Friday, August 23, 2013

Eating with joy in your heart

 "Eat each meal with joy in your heart!"

"The way you think, the way you behave, the way you eat, can influence your life..."

Dr. Deepak Chopra

Many years ago I heard about some fascinating and intriguing research during a presentation by Dr Deepak Chopra, and after studying the original research it lead me to develop a life enhancing strategy I've called 'joyful eating' that I continue to use to this day and that I highly recommend...

Back around 1980, Dr. Robert M. Nerem and his colleagues at the University of Ohio set out to study the effects of diet on the development of coronary artery disease. To do this they fed rabbits a toxic diet of high-cholesterol, artery-clogging rabbit food. However when they analyzed the results, surprisingly they found that one group of rabbits did not have their arteries clogged with plaque, even though all the rabbits had been fed the same diet. Unable to explain why some rabbits showed less evidence of the beginning stages of heart disease, the researchers decided to retrace each step of the study and found that when the research assistant fed the rabbits, she would take out those rabbits in the lower cages so she could cuddle and pet them as she fed them, whereas for the rabbits in the higher cages she could only reach to place the food in their feeding trays and could not pet them.

Finding it difficult to believe that loving contact from the research assistant could make such a difference in the condition of the rabbits’ arteries, the researchers replicated the study in a formal and controlled fashion, making sure the only difference between the groups was loving touch. Again, the results were the same. In all, the research study was repeated three times with the same results and was eventually reported in the prestigious journal Science (Nerem et al, 1980, Science 208:1475). The findings indicated there was more than 60% less blockage and significantly less arterial damage in the rabbits that were touched and cuddled compared to those that were not. The researchers hypothesized that the effects of touch produced a change in immune function and hormone levels and therefore in how the toxic diet was metabolized.

We now know from a huge number of studies in the field of Psycho-Neuro-Immunology (PNI) that emotions and thoughts influence immune function (and are influenced in return by immune function), so it is not surprising that eating a toxic diet while experiencing loving kindness could influence how the gut and immune system processes what has been eaten. Realizing the power and importance of this, and knowing about the roles of the heart and gut brains, I created a process of joyful eating to ensure that I optimize how my body processes what I eat. Now, every time I sit down to eat a meal, I fill my heart with joy for the food I'm about to enjoy and send powerful messages from my heart down to my gut to really 'in-joy' my meal.

From the new field of mBIT (multiple Brain Integration Techniques), (described in my book mBraining) we know that the role of the gut brain is about identity, self preservation and mobilization of our resources and that up to approx. 80% of immune function is controlled and guided by the gut intelligence, so there are deep connections between how we eat, how we feel about ourselves and how our body handles what we've ingested and is attempting to digest. We also know that the heart brain is involved in the process of valuing and in guiding and leading the other brains (head and gut). So by holding love and joy in our heart as we eat, we are setting up strong signals and directions to our bodymind to really make the best response we can in how we are processing what we have just put into our system.

It's a simple strategy yet a powerful and delightful one. In a lot of ways it echoes the wisdom of spiritual traditions that for thousands of years have taught us to 'give thanks for our food' and to say grace and bless our food before eating. In a sense the joyful eating strategy is a secular version of this. It's also an easy form of guided meditation and mindfulness that sends clear signals and messages through our multiple brains to ensure we are eating from highest expression. 

And I can tell you it feels wonderful to really fill each meal with joy. Give it a go and make every meal a life enhancing experience. Start doing this today and your health and life will echo ongoingly from your new way of thinking, behaving and eating each meal with joy in your heart.

"Grace isn’t a little prayer you chant before receiving a meal. It’s a way to live."

Jackie Windspear

Grace isn’t a little prayer you chant before receiving a meal. It’s a way to live. – Jackie Windspear - See more at:
Life enhancing thoughts and wishesGrant


  1. Grant, this reminded me of when you interviewed me a few years ago! I so agree with what you are saying here. When I was a child, the meals my mother served were always excellent; but the mood at the dinner table was sometimes happy, sometimes not. And it seems my father's "indigestion" only happened when the mood at the table had been stressful. Hmmm ...

    1. Heya Jean, that was a great interview we did! And that's such a pertinent story about your family dinners and your Dad's "indigestion". We all know that when we eat when stressed we don't do a good job of digesting the food. Indeed, stress involves sympathetic activation of the Autonomic Nervous System, whereas eating and digestion require parasympathetic activation, so literally, when we are stressed we can't digest properly and that has all sorts of health and mood impacts. Eating with joy in our hearts is such a great remedy for that!

      Thanks for your great comments.

      smiles, Grant

  2. This truly great Grant, I will most definitely be implementing, I already do grace with my family and I will now add a little more colour and feeling to it :0)

  3. This is really interesting Grant. Only today i noticed when i was having my toast(gluten free processed stuff) my thoughts were around it not really being good for me vs when i had my breakfast of a mix of herbs and powerful goodies i felt great about consuming it! i will pay more attention to my thoughts around food


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