Mindful Eating: A Restorative Boundary

brooke-lark-229136Let’s talk about some food basics. My understanding in nutrition didn’t start in academia learning about magnesium’s effect on sleep and cramps, or enzymatic malfunctions when we eat trans fats.  It was much more of an elementary beginning (well, technically high school). It all started with a cookie.

Photo by Jade Wulfraat on  Unsplash

My immune system had tanked when I was 14. As I was working to regain my health, I began to detect suppressive patterns. One eureka moment I had was during a church youth night where they had my favorite treats—cookies. After finishing one cookie and biting into a second, I noticed my nose started to run. Soon enough I was sneezing, had a sore throat, and my eyes were swelling and watering from the ensuing congestion. The next day I had yet another cold. I remember thinking how strange it was to come on so strongly and with such immediacy. I then began to notice every time I had a sweet treat, the same downward spiral would occur.


No matter our age, we can each begin to detect the positive and negative effects food has on us. Learning to recognize how foods make us feel can have a powerful impact on our health, emotions, and longevity. In fact, there is a poignant adage from ancient Eastern medicine that depicts the beautiful freedoms the foods can allow us:

If diet is wrong, medicine is of no use.

If diet is correct, medicine is of no need.” 

One simple way to know what diet is wrong or right for you is by paying attention to how it makes you feel. By learning how cookies made me feel back in my youth, I began to recognize that pastas made me feel bloated and drinking from plastic water bottles made my throat itch. I also perceived what foods were “correct” for me. Sunflower seeds became a snack that kept me satiated longer and fresh fruit curbed my sweet tooth and strengthened my immune system, thus letting “food be [my] medicine” (Hippocrates).

Photo by Brooke Lark on  Unsplash

At our most recent seminar, I shared that the way we feel affects how we fill, and vice versa. This is putting that principle to action. So for example, if we’re feeling frail either emotionally or physically, instead of further depleting ourselves with sugar spikes or caffeine, we can savor a hearty soup, like vegetable quinoa. If we’re feeling heavy, a nice avocado and berry smoothie or salad can help us feel lighter. The other side of the coin is noticing that how we fill affects how we feel. You can check in with yourself after eating and see, “Did this make me feel sick, bloated, jittery, or did it make me feel comforted, revitalized, and healthier in some way?” This is practicing mindfulness in eating.


Our challenge this month is the same that I start with every patient who sees me, whether for hormonal balance, emotional stability, or digestive support: add foods that are healing. We aren’t going to focus on cutting foods right now. As Sommer mentioned in the recent seminar, we want to build off our strengths. When we start being our own barometer, we don’t have to follow fad diets, but instead be self-regulating. We can then continue on the track of keeping healthy boundaries that nurture our well-being rather than feeling pulled or torn by other’s opinions.

Photo by Jenn Evelyn-Ann on Unsplash

Weekly Challenge

As we discuss boundaries this month in order to create more healing environments, the same end goal can be applied as we set boundaries for eating. Consider applying these goals for the next week, and work them into a new habit:


  • Have the end goal of being healthy so I can fulfill the measure of my creation
  • Perceive how foods make me feel—well or unwell. (Be honest with yourself)
  • Create a boundary to add and eat more foods that make me feel good

-Dr. Crystal Nix Dayton, DC, CAc


  1. A really useful application of mindfulness I hadn’t really thought of before, but that is so important. Thank you!

  2. That’s so great to hear, Kate! It can be challenging to describe the gradual changes to others, so I just tend to use myself as an example to encourage others along. You’re doing wonderfully just by trying to spread health with those around you, and that alone makes an impact for good. Truly, you’re acting as a whole woman linking that wholeness with those around you, so thank you for spreading the healing ripple effect!

  3. What an outstanding article. I just need to find a way to be stronger and learn to not give in so easily. I grew up drinking tea as a southern girl and now because of my faith and religion, I do not drink it. Yet, I can’t seem to stop myself from reaching for caffeine and carbohydrates as I literally crave them and often eat them as comfort. All while, I know, these things are hurting my body and therefore my spirit as well.

    This week, I’ve made a goal to work on my spirit and am now committing to work harder to pay attention to my body while setting these boundaries. I’ll be praying for the strength to be strong and make better choices. Thank you for your example and your valuable information.

    • What a wonderful goal you’ve set, Lorri! With your intention and connection to Higher guidance, I believe you’ll be equipped to overcome some of these cravings gradually. I’ve noticed if we have on hand easier foods to grab and snack that are still real and natural, we begin to make that shift. Nuts, seeds, and fruits are especially helpful because you can switch between savory and crunchy or sweet with greater nourishment and satiety than those carbs. You’re on your way! Great job!

  4. You just put into eloquent words what I have experienced & tried to explain to others for two decades! Thank you!

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