Sunday, April 24, 2011

Creating Space for Mindfulness

So often eating is merely a placeholder ~ something we do when there's nothing else. It fills in the blanks when we're bored and looking for something to do. It can be something we do when we watch TV or read a book.

It can be a pacifier when we're nervous or upset. We're usually very quick to respond with food, but it doesn't necessarily mean that we're hungry. But when that happens, we have, in effect, eliminated a chance to take a closer look at why we do what we do.

Just as yoga poses or a long walk create the space to look at things differently, the same thing can happen in our relationship with food.

Sometimes it's just a matter of stopping long enough to ask if food is what we're really hungry for. Maybe we've used our eating patterns to mask other issues that need to be addressed in order to live the life we really want to live?

Over the past week, I've noticed that by just eating more raw vegetables, fruits and almonds, I've created more space to be reflective rather than compulsive as I go about my day. Maybe it translates into nothing more than to pause before I would otherwise eat foods with sugar, fat or salt ~ just long enough to consider if I was really hungry or just using food as a placeholder.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Dining Together ~ The Missing Link

It's been a dying tradition ~ dining together.

How many people use a dining room? Countertops and bar stools have become the hallmark of convenience ~ or fitting in meals on a busy ~ or not so busy ~ schedule.

And yet, I've believe that the whole chemistry of digestion changes depending on the setting ~ or the atmosphere ~ of where you eat. Makes sense. The nurturing gained from a home-cooked meal is only partly credited to the food that is served. Eating in your own home, or as a guest at someone else's, can be a healthier experience in and of itself. We all know that.

Sitting down together opens the door for human connection ~ and it's as basic a human need as food.

That's why we can confuse hunger for food with hunger for conversation, friendship, intimacy and love. That's why we eat even if we're not physically hungry ~ because some of those very important, soul nurturing pieces are missing.

It's not as if we're trying to fill an empty pit ~ the emptiness we feel is real, and so is the hunger. The key is to distinguish whether what we're feeling is emotional or physical.

The phrase "starved for attention" can be literally that. And if that's lacking, we'll attempt to fill th void with food. We know we need something when we head to the refrigerator ~ it just may not be the correct remedy.

And so sitting down to a meal with people you care about, and who care about you, feeds both body and soul.

That's how I would interpret that well-known biblical reference: "Man does not live by bread alone."

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Thoughts Before and After Pizza...

We can fool ourselves so easily when it comes to food.

That was my thought this afternoon when I stopped at Boston's Restaurant for lunch. I was hungry, and so I ordered a personal-sized pizza. I chose a spinach and artichoke pizza with sun dried tomatoes, on a crust made with whole wheat flour.

I ordered the same beverage I usually have with a meal ~ water with lemon. No sides, no appetizers, no dessert.

When I left, I'd had plenty to eat, but I decided I didn't feel particularly energetic. What would have made me feel more energized?

I had removed some of the cheese from the top because I don't eat cheese that often. There was spinach, but just a few sprigs, and artichokes, but just a few pieces. It was mostly crust.

And that was the key.

The first few pieces were delicious. And that's where I should have stopped, because what I needed was more fresh produce in the blend ~ like a few slices of avocado over a small bed of lettuce, and some apple slices!

But Boston's is a sports bar, so the strategy would have been to order a small side salad, and bring most of the pizza back in a box for later ~ as part of Monday and Tuesday lunch!

That's where planning pays off. The day before I had picked up five or six apples at the grocery store and put them in the refrigerator.

Just eating one of those before my trip for pizza would have made all the difference!