Every Bite Is Divine:
Frequently Asked Questions for Annie B. Kay MS, RD, RYT
Q: Where did you come up with the idea for Every Bite Is Divine?
A: This book is really a culmination of all my study of nutrition and yoga, and my own personal struggle with weight and eating. But there was a moment in 1993, when I was at the Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health, at the end of one of their beautiful soulful yoga classes, when I had a transcendent experience that changed the way I think about body image and weight. In that moment (after a week of yoga and meditation) it felt as though the top of my head opened up, and I was bathed in light from my own open heart, open mind. I experienced for the first time my physical body as divine and beautiful. While I thought I had, I realized I had never deeply internalized the ideas behind positive body image; through I’d tried for years! From that point forward, I saw most of my life from a more yogic, unified perspective. Doing nutrition counseling with people who struggle so with eating habits and my own struggle gave me lots of material and opportunities to try different strategies.
Q: Why combine yoga and nutrition?
A: For me, nothing gives me that mind-body work, stress management, and physical movement that yoga does. Yoga is a real multi-tasker in that regard. And it supports aspects of healthy lifestyle –motivation, facilitating and maintaining change – that are so challenging for so many people. I find that a healthy diet just doesn’t work without physical activity, and this is one activity that anyone can modify to do. Working yoga or another enjoyable physical activity into your life helps with some of the mental struggles around improving our diets – at some point, you have to give a little on some of the foods your mind loves but your body doesn’t – not in the quantities you’d prefer, anyway! Yoga can help integrate that transition to more conscious eating.
Q: How can you combine a scientific and a spiritual approach to weight?
A: One of the most fascinating things about science is that what we don’t know is limitless. There’s a lot of mystery in science, and spirituality is a link to mystery in our lives. A hot area of research now is around respiration (breathing) and its relationship to emotion. Yogis have been talking about that for 5,000 years! I think the research community is moving beyond a dualistic view that the body and the mind/spirit are separate. Those of us exploring the combination of science and spirit need to be vigilant about not overstating or misconstruing the science, which when you get into the spiritual side of things, is easy to do. But in practice, spirituality is a wonderful tool to motivate behavior change.
Q: Does Every Bite Is Divine really work? Will I lose weight?
A: It can, and you may – so yes. The question really should be, will I feel better? This book’s goal is to help you examine the way you view your body, eating, and your struggles with food. Then it helps you to cultivate a healthier mindset and healthier behaviors. If you do the meditations and exercises in the book, you’ll feel great. That will set the stage to finding your healthy, natural weight.
Q: Who is this book for?
A: Certainly women have born the brunt of the consumer culture’s unrealistic beauty ideal, so I’m primarily speaking to them, inviting them to rediscover their unique beautiful selves and take care of themselves in a compassionate and healthy way. But anyone who struggles with emotional eating and bad feelings about their physical body could benefit. Bodyism targets everyone now, and unrealistic men’s bodies are everywhere.
Q: What’s your yoga background?
A: I started doing yoga in 1992 in Boston, with Patricia Walden and some of her teachers, then got into a nice fiery Ashtanga practice in my fiery early 30’s. I first went to Kripalu in 1993, and while they were going through a painful period then with the loss of their leader, the yoga was a skilled embodiment of compassionate exploration, and I wanted to be part of that. I trained to be a teacher at Kripalu in 1998, and have studied there regularly since then, including for my 500 hr advanced certification. I moved from Cambridge to Nantucket, MA in 2000, and that’s when I became enamored with the masterful writings of yogini Barbara Benagh, who happened to teach in Boston. I study with her whenever I can, and went through her teacher training. Because of my clinical background I’ve been interested in therapeutic aspects of yoga, and have studied therapeutic yoga through my visits to Kripalu. One of my Kripalu classmates, the graceful Shannah Green, opened a studio on Nantucket, and I taught through her studio, The Yoga Room, while I spent 3 seasons on island. Now I weave yoga into my teaching at Kripalu wherever I can.