Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Eat in Good Company ~ An Important Ingredient!

The power of dining together can't be denied.

Purposely sitting down with one or two people, or a table full of people ~ brings a dynamic the contributes in no small way to the health and nurturing of each person present.

That's what we're doing now on Tuesday nights over at Yoga West Collective. We bring a small dish to share ~ something healthy ~ and enjoy it in a spirit of ceremony. We take a moment to give thanks for the food we're going to eat, and the efforts and produce that went into preparing it.

What's interesting is we find we don't need to fill our stomachs to feel nourished. The setting is quiet and relaxing, and there's no contention or toxic comments (often not the case at the average family dinner table). No one leaves with a stomach ache!

There's a spirit of acceptance that assures everyone sitting down together that all sincere opinions are accepted and valued (often not the case at the average family dinner table).

So we find we're not craving more as we leave. Our hunger for food, validation and connection have been satisfed.

And that's a recipe for healthy bodies and healthy spirits!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Breakfast ~ A Good "First Step"

It's a tough habit to break when you dash out the door every morning and grab a "breakfast latte" at drive through. Of course, it's because there's SO much to do... no time to sit down and eat.

If you have time to do your hair and apply make-up, or sit and watch the morning news ~ you have time to eat breakfast. To take it further, if you value your body and your health, you make the time. Do it once, and it's easier the next day.

Reinforcement for that new behavior is to notice how much better you feel when you've got some nutrition working for you early in the morning!

Try this.

Make sure you have some fresh fruit ~ berries, an apple ... anything like that, some raisins and chopped nuts, and some peanut butter and oatmeal. The next morning, cook up a bowl of oatmeal (it only takes a few minutes!), then toss in some fruit, some raisins and chopped nuts, and a teaspoon of peanut butter. Mix it up and take a bite. Take a minute to savor and appreciate all the good stuff you're taking in!

Notice how you feel as you start the rest of your day. Would the word "fortified" apply?

What you've done is jump started your metabolism to start working earlier to convert calories to energy. You've also taken in a nice amount of fiber to stave off cravings for stuff that's not so good for you. You've made a choice that benefits your blood pressure, your cholesterol and blood sugar levels ~ even your mood!

Even if you don't change another thing about your eating patterns ~ make a high fiber breakfast a priority ~ a practice ~ every morning. Remember that you're doing something good for yourself because you deserve it.

Then just pay attention. Notice what changes!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Gratitude ~ An Appetite Suppressant!

Last night at our weekly "supper" at Yoga West, we decided to add some ceremony to the experience.

First we shared our gratitude for the food we were about to eat. Then we took a few moments to acknowledge what our hearts were hungry for ~ and we validated those feelings for each other.

We found the exercise to be emotionally satisfying ~ eliminating feelings that might otherwise be confused as physical hunger.

Not a small thing when it comes to eating!

It's particularly significant because there wasn't a large volume of food to share, but it was certainly quality stuff!

We dined on a salad of sliced cooked beets that had been marinated in rice vinegar, lying on a bed of mixed greens, topped with sliced purple onion (also marinated in vinegar), goat cheese, toasted walnuts, basil, pepper ~ and then topped with a dressing of olive oil and balsalmic vinegar, with a bit of orange juice mixed in.

With that we had flat bread crackers and a tasty guacamole garnished with a generous dose of fresh squeezed lime.

To begin with, it was a very colorful presentation ~ which is also a satisfying element when it comes to food prep.

As we savored our meal, we enjoyed conversation that revolved around sharing all the wonderous aspects of living in these times.

It was both relaxing and nurturing. That's what dining together should be about ~ feeding the body and the spirit!

Why crave more?

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Exercise ~ An Important Link to Healthy Eating

It's not a good thing to be too cerebral about the whole "healthy eating" thing. That's because thinking about anything too much elevates it to mythical proportions. It's a good way to get stuck.

So factor in exercise.

It doesn't have to be vigorous ~ just moving in a way that gets you out of your head. The most effective way to make that happen is to do it when it's not convenient; when you have a million reasons why "tomorrow" would be better.

Psychologist Roger Mallot has said, "If you want to change your life, change one thing you do every day." That means when you pass by the cupboard where yoCheck Spellingur Cheetos reside and reluctantly tie up your tennis shoes and head out the door for even a ten minute walk, you'll return with a different brain chemistry than when you left.

That will change even more the day after that ~ and even more the day after that. It's called "discipline" because you may not want to walk every day ~ or do yoga stretches, or ride your bike, or run ~ but you do it anyway.

As a result of that, your relationship with food changes because you've changed. You're less stuck. Then the choice between whether to eat an orange or a brownie gets easier.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

A Bit of Housekeeping...

No amount of resolve or cooking know-how can survive a cluttered, disorganized kitchen, and a crowded refrigerator with spoiling food to the back and down below. It hardly motivates you to put on your apron ~ but rather to grab your car keys and head for carry-out.

But changing that isn't as daunting as you would think. At the start of this new year, I've contributed some tips that might be helpful.

Get rid of duplicate cooking utensils, and pot or tupperware lids with no matches.

Dump any expired spices or other food items, including any spoiled vegetables or fruit in the fridge.

Create a clear counter space. Don't use it as a temporary desk!

Stock a simple pantry with items you would frequently use for healthy eating, including canned tomatoes, pasta, broths, a variety of beans, olive oil, oatmeal and a few spices like cinnamon, red pepper flakes, basil, oregano and cumin. Always have a few onions, stalks of celery, carrots and potatoes on hand for a quick soup!

Oh, yes ~ and remember to unload the dishwasher after every washing so dirty dishes can go right in, rather than stacking them in the sink.

Just a few of these changes can make your life a lot easier!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Consider HOW You Eat

For years I never considered HOW I ate until a friend made a comment that whenever we had lunch, I was always finished eating long before she took her last bite. I dismissed it because nothing registered when she said that.

That was eight or nine years ago.

I finally realized that I really wasn't savoring what I ate, I was just ~ well ~ eating! Truth be known, there was little mindfulness about it, probably because my mind was somewhere else. I just wasn't present because my mind was off and running!

While what we choose to eat is certainly important, we can sabatoge our best efforts to eat well by not paying attention to how we eat.

If we slow down long enough to take a moment to be grateful for the food we have to eat, and the friends or family we're sharing it with, we're also feeding our souls as well as our bodies.

The flip side of that is that if we don't appreciate these blessings, food then becomes just the volume it takes to fill up our stomachs and our empty hearts. If we're trying to satisfy both with food we'll always crave more, because only love and gratitude can feed our hearts!