noticing the colours, having a sensorial experience to it.  Listening to the body’s signals. Mindful eating helps you listen and tune into your body, what the reason is for choosing what you are eating (conscious selection of the source of food).

We mostly seem to ignore these signals (I certainly did!).

The next step consists of understanding and reflecting on the journey of the food. Not changing the rationale for the eating process, but also taking a moment, acknowledging where the food comes from, people working in that chance. Without any judgement, just noticing.  As a result, we can make more ethical choices (for consciousness and awareness).  The whole supply chain and supplier, building a deeper connection.

Saying Grace is a practice (I remember this from my previous landlady – fond memories of my first experience in living in London at someone’s place where the person was really passionate about preparing food).  Stillness plays a major role, as well. There can be a religious meaning or not. These have been lost over time.  The gratitude effect on the brain makes us feel grounded us and get really absorbed by the digestive system (mind and body).

What are the benefits of Mindful Eating?

Physiologically, for digestion, a typical situation waiting for your food.   If we instruct the mouth to prepare the process if we happen to be distracted, we are not fully focussed, not fully getting the right message (i.e. tasting, chewing), we can benefit more from the process. There is more time to send the food, more digestive enzymes, more saliva, and more ability to digest.

We would have to chew our food your food 40 times, (scientifically backed up) in order to experience a healthy process.  In fact, the more you chew your food and break it (where we have control unlike the rest of the system) the more effective the process is.

We might otherwise be losing nutrients and damage the gut (resulting in the gut system become inflamed, produce gas, and so on) Apart from chewing and eating mindfully, being calm and feel grateful for optimal results would be ideal (I was always in haste, in quick breaks and rushing from one place to another, often still see people eating in the tube).

Our sympathetic mode is our defensive mode (climb on a tree, run away, now read emails, trying to react to any danger to avoid it for survival).

In our stressful reality it is key to apply the so called “rest and digest” system (yin state in this case).

In a parasympathetic system mode, we are relaxing, we have no fear of being attack and we are not in a “fight of flight” state.

Studies have shown light on gratitude, (most conditions like IBS have a direct link with stress) and its good results on the brain. Eating and being stressed out, learning, being calm and peaceful (working in stressful environment can be detrimental).  This would be a broader topic.  

What are the benefits of all this?

Darcy mentioned being stressed in lockdown, due to some uncertainty whereas synchronising with the seasons makes it all more organic, there is a connection (not living in our head, as we constantly do).  Chi Kong is feeling the body and connecting that to the body with breath and meditation.

As a quick reference, back to body’s cues, both men and women experience guilt on what to eat (what is good and what is bad).

And at this stage now, time for some mindful eating process, sultana, raisins, almonds, or any dried fruit, as an alternative.

Digestion starts in the brain and we eat with the eyes first.

Some parts from the video for guidance to the ritual:

Where it grows, wind, where that grows, the vine, the grapes, hands helping grow harvest, dried in the sun in a factory, packed shipped, shifting crates, driving trucks, and what a miraculous experience, coming all the way to the table, smell it, do you want to eat it, do you not want to?

Put it in your mouth, become aware of texture, shape, how it feels in your tongue, do you want to bite into it?

Bite it down, be aware of the burst of flavour, what happens in your brain, in your digestive system?

Finally when it is done, can you swallow it?

Be aware of how your body feels and mouth feels.

(Darcy enjoyed the flavours thoroughly).

We just seem to rush to the finish line very different when we notice and feel.

Not possible to do all the time but it changes the experience as a whole.  Lockdown has helped us all to experience slow down and understand its value.

Springtime back then and now and what food should we more mindful of?  Eat seasonally is very healthy. Although it is not always possible,

The cookbook “The Modern Cooks’ Year”, is a recommendation and what is in season is shown as well.  

Eating in season is not always possible, as mentioned above (food shipped from abroad) choosing seasonal produce not only. The closest at home the more nutrients. Attached to the plant, fully ripped.

In addition to that carbon footprint and sustaining local farmers.

Are there any rules of the time?  It is not possible to come up with a specific solution.

Some people and cultures have a big breakfast. Typically the metabolism reacts differently.

We peak at different time. Our metabolism is very unique. Some people cannot eat late as people cannot sleep well.  Trying different options can be experimental and helpful and the body will tell us.  

Finally, there is a strong association between eating mindfully and skin health (spots and acne).

 Alcohol can make break out sometimes.

Some thoughts on craving.

A craving feeling is linked to an emotion, but not necessarily (it is also directed to one specific food).  Hunger implies more flexibility, depending on what is needed and requested by the body.  Clarissa likes broccoli (I really love them, as well!).  And of course there is a connection between skin health and food, related to drinking enough water, as well. We tend to love cooking for other people.  

Do you prepare food mindfully too?

Chopping onions for example. This can be a meditative practice in itself.

Link to the insta live:

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