Wednesday, March 20, 2013

My Chocolate Moratorium


suspension of activity

This has been the most difficult habit or activity that I have curbed in recent times.I am CHOCOLATE SOBER from the 3rd of January,2013.People who know me really well know how much I love the taste of chocolate or should I say loved ? 

The first 3 days were crazy and very difficult (truth be told) but over time,I have realized that there is no craving at all.Very simple yet profound,I am bigger than an inanimate square or bar of pleasure.

It is one of the most common cravings in the world..But,where is that line between a craving and an addiction ?

If you cannot do without a piece of chocolate everyday,that is definitely termed as an addiction.

We generally crave foods due to external prompts and our emotional state, rather than actual hunger. We tend to be bored, anxious, or depressed immediately before experiencing cravings, so one way of explaining cravings is "self-medication for feeling miserable".

Chocolate is the most frequently craved food in women, and many women describe themselves as ‘chocoholics.’ (men,too)..come on gentlemen we like company (in wellness and in health and in moratoriums).Chocoholics insist that it is habit-forming, that it produces an instant feeling of well-being, and even that abstinence leads to withdrawal symptoms.

When we eat sweet and high-fat foods, including chocolate, serotonin is released, making us feel happier. This partly explains the cravings common in seasonal affective  disorder (SAD) and pre-menstrual syndrome.
In many women, the craving occurs on a monthly cycle, which suggests a hormonal issue. A recent report in the New Scientist magazine suggests people can become overly dependent on the sugar and fat in fast food. Dr. John Hoebel ,Princeton University researcher found that rats fed on sugar became anxious when the sugar was removed. Their symptoms included chattering teeth and the shakes – similar to those seen in people withdrawing from nicotine or morphine. Dr. Hoebel believes high-fat foods stimulate opioids or “pleasure chemicals” in the brain. This theory is backed up by many other studies.
Just think about it,there is a reason why refined sugar and other "addictive" substances are both powdery white in colour ?.EUREKA..

My "moratorium"journey has been filled with different observations and I am making non-chocolate choices and surprisingly there are many of them..I am not going to beat myself up and be on a chocolate moratorium for life but this is definitely a good start.Hoping that I would inspire my good friend,very visible chocolate addict Hari to quit.

Chocolate contains several biologically active ingredients, all of which can cause abnormal behaviors and psychological sensations like those of other addictive substances. Researchers at the University of Tampere in Finland found that self-proclaimed chocolate “addicts” salivated more in the presence of chocolate, and showed a more negative mood and higher anxiety. 

Chocolate is seen as “naughty but nice” — tasty, but something which should be resisted. This suggests that the desire is more likely a cultural phenomenon than a physical one. The inability to control eating may be a result of inborn traits and today’s environment.
“Humans used to have to search for food,” according to Baylor College of Medicine researcher Dr. Ken Goodrick. “Now food searches us out.”

The stress of modern living often makes us turn to food for comfort, then return to a restrictive diet. The attempt to restrain ourselves before we are satisfied increases the desire for chocolate.

HOW TO QUIT CHOCOLATE (at least for some time..)

For most chocoholics,giving up chocolate for more than a week seems completely impossible..
But,just imagine how you would feel if you had more power than something that is wrapped in paper !?!

I ask many of my patients to give up or restrict many food items during the course of their treatment for different ailments.So,I decided to put myself to the test and the following are tried and tested (by me) and believe me..they WORK..

1.First of all it is important to determine if your craving for chocolate is emotional..
Stress is a very common reason..emotional stress..issues with your primary relationship or friendships..self-esteem..anger or even depression..
I realized that for me it was a combination of not having enough time to do the things I really wanted to do for myself and my wellness.Some relationships that had suddenly gone bitter and sad.Some situations where I had no closure and so on.All our lives are similar and I realized very quickly that I was using chocolate as my "feel good" drug of choice and I was not going to continue on that path.I just told myself so.

2.I realized that moderation is "not" the key.Like I often say in my lectures,you can never be a little pregnant.You are either pregnant or not.It is that simple.Very binary.
I did try to quit in December last year and my internal sense of moderation was completely messed up when the stresses and emotions of everyday life built up.
Matters were made worse by a visit to New York and "Chocolate by a Bald Man"(fantastic place to visit,taste and rejoice when you are planning your chocolate moratorium).
So,I decided to quit cold turkey..NO MORE CHOCOLATE was my mantra of quitting and it has worked so far.It is beyond will and self control.It is a constant dialogue,sometimes a monologue,in some instances,silence.But,it works..

3.Do not eat anything especially chocolate if you are bored.I do not have this issue cause I am seldom bored but if you are feeling bored and/or restless.It is a good idea to distract your mind with a book,a new recipe,emails,cleaning your clutter,running errands or calling a friend.The craving will pass.

4.I always eat healthy but I have kept and keep even more healthy food nearby.I ate and eat more fruits ,cut vegetables and marinated vegetables.I replaced my sugar or chocolate craving with Justin's vanilla or maple almond butter.Even though I knew this in theory,I realized that when my blood sugar levels were stable,I did not have any cravings.I also started journaling times and emotions of when I felt the cravings.It gave me an opportunity to understand the origin of my cravings and I realized that succumbing to chocolate was just a cover-up procedure.The end result,I know myself better from a deep place within.

5.I did NOT throw away all the chocolate from my home or my work.I kept it all and initially would see it often and salivate but then over a period of time,it is there and I am there and I do not have any emotions or cravings towards it.When I finally decide to give up on my moratorium,I will have a little bit here and there but I know for sure that the craving will not be as severe as before,especially last year.

6.I have had that stubborn 23.5 lbs to lose for years.(I have no one except myself to blame).This seemed the best time.I have a fabulous support group of friends who go to the gym with me almost everyday and I do take walks with people who I have to meet rather than be in a closed office space.The outdoors does a lot of good and who does not like fresh air !
My excess calories are burning and my metabolic rate is on the rise.Exercise releases endorphins,which works against stress and hormonal imbalances.

7.List the people in your life who you are truly grateful for and dedicate your moratorium to them.

8.Find an alternative energy boost.Some things that have worked for me are steamed kale or spinach,almond butter,goji berries,fresh fruits and marinated vegetables.

9.Go see your dentist,you will be told that your chocolate habit has not been kind to your teeth.That will inspire you to commence your moratorium.

Chocolate addiction is not a "true addiction".But,the release of endorphins brought about by eating chocolate creates a physical dependency to obtain the mood "high" over and over,thereby suggesting it is possible to be addicted to chocolate.What I understood is,however you "sugar"coat it,it is hard to resist chocolate..A combination of craving,physiological reasons,emotions,taste and a sugar high is like trying to fight off a dragon that is breathing fire at you when your ship is caught in the high seas.Yes,it is that bad..

There might be other reasons,some very deep rooted in your sub-conscious,some from childhood,fears,etc that are contributing to such behavior.It is a good idea to start journaling to get some of these emotions out of you..In some severe cases,if you find yourself hoarding chocolate in a stash,it is time to see a therapist.

If you find yourself arguing that chocolate has benefits,the famous "anti-oxidant excuse",as I call it.You are lying to yourself and convincing yourself that your chocolate does not have nutritionally empty calories,when in reality it does.This will add to your weight issues if you are on the fat battle or will contribute towards making you a low energy person.Chocolate definitely has benefits,good health benefits,antioxidants et al but the fat and the sugar content do not help.

Maybe,you are not happy until you have consumed your chocolate everyday.Maybe,it has taken over your life as a habit.This prolonged habit is creating chemical imbalances in your body.Sure enough,the one square of chocolate soon becomes one bar.Create a healthy habit,if you have issues with your will power,do not keep chocolate at work or at home or in your car or in your purse or in your anything.Humans are hunter gatherers by DNA and we WILL find it ,if we know it is there.
Maybe,your body is signaling you to stop eating chocolate and you are so addicted that you do not stop to notice or you just succumb and ignore.
The truth is you will lack in energy,half an hour or so after eating chocolate,what is other wise called the sugar crash and most people eat more chocolate to counter act this effect.
I do have some patients and friends who just plain lie about eating chocolate,because they know that they have people in their life who will disapprove.Many also do not tell the truth when asked out of shame.People feel that they have betrayed those who love and care about them.
I have noticed that my skin is doing much better.I do not have even the occasional female monthly breakouts.I do not put my body through nutritional stress or strain.I tell myself that I own my body and I am going to take very good care of it.
I have a patient who is on minimal wage but she has a strange addiction to very expensive brands of chocolate and she told me recently that most of her cheque is going towards chocolate.I told her to meet a financial manager and he was able to help her with what a therapist failed at.Choose your "help"heroes.
Many eat chocolate as a meal to save money,especially students.Common brands have other crap as ingredients and it is inexpensive and readily available.
You could probably be addicted to it because of the mere pleasure and memory of chocolate.The fact that it helped you heal through a miserable break-up or a pink slip or so you think.

Once you have identified the reason or reasons behind what is making you crave chocolate,deal with it in a very healthy and methodic way.Be sincere,kind,calm,compassionate and patient with yourself.

Do not substitute other unhealthy foods to take the place of chocolate..Make healthy choices.Think of your body as a place of worship.No littering allowed.

It is normal to feel withdrawal symptoms.Distract and do not procrastinate on the start date of your moratorium.Some people even get flu like symptoms when they quit.Some have emotional highs and lows,Some even get depressed.Drink a lot of water,take a walk,stay motivated.Keep your friends and family in the loop to help.

I have more respect for myself now and it feels good to know that I am the boss of my body.No craving is worth the treasure of your wonderful mind,body and soul..

If you would like to connect and share your journey with me,please do email me on

Good Luck !

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

and this is life...

One of the most trying times of my life but I still approach it with a smile..The fact that I do my TM program with gratitude every morning and night definitely helps..

In the name of the freedom of speech,there are some people who have sold their souls and have taken to writing about others..rather crudely..very unhealthy and very disappointing..Many have been the target of such abuse and so have I.
... but I will not give permission to be abused..

As many masters have said,"if you are doing something good,people will always say nasty things about you and if you do not hear enough nasty things,it means you are not doing enough good things."

I am a mere mortal who loves to take care of people.I love to cook with the traditional ways intermixed with flavours of the world..My aumcuisine reflects who I am..AUTHENTIC..UNIVERSAL AND MEDITATIVE and the beautiful thing about life is nobody can take that away from me..
Ayurveda and its vedic magic is in my genes and my blood..It is as natural as breath..effortless and nurturing..

I actually love it in some sense when negativity brews on the internet..If people have to believe words written by people they do not know rather than believe and trust people who they is better they walk different paths..

I am not upset just curious on how people have the time to write without any basis.

Rumi has the words and the explanation of such happenings as below.


Whatever comes, comes from a need,
a sore distress, a hurting want.

Mary's pain made the baby Jesus.
Her womb opened its lips
and spoke the Word.

Every part of you has a secret language.
Your hands and your feet say what you've done.

And every need brings in what's needed.
Pain bears its cure like a child.

Having nothing produces provisions.
Ask a difficult question,
and the marvelous answer appears.

Build a ship, and there'll be water
to float it. The tender-throated
infant cries and milk drips
from the mother's breast.

Be thirsty for the ultimate water,
and then be ready for what will
come pouring from the spring.

A village woman once was walking by Muhammed.
She thought he was just an ordinary illiterate.
She didn't believe that he was a prophet.

She was carrying a two-month-old baby.
As she came near Muhammed, the baby turned
and said, "Peace be with you, Messenger of God."

The mother cried out, surprised and angry,
"What are you saying,
and how can you suddenly talk!"

The child replied, "God taught me first,
and then Gabriel."
    "Who is this Gabriel?
I don't see anyone."
  "He is above your head,
Mother. Turn around. He has been telling me
many things."
  "Do you really see him?"
He is continually delivering me from this
degraded state into sublimity."

Muhammed then asked the child,
"What is your name?"

"Abdul Aziz, the servant of God, but this family
thinks I am concerned with world-energies.
I am as free of that as the truth of your prophecy is."

So the little one spoke, and the mother
took in a fragrance that let her surrender
to that state.
  When God gives this knowing,
inanimate stones, plants, animals, everything,
fills with unfolding significance.

The fish and the birds becomes protectors.
Remember the incident of Muhammed and the eagle.

It happened that as he was listening
to this inspired baby, he heard a voice
calling him to prayer. He asked for water
to perform ablutions. He washed his hands
and feet, and just as he reached for his boot,

an eagle snatched it away! The boot turned upsidedown
as it lifted, and a poisonous snake dropped out.

The eagle circled and brought the boot back,
saying, "My helpless reverence for you
made this necessary. Anyone who acts
this presumptuously for a legalistic reason
should be punished!"
  Muhammed thanked the eagle,
and said, "What I thought was rudeness
was really love. You took away my grief,
and I was grieved! God has shown me everything,
but at that moment I was preoccupied within myself."
The eagle,
   "But chosen one, any clarity I have
comes from you!"
    This spreading radiance
of a True Human Being has great importance.

Look carefully around you and recognize
the luminosity of souls. Sit beside those
who draw you to that.
 Learn from this eagle story
that when misfortune comes, you must quickly praise.

Others may be saying, Oh no, but you
will be opening out like a rose
losing itself petal by petal.

Someone once asked a great sheikh
what sufism was.
 "The feeling of joy
when sudden disappointment comes."

The eagle carries off Muhammed's boot
and saves him from snakebite.

Don't grieve for what doesn't come.
Some things that don't happen
keep disasters from happening.


Monday, March 11, 2013

Driving friendly memories...

Like everyone in this world,I have had some friendships that have stood the test of time.Nevertheless,there have been some friendships that have lasted only a short while but have taught me so much.
Why some of these friendships end is a question worth pondering about..
When I drive long distances,I sometimes allow the fresh air to mingle with my locks,I turn off the music or the radio and think..think about everything and all the people I have had the honour of sharing the planet with.
Some brought a smile,some,a naughty grin,some tears,some concern and some overwhelming gratitude.
It made me wonder whether I was a good friend.Whether 'all' the choices I had made with those relationships were correct ?It made me realize very quickly that none of us are perfect,we just strive to be...
The memories that have left a lasting impact with regard to my friendships need not necessarily be associated with laughter,some had the deepest melancholy written all over it..It is the fact that we stood by each other through all that and some,which made those relationships stronger.
There are some friends who I never get to see often because they live so far away but I did realise that I think of them so fondly and ever so often.
I have realised that I do not have enemies in my life.Just friends who are not so friendly anymore.It took awhile but I realise that it is so much better to not have "bad" emotions associated with "good" memories.
I have no regrets in my life.Every day has taught me something in the form of a conversation,association or words.
However,I do have strong regrets that some people who mattered so much to me as I did to them are not physically present to share a meal,a conversation,a hug,a smile or a happening.
I do believe in my heart,that the true test of friendship is when times are tough,inabilities soar over abilities,looks fade and such but your telephone still rings,your door still gets knocks,the inbox of your email are still full,brimming with concern and love,with fond memories of gratitude.
Real friends love you for what you mean to them with none of the packaging that you come with.They love you unconditionally.They love you even if there is no glitter for awhile.
That was one long drive .The journey from San Jose to San Francisco could not have been longer and more magical.I laughed,smiled,cried and finally arrived 12 minutes early for a meeting looking like a raccoon( thanks to the breathtaking combination of tears and kajal).I probably drove slow,when the emotions were hard and fast when the joyous raptures took over my memory.
I realised that the greatest friendship in the world we all have should primarily be with ourselves,so that we are prepared for anything that is thrown at us.We have to be a good friend in training at all times.
I always remember in my heart that everything happens for a reason (though sometimes I might not really make peace with it immediately..).
Anything that shakes you from the core is for a good reason.
I do not speak "negativity" into existence anymore.(even for a second)
The true test is when everything is being hurled at you and with the greatest calmness and hospitality,you can receive it all and say,"are you done ?"..
I have so much gratitude for all my friendships,the not so good,the good,the better,the best and the greatest.They(in their own unique way) have made me the woman that I am today.
Take the time to drive..and to think of everyone...who has been responsible to make you the person you are today...
It will be worth the drive...