Don't worry about will power, it will take care of itself… once you've got your emotions in control.

I confess I do quite a bit of ‘emotional eating'. Is there any way I can stop myself from reaching out for snacks? How do I strengthen my willpower?

Gul B.

Essentially, work on strengthening your emotional power and the willpower will take care of itself. The mind tends to hold on to negative experiences while quickly loosening its grip on positive ones. It is what makes us ‘emotional' as we operate from a feeling of irritation against another's tyranny, hurt at somebody's indifference or frustrated at having to complete a project that we want to toss out of the window. Then, to compensate, we eat. Practise the opposite approach. Hold on to positive experiences, enhance them, magnify them. Keep their memories alive, bright. Think constantly of the good people who always bring a smile to your face due their enthusiasm, loving nature, non-judgemental acceptance of you as you are. When you operate from this secure sense of being accepted, loved, a ‘thank-god-I-belong-to-a-group-of-divine-people' feeling, then you can shrug off the negatives.

I recommend the silent singing system. Write down the first line of 5 songs that really lift your heart and spirit. Glance at one and start humming it silently in your mind. Often, it seems to hum by itself! This way, you consciously nurture your mind to stay positive and happy for longer periods until it becomes your way of being.

Simultaneously, get sufficient sleep to feel rested, exercise to feel charged and fit, eat regular meals to re-fuel and re-energise. These are not just basics, they are bulwarks for a powerful, stable life.

Finally, have a ready list of alternative activities for these emotional eating times. Instead of eating: Copy down a few beautiful passages and poems in a notebook kept for that purpose. Watch a sitcom. Get busy with a task you've been procrastinating. Getting elbow deep into it gives a vast sense of relief and erases the false inner gnawing. Research the Net on happiness and read until you feel sated and at peace.

Is it true that one should not eat fruits for dessert but have them before meals? I stopped eating kheers and puddings and switched to fruits. But now I'm confused.

Roy M.

I can understand your bewilderment. There is a rationale for the newthink though. Fruits are almost instantly digested by the stomach –much faster than any other food. So, if there is already dal, roti, or rice being broken down inside, the fruit waits in the queue and putrefies. Ergo, not only does the body not get nourished by the fruit, it doesn't absorb most of the nutrients from the main meal itself due to the putrefaction effect. This can also result in gas.

If you feel like a sweet at the end of the meal, it may only be because it's what you've been accustomed to. Just re-arrange your thinking and have a fruit about half hour before a meal — it won't feel strange. Tip: If you feel like having something after a meal, try green tea.

I suffer a lot from migraines and often miss going to work. Is there any way of preventing them? Please help.

Kalpana R.

According to a recent neurological research report, drinking more water reduces the frequency of migraines considerably. Apparently, the part of the brain that cries “I'm thirsty!” also triggers migraines. So, to start with, drink at least 2-3 glasses of water over your normal quota.

The preventive measures are pretty simple: Never oversleep. It worsens the pain. Sleep only on your back. Any other position contracts neck muscles or pinches nerves and sets off the throbbing. Do a cardio exercise — stationary cycling or walking. It de-stresses and also sends oxygen to the head. Avoid pain triggering foods: peanuts, cheese, chocolates, MSG. Eat slowly — especially ice cream! Relax. Let relaxation flow through you like a river. Don't take life seriously. It's okay not to answer the phone, not to finish a book. It's okay if somebody is not pleased with you.

Be thankful for rebuffs — they keep your life simple. Just raise your sense of gratitude to a higher level — it sweeps away tension. In bad times, be with yourself as you'd be with a friend going through a heartbreak. Wait patiently, peacefully for the unpleasant times to pass.

They will. Subscribe deeply to Sri Aurobindo's principle: “…within there is a soul and above there is Grace. This is all you need to know.”

The writer is co-author of the book Fitness for Life.

(This article was published on February 9, 2012)
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