By Jessica Brodie
ROCK HILL—One woman’s personal journey with mindfulness in nutrition is impacting her faith, and she’s penned a book to help others share that, too.
Lacy Ngo, a registered dietician nutritionist and member of St. John’s United Methodist Church, started becoming interested in nutrition in middle school, when other kids would poke fun at her because she was heavy.
“I became weight obsessed,” Ngo said.
She studied human nutrition at Clemson University and got her master’s at Winthrop, she said, “And I learned amazing things food can do for my body that have nothing to do with weight. But still, I was weight obsessed.”
Listening to the body
Then she began to hear about something known as “mindful eating.” She took some continuing education classes to learn more.
“I loved it! It’s all about listening to our body, paying attention to how our bodies feel when we eat something,” Ngo said.
A lot of mindful eating involved pausing before starting a meal and pausing between each bite, which for her as a woman of faith, naturally turned into a time of prayer.
“I started realizing how miraculous food was. Think about it—our bodies can’t survive by themselves, they need things that grow out of the ground, stuff that helps our mood and mind, helps us think and have energy,” Ngo said. “That’s what the mindfulness led to: God and what God has really given us.”
While sometimes she still eats that cheeseburger and fries, when feeling nostalgic and thinking about memories with grandparents, mindful eating has taught her if she eats that way two days in a row, she’s not going to feel very good.
“I became really mindful of my choices, and it really changed my health, my mood.”
She’ been going through what she calls a “season of sadness,” and when she began to change her food, not only did her mood improve, but so did her seasonal allergies and her asthma.
“Ironically, I even lost weight,” she said—even though she wasn’t actively trying to do so.
Noticing ‘God moments’
When she realized how much that pause during eating helped her, she began incorporating a pause in other aspects of her day.
“I decided, actually made a goal, that I’m going to pause and pray before I go into anyplace, into kids’ school, the park, the grocery store, the bank,” Ngo said. “I started experiencing God moments, all these goosebump moments from taking the time to notice God’s presence.”
For her, it was a way of honoring the command in the Bible to pray continuously (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).
From a blog to a book
An expressive person, Ngo has loved writing since childhood, so naturally she wanted to share her discovery with others. Her pastor at St John’s at the time, the Rev. Rett Haselden, had been preaching a series on following God’s call in one’s life, so she decided to start writing some of her observations. It turned into a blog.
Then, she started St. John’s Faith, Activity, Nutrition (FAN) program, a conferencewide church project, and it started to click.
She ended up writing Faith, Mindfulness, and Nutrition, and it happens to include several “goosebump” stories of God today that take place at St. John’s UMC—two at St. John’s Book Club, one on a Sunday morning and one during a financial campaign.
“It’s a story about how faith-based mindful eating helped me make peace with food,” Ngo said. “But the real impact happened when I incorporated faith-based mindfulness in not only my eating, but also my everyday life. I now notice God more in my life and get to experience more goosebump moments (now that I take the time to notice).”
Ngo also has two other books, “The Nourishing Meal Builder” and “Mindfulness in Faith and Freezer Meals.”
All are on Amazon and on her website, mindfulnessinfaithandfood.com.
You can also watch a video of Ngo reading an excerpt from the book at https://youtu.be/r7pnPKWOStE.