Autonomy Intrinsic to Mood & Food: Finding our own way

How is autonomy intrinsic to Mood & Food? Autonomy is self government, the capacity to make an informed, uncoerced decision. We need to be able to make our own choices to effectively take charge of our own lives, as much as possible. This might seem obvious, yet in childhood, it is common to not be able to make choices about what one eats. This lack of power can become hard-wired into our approaches to food, making us more fearful, frustrated, or less creative than we could be.

We may play out these disempowered patterns of early life in a variety of ways. Simply remembering that we have power to make choices about what we eat can shift our stories. For example, perhaps you came from a household that ate very rushed meals, yet you do better with more time. You could ask yourself, am I willing to book more time to eat now, at this point in my life? This would be an example of autonomy, giving yourself a chance to make a decision that works for you.

A great re-frame of tough stuff

Recently a colleague and friend told me a story of a rather brilliant re-frame by their therapist, of behavior related to old patterns of response. My friend was struggling to hold themselves to conventional standards for how one does something, then not doing this, and then mentally beating themselves up for it. This was taking a lot of energy. In response to this dilemma, their therapist suggested an imaginary scenario. What if you were near a large wide river with stepping stones and fog? My friend responded that they’d pause and pick their way across, find their own way. They could do this; they were willing to do this. This is autonomy, metaphorically, finding our own way safely without harm.

Autonomy intrinsic to Mood & Food

We can pause before a challenge and ask How do I want to approach this? Rather than pressuring ourselves to respond to the challenge in a particular way, more creativity and ease could arise. This is autonomy intrinsic to Mood & Food.

Another concrete example of autonomy could look like this: It could be you follow a particular path of eating, such as Ayurveda. While Ayurveda has worked well for you, you notice that certain foods recommended for your constitutional type or current condition don’t actually work that well. Rather than eating them anyway, you could exercise autonomy and decide to choose other similar foods that you do digest easily. These are the sorts of conditions discussed in both the Mood & Food course and the support groups.

Autonomy involves awareness and the willingness to make healthy choices on one’s own behalf. This can manifest in working with others. Say you’re planning a group meal with a close friend, and they suggest a menu that works for most people, yet gives you no protein you can safely eat. Exercising autonomy, you can bring up one or more additional protein options. In other words, you don’t just have to suck it up and be polite! You can work with autonomy intrinsic to Mood & Food.

About the Mood & Food course and support groups

APTYI (The Ayurveda Polarity Therapy & Yoga Institute) offered its first Mood & Food course this past spring. We’re following up with Mood & Food support groups this summer. Mood & Food support groups draw on tools from Ayurveda & Polyvagal Theory, including awareness, breath, touch (marma therapy), and journaling. The support groups work with:





            Healthy change

            Do no harm

            Seasonal food dynamics in Ayurveda

The Mood & Food course itself will be offered again this November 2023. In it, we explore how the mahagunas of Ayurveda – sattva, rajas, and tamas – mesh with Polyvagal Theory to balance the digestive and nervous systems. Using this awareness, it’s possible to change old patterns of behavior.

The upcoming support groups this summer are based in this same work. They are open to anyone who’s already taken the course, and anyone who hasn’t. Pass the word; bring a friend. Attend one, attend them all, whatever works for you. Autonomy intrinsic to Mood & Food is part of the support groups’ structure.

Dates for the Mood & Food one-hour virtual support groups

Open to all, online

June 27, 10:30 am MDT

July 19, 5:30 pm MDT

July 26, 10:30 am MDT

How to Sign Up

To make Ayurveda and this work as accessible as possible, support groups are by donation, $30 per session or whatever is affordable for you. To sign up for an upcoming Mood & Food support session, contact Amadea at To register for the course this fall, click here.


Mood & Food course & support groups

Nourishing Ourselves on Every Level: Ayurveda and the Koshas (free video)

Easy Healing Drinks from the Wisdom of Ayurveda, simple seasonal recipes

Coastal image thanks to Iza Bruen-Morningstar