Sunday, October 31, 2010

It Doesn't Have To Be "All or Nothing"!

If we lived in monasteries or ashrams, we'd find it pretty easy to watch what we ate. Healthy meals ~ though not gourmet ~ would be served on schedule, and we wouldn't likely have a stash of stuff to eat back in our rooms!

Life would be much slower and much more predictable.

But that's not how we live, and often the best we can do is make the intention to nourish our bodies, and be aware of the choices we're making.

The other day, for instance, I was hurrying around town and found myself very hungry at midday. I had snacked on almonds earlier (because I've made it a habit to have them close by), but I felt like I had to eat something fast!

So I stopped at McDonald's. Yes, I did!

But I gave it some thought ahead of time. I remembered that their fish sandwiches were not greasy, not huge, and fairly tasty. I asked them to cut the tartar sauce. With that, I had some raw carrots and my water.

I'm very aware that it doesn't take much to send anyone back down that addictive road laced with salt, fat and sugar, so that made it easier to just stick to the sandwich!

Again, I have to stress that just being aware makes our choices better.

Later that evening, I diced up some cucumber, tomatoes, red onion and basil, and mixed a quick dressing of crushed garlic, olive oil, balsamic vinegar and oregano to pour over it so I would have something healthier to eat for lunch the next day.

We just do our best ~ that's all. And it doesn't have to equate to "perfect"!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Are We There Yet?

That's the goal when it comes to healthy eating.

We strive for perfection, when we should be striving for balance. If you strive for perfection, there will be absolutely nothing enjoyable about the journey you're taking! Perfection is a concept that's outdated ~ and virtually useless in this context.

Take yesterday, for example. I was totally off balance. I could observe that clearly by my food choices. I had two slices of Boston cream pie at my son's birthday dinner the night before, and felt bad about that second piece. But then yesterday I was stewing about some things, and my response was to go to the coffee shop and have a slice of pumpkin cake drizzled with pumpkin icing.

I decided not to feel bad about it this time ~ but rather to just look at it as the clear choice that it was. I had to accept that, despite my best intentions, I had chosen to indulge AGAIN!

I can tell you the urge was pretty strong ~ probably because I had done the same thing the day before.

What I observed was perhaps this is how those with any addiction feel ~ remorse over a choice that takes them off balance. The conclusion: No willpower.

But that's not true.

It's not about willpower, it's about balance. You essentially set the stage for the best choices ~ and for those that aren't so good ~ by how well you nurture your body.

I hadn't been paying attention. I hadn't been eating mindfully because my attention was elsewhere ~ which is the case with anyone who's addicted. Their attention is elsewhere.

So instead of resisting what threw me off, instead I took a good, long look.

Because of that, I see things a bit more clearly than I did before.

If I'm mindful, I know that my choices tomorrow will be even better!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Reading Food Labels Is a Waste of Time!

We're WAY too hung up on reading labels. I rarely do. Simply put, if you're having to read labels all the time, you're eating way too much processed food.

I buy canned goods ~ but they're generally limited to three categories: broths, diced and stewed tomatoes, and beans. The only food items I buy in a box are oatmeal and pasta. Because I buy these items frequently, I pretty much know what's in them.

Calculating all that stuff, along with grams of fat, cholesterol and carbs makes eating pure works ~like taking a life-long math class! The reality is that many of those who so diligently do that by day, end up raiding the cupboards and refrigerator for the bad stuff at night. If you're not eating enough fruits, nuts and vegetables ~ you're body simply isn't every nurtitionally satisfied!

To make life easier, and eating more enjoyable, eat more fresh stuff than processed, packaged food ~ and move around more. And make it a practice to ask yourself what you are really hungry for when those cravings hit.

Maybe it's not food, at all!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Community Table Adds Incentive to Eat Well

That's right. Invite someone to supper ~ preferably in the neighborhood.

I'm struck by the challenge of eating well when all the resolve is solely up to you as you travel your solitary path. Lots of people decide every day that they're going to get healthier by eating better, but their best intentions fail once they hit the house they share with those closest to them.

Unfortunately, it's not often the place where we get the most support. Sure, the intentions may be there in theory ~ but the work of making new agreements and planning a new strategy involves real communication; not an arena where families ~ couples ~ often excel.

To keep the positive vibes perking, invite a neighbor to dinner. That's when everyone can brush up on their manners and put forth their better selves. You know, like saying "please and thank you" or putting bread on a bread plate instead of laying the bread sack on the table.

Conversation tends to elevate, as well ~ so instead of complaining about jobs, school, kids or ex's, talk may turn to a world of other interesting things, including how to eat healthier!

The house gets freshened up, the clutter is stashed, good food is cooking and there's the anticipation that comes with the arrival of company ~ because we're all going to like ourselves just a little bit better.

It's a good way to feed your body and your spirit!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

How Simple Can Soup Be?

Here's a delicious soup that's so easy to prepare!

Like most soups, you can just fill your crock pot in the morning and have dinner ready when you get home that night. If you have the last of some summer tomatoes on hand that are now overly ripe, this is a good way to use them!

Gather about four pounds of the tomatoes and cut them into chunks. (To easily remove their skins, drop them in boiling water for a minute or so, and you can slip the skins right off!)

Finely chop one medium onion, a celery stalk and a carrot (use more, if you like), and saute them in a tablespoon of butter in a large soup pan. Stir in a clove of garlic and two tsp. of thyme and cook for a minute, then add the tomatoes, a can of chicken broth, some salt and pepper, a half cup of water and a bay leaf.

Heat it to boiling, and then simmer for 45 minutes. Remove the bay leaf and you're ready to serve!

If you make a larger batch, the soup will keep in the fridge for several days ~ or you can freeze it for a hot winter meal!

Eating well doesn't have to be precise! Just choose nutritious, healthy ingredients and every dish will only get better!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Simple Dishes Contributed to Luxury Vacation

I was amazed at how planning simple meals ahead made my recent get together with my sisters in Telluride an incredible bargain!

Even though we rented a luxury condo, because we brought food in and split up the food prep, it cut our costs significantly.

To eat, say, just lunch and dinner down in the village could have easily cost each of us $30 - $40 a day. Instead we dined in grand style on simple dishes, including breakfast!

We lounged, drank red wine, slept, ate, rode the gondola ~ and talked lots over those four days while we celebrated my sister's 60th!

We paired up to fix our assigned meals, while the rest kicked back and relaxed. No one had to hurry. There were no reservations to make, no restaurants to decide on, no menus to pour over, and no checks to pay when we finished.

I was surprised that all our meals were pretty much meatless. Lots of yummy vegetable dishes!

Food can be a huge expense when you travel, but it doesn't have to be!