How to Eat With Intention: Interview With Author and Meditation and Wellness Teacher Cassandra Bodzak

I was recently lucky enough to connect with my new friend Cassandra Bodzak, meditation and wellness teacher and author of the new book Eat With Intention: Recipes and Meditations for a Life that Lights You Up!, out November 15.

Cassandra struggled for years with unhealthy dieting, stomach pains, and food allergies. It was only when she began to listen to her body, connect more deeply with her intuition, and ultimately, both eat and live with intention that she transformed her life. 

She believes our “Wellbeing Trifecta” — food, meditation, and self-care — lays the foundation for bringing peace and balance to every area of our lives. If you’re ready to start bringing more intention to your eating all that you do  please check out this interview and consider picking up Cassandra’s book in next month!

What were your biggest struggles with food and your body before you began your healing journey described in your new book?

For me, it was always about not feeling skinny enough. From an early age (we're talking like kindergarten here), I got it in my head that I was overweight and spent all my energy trying to get smaller. As I got older, that manifested into yo-yo dieting, overexercising, taking all different weight loss pills, and being chronically unhappy in my own skin.

How did meditation and other mindful practices help you heal your relationship with food and your body?

Mindfulness practices like taking a body inventory and focusing on my gratitude for each part of my body and it's miraculous job really helped shift my relationship with my body. I learned to care for, respect, and nourish my body, instead of feeling like I was waging a war against. Meditation, in general, is very helpful for releasing any sort of dis-ordered, compulsive, or plain old 'fear-based' thought patterns because it allows you to connect to the truth of who you are which is far beyond any of those thoughts. Daily meditation also gives you what I refer to as "the miracle moment" or those few seconds before you are about to go down that road (towards the thoughts and behaviors that are harming you) so that you can see what's going on and consciously choose again. Through a regular practice of meditation and checking in with my body, I'm also able to use my body to tap into my inner guidance as well as connect to what my body specifically needs to feel and operate at it's best.

What is the Food Mood Journal? Why does it play such an important role in creating sustainable change in one's eating habits?

A food-mood journal is a log where you write down what you eat every day and how you feel during and after you are eating it. It's not about changing your habits or choices, it's just about seeing with your own eyes where you are operating on auto-pilot and what foods you're eating that might not be serving you. Keeping a food-mood journal is so transformative for people because it not only forces you to be more conscious about your food choices but it also puts the power back with you to start making the associations between your actions and their results. So many of us don't even realize that it isn't normal to be tired, foggy, or uncomfortable after meals or which foods we reach for when we're stressed out. When you write it out for a few weeks, you can really see it for yourself.

What does eating with intention mean to you? 

Eating with intention means having a continuous loving conversation with and deep respect for your body as well as a free-flowing creative relationship with your nourishment. It's flexible, it's fun and it's empowering. Eating with intention is showing up each day, checking in, and seeing what your beautiful god-pod want's to be fueled with, how it wants to move and what's going to make it feel and work it's best. And then honoring that and listening.

How does this practice support your intentions in all areas of your life?

I truly believe our "Wellbeing Trifecta" of food, meditation and self-care lay the foundation for how we show up for everything else in our life. Our body is a beautiful channel for great work in the world and if we aren't properly nourishing it, we disconnected from what it truly needs and we are not giving it the rest and care it needs, then we have totally severed a massive connection to the inner guidance we all need to live our best life. Meditation is incredibly powerful and can be amplified or muffled by our instrument (our body) just as food and self-care are important but meditation really allows us to sink in even deeper and connect to our truth. We need all three, we need to take care of our foundation if we want to truly feel lit up and alive.

What advice do you have for women who are still struggling and feel like they've tried every dietary theory out there? 

Take your power back! That’s my message with Eat With Intention. Let's stop giving our power away to every expert in the trendiest fitness magazines or on Instagram. Let's tune back in to OUR OWN divine wisdom because that is the only place you will find the answers that work for you. Nothing has worked before because they were never aligned, because you weren't listening and mostly likely because you weren't coming at it from a place of deep love, respect and care let's be honest  you were fighting your body. "Eat with Intention" is about releasing everything you've heard before and finally asking your ultimate resource: YOUR BODY. These tools are for you to reconnect and start a loving conversation that will go on for the rest of your days on this planet.

If you're ready to hit the ground running, take your power back from food, and start living with intention in all areas of your life, I highly recommend we connect here.

And if you live in New York City, I invite you to my upcoming mindful eating workshop on October 22, where we'll practice yoga, meditation, tuning into our body's unique wisdom, and eating with awareness and grace. I'll share easy tools that you can start using right away. I would love to see you there.

What Energy Do You Bring to Your Food?

My relationship with food has had its ups and downs, to say the least. But I’m grateful for the rocky road that led me to where I am today, because it's taught me fundamental lessons about myself and my life that I would not trade for the world.

One lesson that changed the game for me: The energy you bring to your food is a reflection of what you're feeling within. 

At a very young age, I found comfort in food when I was lonely. I woke up early, snuck snacks from the kitchen before my parents got out of bed, and shoved the wrappers in between the couch cushions. In my teens, I stayed up late and secretly binged to numb the pain of having few friends and feeling like an outsider at school. No amount of food was ever enough to fill the void.

In my 20s, I was fed up with my body and weight loss obsession took hold. Over the course of a few years, I lost over 40 pounds, ran a marathon, cut out sugar, dairy, gluten, soy, grains, and preservatives, and ate an organic whole foods diet. While I gained superficial confidence, no way of eating or exercising ever made me feel whole. So I pushed myself harder and grasped for more control.

Whether I was mindlessly eating or strictly following a diet, I was constantly trying to avoid or control feelings that I didn’t want to feel. 

I kept searching for something outside of myself that would fill me up and bring me peace of mind and body, but nothing worked. Over time, I began to approach most food - even the healthiest of vegetables - with fear, anxiety, shame, guilt, self-deprecation, or a mixture of negative emotions - whether I knew it or not.

I reached a point where I no longer wanted to control food and my body. I knew I had to let go, but didn't know how to stop. I feared gaining weight, but also feared restriction. I didn't know how to accept or listen to my body. I didn't know how to change my ways without swinging back to the other far end of the spectrum where I would overeat. 

The lesson I needed to learn: No matter what type of relationship you have with food, it's a direct correlation to your relationship with yourself, the world, and your life. If your self-esteem, safety, security, or purpose are out of alignment in any way, your eating habits are going to be too. 

It took me a long time to learn, and even longer to accept, but I finally realized that I needed to look at the energy I was bringing to my food, in order to understand and ultimately address the root causes of my disordered eating. Once I accepted this was the path I needed to take, everything began to shift.

To begin shifting your relationship with food, look within and ask yourself:

  • What energy am I bringing to my food? (Controlling, rushed, fearful, mindless?)
  • If I'm mindlessly eating, what feelings am I trying to avoid? (Pain, loneliness?
  • If I'm controlling my food, what feelings am I trying to control? (Fear, stress?)

When you avoid, control, and restrict, you block your connection with your intuition and your body's innate wisdom, which blocks sustainable healing. In order to create permanent change, you must practice raising your awareness, get passionately curious, and address the energy at the root of your eating struggles.

Good news: As a complement to the deeper practice, you can jumpstart your shift by proactively bringing positive and loving energy to your food. Experience what it's like to be present. Use mealtime as an opportunity to practice how you want to act and who you want to be.

What do you want to bring to the table? If you feel called to learn more about how you can increase the energy you give and get from your food, I’m excited to share that I will be hosting a FREE workshop at WeWork Soho South in Manhattan on Wednesday, September 7, 2016, 6-7:30pm.

And if you're ready to dive in, do the deeper work, and transform your relationship with food, your body, and yourself, I highly recommend you connect with me here.

Sending you love and light!


How to "Be the Change That You Wish to See in the World"

Believe it or not, there is no reliable evidence of Ghandi ever saying, “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” But to me, his similar yet different, documented words speak even more truth today:

“If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. We need not wait to see what others do.”

Many well-intentioned bystanders with love in their hearts are searching for ways to help put an end to the hate, violence, and separation that plague our country and our world. This selfless desire grows with every selfish, heinous, and unjust act we see in the news and in our communities. 

Some people lash out with passionate words, begging for the madness to stop, for someone in power to do something, to lay down a law that will turn things around. Others humbly speak up and ask what they can do to support those who are wounded, oppressed, bitter, and devastated. And even more share their prayers for peace.

Yet the hate, violence, and separation continue to gain momentum, and the upcoming presidential election leaves many feeling lost, confused, and hopeless.

While Ghandi's message may be hard to comprehend as a solution to a problem fueled by rage, fear, sadness, disconnection, power, and misunderstanding, every fiber of my being believes its the only real answer.

If we look within and change ourselves, the tendencies in the world will also change. As we change our own nature, the attitude of the world will change. We don’t have to wait to see what others do. We don’t have to wait to follow someone else’s lead. We don’t necessarily need to become aggressive activists, join a protest, or start a support group (though all of these efforts are to be commended).

We are all desperate for systemic change, especially those directly affected by each tragedy and the leaders in charge of bringing order back to our society. I don’t deny for a second that wise, conscious decisions need to be made as soon as possible. 

But for those of us sitting here deeply shaken by recent events with a genuine desire to make a difference, I see this as a clear opportunity to become more aware of our own thoughts, choices, and actions, in every moment of every day. 

Take a look at your own experience, both internal and external. Be kind to yourself and others. Show compassion for yourself and others. Forgive yourself and others. Respect yourself and others. Believe in yourself and others.

Pay attention to what you’re actually thinking and projecting each day. Don’t paralyze yourself (and the world) with the limiting belief that there’s nothing you (or anyone else) can do to make a significant impact in the fight for love.

Let go of the thought that we are too far gone as individuals and as a human race. Don’t fuel negative energy by holding onto the thought that nothing you do will ever be enough to transform reality. 

Instead, rise up and be a beacon of love and light in your own life. Use the energy you feel in reaction to the devastation, hate, and fear. Allow it to give you strength in shifting your thoughts and beliefs about yourself and every person with whom you connect. 

We are not separate. If you believe we are not separate, show compassion to yourself, those you meet, and those you pray for. If you believe that the violence should end and we should find a way to love and respect each other, start by focusing on your own thoughts, choices, and actions.

Remember Ghandi's words not only when you contemplate the ongoing violence, upcoming election, and current state of our nation, but also when you wish to see a change in your personal experience, whether you desire to change your body, health, relationship, career, etc.

Don't be fooled. You always have the power to choose. You have the power to stop, evaluate yourself, and change your own nature, which will then reflect in the world around you.

Don’t underestimate the power of your own consciousness. 

If you feel called to change your relationship with food and your body so you can show up every day as your highest self, I invite you to sign up for a free consultation

This consultation is my gift to you, with zero obligations attached. My goal is to help you get crystal clear about what changes you desire to make, what's holding you back, and the best next steps for you to move forward in your pursuit of freedom. 

You can also come see me at my upcoming mindful eating and meditation workshop at Kundalini Yoga East in New York City on Saturday, August 13! Learn more about the event and sign up here

Sending you love and light!