Mental Diets


Evan Bortnick

Gesangsunterricht Wiesbaden

The New Year always seems to bring with it one article after another on New Year’s resolutions, ESPECIALLY regarding new diets. I always smirk, but I read them anyway. Typical American, I know. My German friends never tire of teasing me about some new food experiment I’m off on. Lord knows I’ve exaggerated much in the past, mostly because I’m fascinated by the food-energy-fitness loop and how I can get my by-now-very-old body into its optimum. The “equation” you usually read in these articles is about calorie intake and calorie expenditure. What rarely appears is uptake and burn rate. By uptake I mean how much of what you’re eating are you actually digesting. By burn rate I mean how your body is actually using and burning off the calories ingested. No one doubts how crucial food and exercise are to fitness.

Just as crucial, but MUCH less examined, is what our “Mental Diet” looks like. What mental calories are we taking in? How conscious are we of them? How are we digesting them and what is the ‘burn rate’ for these “calories”? How do we mentally formulate our experiences to ourselves and what is the mental-metabolic answer to these formulations? We all represent our experiences internally to ourselves. This takes the form of inner conversations, inner pictures and inner sensations which flow in certain very specific directions. The clue is that much of this inner ‘digestion’ exerts a positive influence on us. Thing is, though, depending on the person, the season, the phase of the moon and a thousand other factors, sometimes this digestion becomes disturbed and breaks down. I’m sure we’ve all experienced, either in ourselves or others, that sense that things aren’t flowing like they could. And we all try and make some kind of sense of that with some kind of causal attribution:

“I’m feeling tired cause I didn’t get enough sleep.”

I’m feeling tired cause I got too much sleep.”

“I’m feeling tired cause I ate way too many carbs.”

“Maybe I shouldn’t have had that Crème brûlée for breakfast.”

“I’m feeling tired cause I’ve been thinking about that argument I had with my wife.”

“I’m feeling tired cause I haven’t been doing enough exercise.”

“I’m feeling tired cause I’ve been doing too much exercise.”

“I’m feeling tired cause transiting Venus is squaring my natal Saturn.”

I hope you’re getting a sense that you can play with causal attribution all day and not come one centimeter closer to the ‘tired’. Still, it’s your body, on some level (conscious, pre-conscious, unconscious) you got to figure it out, right? What I’ve found (after years of this kind of ruminating), is that often just asking the right question, even without any kind of answer, clicks into a new way of being.

Here’s where “Mental Diet” comes in. The kinds of questions you ask yourself and especially the ‘tone’ of voice with which you ask yourself these questions is a kind of nourishment. Even if that’s not true at all, even thinking it might be true puts you in touch with an important factor of inner life. Making this kind of nourishment conscious, the calories taken in, how they’re expended, how they’re burned and the efficiency with which they’re utilized, is often even more crucial than exercise and food. Mental Diet, as I’m trying to grasp it here, is not JUST self-talk. The pictures we present ourselves with, the sensations and emotions we allow ourselves, the inner chords and harmonies we’re constantly composing all contribute to this inner diet.

Make yourself a gourmet on this level and no matter what’s going on ‘out there’ you are and remain wealthy!

Evan Bortnick

Gesangsunterricht Wiesbaden


About evanb54

I'm a passionate, curious learning junkie--- an X-Opera Singer turned Voice Teacher, Voice Teachers Teacher, NLP Lehrtrainer, Off-Path Coach, Cranio-Sacral worker and a few other even less mainstream things. Everything I've learned or taught revolves around THE VOICE. The Voice as a tool of artistic expression. The Voice as a tool of emotional transparency. The voice as a tool of flexible communication. More information can be found at my Institute Site: The Wiesbaden Academy of the Vocal Muse Gesangsunterricht Wiesbaden, Coaching, Voice Pedagogy
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