Saturday, May 29, 2010

Between You and Me...

After a nearly year of writing these blog entries, I'm more convinced than ever that the practice of eating mindfully and healthfully evades most people ~ mainly because of the way we live.

To make a bad pun, I've found as I talk to friends and strangers, they're hungry for how to go about changing the relationship they now have with food. Over the decades since seasonal garden tending was a part of most everyone's day, we've been lured by convenience to load our grocery carts from the vast inventory of processed foods. The chemicals, along with salt, sugar and fat, have hooked us on the tastes we think make us satisfied and happy ~ not much unlike drugs or alcohol.

Most recently, it's been suggested to me that perhaps it takes being part of a larger "community" to make food preparation and eating a successful practice. There's much more to eating than just putting food in your mouth. I believe there has to be an element of ritual to make it both purposeful and healthful.

There's a benefit to "breaking bread" together, because it offers connection ~ the ultimate nurturing that we all seek!

Does it mean cooking for a lot of people?

No. I suggest you start by inviting someone to dinner.

Do it soon. See what you think!

Monday, May 24, 2010

What's Healthy? You Know the Difference!

To relieve your mind ~ there is no arrival point where you've mastered mindful eating ~ anymore than a person who practices yoga can one day say they've achieved all they can and they're done.

The practice arrives at every meal, every time you open a bag of snack food, and every time you open a kitchen cabinet or refrigerator.

Like the other night. Foolishly, my husband and I were way too busy on Saturday, working away until well past 8 p.m. We rolled right past that point where a healthier choice would have been to disengage with the day's activities and transfer into a ritual mode of preparing something to eat.

My growling stomach and an impulse to fix something fast ruled over the saner approach, which would have been to grab a handful of almonds and raisins, have a glass of water, and then decide.

Earlier that day I had fixed a stir fry of shredded sweet potatoes, minced ginger and purple onion, with a bit of lime juice and nutmeg. (It was delicious!)

Sadly, though, I drove to the store and bought a box of vegetable rolls to microwave. I had picked them up at the store because I love those oriental appetizers. (I should note here that for many years we haven't owned a microwave, but my husband recently picked up a small one for popcorn. Yes, I caved to an impulse ~ but mindfully!)

They came packaged in plastic, and as I pulled out the steaming, limp rolls after they had "cooked," my appetite was gone. I remembered the aroma and the taste of my sweet potato combination earlier that day ~ the colors so vibrant and the taste so satisfying.

Looking closely at that processed batch of vegetables rolls was a good litmus test.

I tossed them in the trash ~ mindfully!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Nothing Satisfies Like Soup!

Soup is the best meal ~ I'm certain!

It's a very efficient way to cook ~ and also get a lot of nutrients at the same time. There's not much precision involved ~ so anyone can combine ingredients in a crock pot in the morning, and be rewarded at the end of the day when meal prep is the last thing they want to think about.

For example, an Italian White Bean Soup is one of my favorites ~ mainly a combo of sauteed onion, celery and minced garlic, a couple of cans of white kidney beans (always rinsed and drained!), a can of chicken broth, and a pinch of group black pepper and dried thyme. Stir in a bunch of spinach and heat until it's wilted, then top with some fresh-grated Parmesan cheese.

Serve it with a slice of multi-grain bread and some apple slices, and you've got a well-rounded meal. There's plenty of protein in beans, so you won't miss the meat!

Another favorite of mine is Minestrone.. Again, no need to be precise when you're combining sliced carrots, celery, onion, potatoes, zucchini, cabbage, garlic, diced tomatoes and some white beans, along with a couple cans of chicken broth and a cup of water. Because the veggies are dense, this one lends itself well to crock pot cooking, so it can simmer all day!

I'll offer some to sample tomorrow, May 20th, at Yoga West at noon here in Grand Junction. I'll be presenting a session on Mindful Eating ~ Changing our Relationship with Food!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

"...Like Ten Thousand Spoons When All You Need Is a Knife!"

... and so it is in a cluttered kitchen. (Remember that song from the 90's by Alanis Morissette?)

I think of that often reflecting on the days when I couldn't find my measuring cup ~ or I had three bottles of catsup and no mustard. Or earlier days when I could only locate one set of matched earrings, but could count 15 singles ~ five of which were always at the bottom of my purse.

So when we talk of mindful eating, it's important to have some semblance of organization ~ and the staples to build a few meals.

If your counter tops are covered with bills to pay, kid mail from school back packs, half-full water bottles and an unwashed blender, it pretty much blows your opportunity that day to eat mindfully ~ unless, of course, you can locate a few baby carrots, some raisins and an apple, and then walk outside or into another room to eat it.

If you gaze into the refrigerator and aren't sure what's behind the stuff right in front of you, you probably need to toss some things ~ or not buy so much at one time. Another problem is left-overs. It's painful to throw food out, so it's important to learn how to incorporate them into meals within a day or two.

A few tips:

Except for staples, don't buy groceries for the week ~ rather for a few days at a time.

Have a fresh tossed salad in the fridge (always add tomatoes right before you eat), and some cooked rice in the fridge to partner with an entree.

Use meat as a condiment for a vegetable or pasta dish ~ rather than the main event!

Have one stainless steel water bottle and forego buying bottled water. It's money in the bank to invest in a water filtration unit.

Chop up an onion, some carrots and celery and put them in separate containers in the fridge to get a quick soup started. A can of diced tomatoes, a few potatoes and some seasoning and you have the basics for a nutritious vegetable soup! Or use those first few items in your tossed salad.

Finally, eating should not be the high point of your day ~ especially if the gratification begns and ends in your taste buds!

Don't live to eat ~ Eat to live! So find an interest that energizes you and put your focus on that!
You'll notice a new relationship with food, with the people around you ~ but most importantly, with yourself!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

You Truly Are What You Eat

Tomorrow I'm going to take the content of what I've been writing about for months and present it in a series of workshops on "Mindful Eating" at Yoga West down on Main Street.

I realize that people know what they need to eat to be healthy. They've heard it all for years. So why don't they eat better? Why is obesity such an epidemic?

It's because we have a relationship with food ~ and if that relationship is an unhealthy one, we'll have unhealthy bodies, and unhappy souls. That's the case for lots and lots of people.

Is it hard to change? Yes. But it's not complicated. The solution is simple. Again I reference Geneen Roth's new book, "Women Food and God," when she says we hold onto this dysfunctional relationship because we don't know that we can live without it.

We're so tightly bound to the role we think we've been assigned, we assume we're stuck ~ and food temporarily adds a coziness to the situation. Of course, it doesn't last.

It can be very complex for many people ~ but there is a way out, and you can begin feeling better just a day or two into a new approach to eating.

She concludes: "Your eating isn't about lack of willpower ~ but lack of understanding."

The workshops are at noon May 6th, 20th and 23rd. Hopefully I can provide some understanding!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Eating Is About Paying Attention

Geneen Roth says so well everything that I haven't about the importance of eating mindfully in her new book, "Women Food And God".

She basically says that eating is the arena where our issues present themselves, our feelings are strongest ~ and our opportunity for growth ever present. In her words: "How you eat tells all."

She firmly believes that most of us carry more guilt, shame, anger and sadness than we realize, and to numb that pain, food is a drug of choice.

For those who sample diet strategies to lose "ugly" pounds ~ dieting is never the answer.
That's why whatever we believe about ourselves in large part drives the decision to reach for a corn dog instead of an apple.

"Until the belief is understood and questioned, no amount of weight loss will touch the part of you that is convinced it is damaged," to quote Roth.

Amidst all this chatter about what to eat ~ it's really our feelings that drive our choices. Roth suggests they are valuable guideposts if we can pause long enough to recognize and honor them.