Thursday, November 5, 2015

Does Who You Look At Make You Eat More?

In Ayurveda, digestion is approached as an experience of many things. There is what you eat, which should be foods that are healthy, pure and suited for your body type.  There is also the issue of how you eat.  One aspect of this means eating in a relaxed, pleasant atmosphere.

While digestion is a physical process, our body functions are affected by our mental and emotional state.  In reality, digestion is governed by the nervous system.  When stress activates the "flight or fight" response in your nervous system, digestion can shut down because the central nervous system will reduce or even cut off its blood flow.  This shut down affects the contractions of the digestive muscles and decreases secretions needed for digestion. Additionally, stress can cause inflammation of the gastrointestinal system, impairing it even further and making one more susceptible to infection.  Further, stress can cause people to overeat.

We see how our mental and emotional state affects digestion and our food choices.  Stress is not the only factor in our mental state.  The things we see affect our emotions too.  For example, a comedy or seeing pictures of cute animals tend to make people feel more positive and happier.

Does seeing overweight people before eating make one eat more? The answer is yes.  A recent study showed children overweight cartoon characters, and then offered them candy and other treats.  The children who saw the overweight cartoon characters ate more than children who were shown a normal weight character or a neutral item before being offered the same candy and treats.

Ayurveda teaches that consciousness impacts our health and well being because our awareness and perception of things around us affects our mental and emotional state.  In Ayurveda, the mind (or consciousness) and the body (or physical mass) influence each other and are intimately connected.  If the simple act of looking at an overweight cartoon character can impact how much food we eat, imagine the effects of the other things we see or have surrounding us on a daily basis.  Try to make your environment reflect the things you want to be.

Stay healthy & well,
Lisa

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