A new word entered my world and I can’t shake the meaning. This word – Ahimsa – means “do no harm”. It is a sanskrit word to abstain from causing injury. As a wellness practitioner, I’m very aware of the Hippocratic Oath to do exactly the same – cause no harm – as a way of practicing ethically sound medicine. Usually, this intention is towards others. But what if we promised to “first, do no harm” to ourselves?
As I look at individual health and wellness goals, I wonder – What if we practiced an Ahimsa diet? What if, instead of starving and depriving ourselves with diets and restrictions we simply practiced loving and nurturing ourselves…in other words, doing no harm?
Often diets lead us down a path that harms our body both mentally and physically. Research shows that roughly 80% of diets fail and dieters tend to gain back more weight than before they started dieting! This sporadic loss and gain of weight can wreak havoc on the body creating metabolic and hormonal dysfunctions. It also can contribute to negative feelings related to body image, along with shame and guilt around eating.
But an Ahimsa Diet – an oath to do no harm to the body and mind – is a loving and compassionate way to care for the body. Ahimsa embraces the heart of Mindful Eating where judgment and self-blame are thrown out the door! Mindful Eating practices tuning in and listening to your body’s needs, preferences and pleasures. It is a harmless way to meet your health goals.
Mindful Eating avoids strict rules and provides guidelines instead. It is a guide to understanding yourself and creating a positive relationship with food. Here are some of the basic steps in mindful eating:
- First, recognize that there are no good or bad foods; only sometimes and always foods.
- Second, listen to your individual hunger and fullness cues, eating when hungry and stopping when comfortably full.
- Next, savor your food – love every bite and appreciate the energy it gives your body.
- Lastly, show self-compassion with your health and eating journey. There will always be ups and downs and setbacks. No need for shame and guilt here; simply love yourself and start again.
There is a process to Mindful Eating. It is easy in theory but can be hard in practice if you are not familiar with your body. If you’ve been living mindlessly, disconnected from your inner wisdom and bombarded with marketing and media campaigns to eat or not eat, buy this and buy that…
This is where a Mindful Eating Health Coach can be your best ally. They can guide the process and help to keep you on track and tuned in. But if you choose to journey alone, the easiest place to start is to take a deep breathe, pause and remember, Ahimsa.