Sunday, October 28, 2007
Who are you? What are you about? Do you know why you are here on this earth? Do you know why you chose this existence? If you have trouble answering these questions, I encourage you to embark on a conscious journey. Seek your path. Seek your truth. Seek support in finding yourself. If you have clear answers to these questions, congratulations! The question is now, "What are you going to do with this knowledge?" Are you helping those whom you came to help? Are you continually growing and developing yourself? Again I ask, "What is holding you back?" You are a truly amazing person. You have so much to offer. The way you contribute to society is unique and perfect. Despite the way you were raised or your religious beliefs or the rules that have been imposed upon you, there is no one right way to express your talents. Find your way. Show confidence in what you have to offer and you will be respected rather than judged. Simply stated, be YOU. You are the keeper of your truth. The world needs you to let go of and move past whatever holds you back.
Saturday, October 27, 2007
What’s your truth? In the nutrition world, truth is subjective. Some people like to look at numbers and say that we need so many grams of protein per day or that one food is better because it has fewer calories. Numbers are everywhere- we look at the scale, grams of fat, calories per serving, and on and on. What do numbers tell us about how the food is nourishing us? Nothing! So much information and misinformation is out there, that most of us have become quite confused about what to eat! The truth is that there is no ONE WAY of eating that works for everyone. To find your truth, you must become more in touch with your body and food. How is this done?
Eat more organic food. The toxins in our food supply tend to muddle our brains. Pesticides and other toxins can cause “fuzzy thinking”, which takes us away from being in tune with how our body responds to food. For example, if you have a food sensitivity or allergy, how do you know if your allergy is truly from the food or from a pesticide or worse yet because you are allergic to the food due to genetic modification? (Watch “The Future of Food” for more on genetic modification.) Eating pure foods allow us to be more in tune with how our body responds to them.
Eat simply and eat more whole foods. Processed foods cause us to be scattered and unclear in our thinking and way of being. Cooking simply is easy- vegetables do not take long to prepare! The more complex our food, the more complex we become. By the same token, simple foods lead to simple thoughts and quieter minds.
Eat quietly. When you eat, spend time with your food. Instead of watching TV or multi-tasking when you eat, really focus on chewing and experiencing your food. You will start to taste the flavors and experience the textures in new and vibrant ways when you pay attention to what you eat! Paying attention is one of the first steps in discovering your truth about what food feels right in your body.
Eat with gratitude. Take time to thank the heavens and earth for supplying you with nourishment. When you eat with a full heart, your spirit and physical body receive more nourishment. You become clearer about what foods work well in your body.
Finding your truth with food is a journey. Enjoy the process of self-discovery and find someone who can guide you while you search for your truth with food. We all need mentors and guides when it comes to meeting our spiritual and emotional growth needs. The same holds true for our development with food and finding what works best for us.
In closing, rather than reading a myriad of books on nutrition, you can experiment with your body and food. Try some or all of the four suggestions above. Tune into your body’s responses and take notes. Mind knowledge can become confusing when it comes to nutrition. Body knowledge is much more empowering and helps you to find your own truth about food.
The field of nutrition is a quagmire. Contradictions abound. One source of information tells you that you need to consume all raw foods for the best health, while another extols the benefits of animal protein. How are you, the consumer expected to navigate through this maze of contradictions?
Do you know what foods work best for you? It is always helpful to have a guide. There are many practitioners claiming to have the answers for every ill. When you are choosing a practitioner, it is important to weigh your options and choose the person with whom you feel the most comfortable. If someone is trying to sell you a product… beware! Many practitioners who deal with nutrition only work with supplements. Assertions that they have the best supplement regime for your needs is a red flag. You want more than a pill. You want someone who can educate you about real food. (*Supplements can be useful in your nutrition plan, but you also need to address the foods you eat.) Below you will find my top five tips to finding someone who can guide you with your food choices.
Find someone who has a solid education and personal experience. Your guide should know how to do research on themselves with food. They should also be able to provide you with new information and new perspectives about food. Even if you have a degree in nutrition, you want your guide to be up on the latest research and be able to guide you to new insights about your body and food. Although a solid education is important, it is not the only thing that makes a practitioner reputable. They should be able to provide you with testimonials from previous clients. They should have a depth of knowledge and well-rounded perspective that surpasses something you could read in a book. (Otherwise, you could just read the book!)
Search for a guide that looks healthy. This is important. If you are getting your information from someone with dark circles under their eyes, you may want to reconsider their advice. Health comes from the inside-out. I understand that no practitioner is perfect; however, if your guide is suffering from a health condition, you may want to broaden your horizons to find someone whose appearance suggests that they know what they are doing. You want to work with someone who knows how to get themselves well and who knows how to maintain their health.
Put your trust in someone that walks their talk. Piggy-backing off number two… Look for a practitioner who takes their own advice. Find someone who understands the importance of taking care of themselves and eating well. If they aren’t eating well and caring for themselves, how will they teach you to do it? Your practitioner of choice should be competent to take care of their own health so that they can guide you with yours.
Find someone with whom you can share openly. Are you comfortable with this person? The food you eat creates who you are. It is intimately intertwined with every aspect of your life. You want to feel comfortable sharing intimate details of your life with this person so that they can help you access deeper healing in your life and with your food. A good practitioner will listen to what you have to say first before jumping into “prescription mode” or a outlining a plan. They should know some things about you and your life so they can steer you in the right direction for the implementation of your plan.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, look for a GUIDE that can help you form your personalized plan. You are looking for a facilitator to discover your deeper potential. You can get advice from a book. You can research on your own via the internet. You can get a pill from a doctor. To achieve deeper healing within yourself, you want to find someone who can guide you to look within yourself. Take responsibility in developing your plan with your guide. With responsibility comes empowerment. The food that works for your neighbor may not be the food that works best in YOUR body. Seek out guidance from someone who can help you access your body’s wisdom. Each practitioner may have their own unique methods, but the message is to find someone who can help you get to your core issues around food and empower you to make the changes you want to make in your life.
Top five guidelines to consuming quality food:
Buy organic whenever possible.
Consume whole foods rather than processed and packaged foods. (Whole grains versus a bagel, whole tomatoes versus sauce from a can, eat the orange rather than drinking only the juice)
Buy from a local farm- it is fresher and it helps to preserve the earth.
Pay attention to your emotions and your body’s response after eating.
Savor and enjoy each delightful bite!
Now that I have your attention… sorry, there is no quick fix to achieving optimal health. Attaining health is a deliberate journey, and consuming healthy food is a tool in moving forward in this journey. Where are you in your food journey? Do you provide McDonald’s with a consistent stream of income? Have you been experimenting with diets and ways of eating? Do you eat only organic, locally produced food? It does not matter where you are in your journey, the important concept to apply here is to continue moving forward. Do you feel you have discovered the best diet or way of eating for your body? Great! Now change! We need to continually make changes in our food. Our bodies change over time. They change with the seasons. They change as our stress levels change. They change as our fitness levels change. How much sense does it make to eat the same foods all the time in the midst of so much change? Our food habits must adapt in order to provide balance while we experience change.
There are three ways of eating: using a maintenance diet, a therapeutic diet, or an experimental diet. For some, macrobiotics is a maintenance diet, while for others it may be experimental or therapeutic. If a way of eating is sustainable over time with reasonable variations, it may considered maintenance. Therapeutic diets are those that are used for specific reasons for a limited amount of time. The raw foods diet is therapeutic for many. Experimental diets are used in your journey when you want to try something new and investigate the impact on your body. Juicing may be experimental. Any way of eating can be experimental, therapeutic or maintenance depending upon your rationale. I discuss these concepts as a gauge to measure where you are on your food journey.
There are no particular ways of eating that serve as a quick-fix for your health. Although you may experience substantial and dramatic results by juicing or implementing a particular diet, there is always a deeper level to health. That deeper level involves your lifestyle- your physical wellness, your mental/emotional well-being, and your spirit/soul body. Looking at these aspects of your being and digging deeper within yourself for true healing require patience. Being gentle with yourself is key as you experiment with changing your food and your health. Your relationship with food is the longest relationship you will ever have with anything. It is so important to learn how to make it a relationship that is nourishing for you. If your journey with food is relaxed and fun, you will be much healthier as a result. Impatience with yourself breeds stress. Stress breeds imbalance. Imbalance breeds disease.
How does one learn patience for the food journey?
1) Practice. Practice making one change at a time. Practice loving your body in ways other than with food. Have fun. Try exotic foods. Be adventurous and prepare a meal without a recipe! If a food does not work well in your body, make a note of it and try something else.
2) Get support. Gather support from people who will be patient with you and with the changes you are making. Who is in your life that can give you the support you need to stay committed to your journey? If this support is lacking, who will you ask to support you? You are not alone. Other people are working to improve their health with food and most likely want to be connected with you.
3) Know that you are in it for the long haul. Sustainable change does not usually happen overnight. You may have spurts of growth and times of being out of focus. This is totally normal. The important thing is to be committed to moving forward in your food journey so that when those growth spurts slow down you know that you are still moving forward if only in a small way. You only need to move one step at a time.
Is there such a thing as a quick fix for your health? I believe true healing requires patience with yourself and the process. Healthy food will help you to be more nourished on your journey to health.
“I am the Bread of Life” ~John 6:48
What is your bread? What are you passionate about? What lights your fire? What drives you? What nourishes and sustains you? Is it food? Is it your yoga practice? Is it simply your love of life?
“Man does not live by bread alone” ~Matthew 4:4
Do you have more than one avenue to recharge? If you put all your energy and passion into one thing, do you have more than one way to rebuild your energy? What you put out in life can also be what fuels you. In other words, to be in complete alignment, the things you are passionate about should also be the things that give energy back to you. Your work, your relationships, your food, and your yoga practice should all be areas where you gain a return on your investment. If you are constantly giving out without receiving, you will eventually end up drained. It is helpful to have more than one option for re-fueling.
While I am fueled by food that is nourishing for me, I am also fueled by my work, spending time in nature, meditation, and receiving acupuncture treatments. I know that to maintain balance I need multiple avenues and ways to recharge. Although I am putting time and energy into each thing, I am choosing to invest in a focused way in those things that give me back the most return. Receiving a large return for my investments is not about greed. It is about doing my work on this earth for the benefit of all. What are you choosing? Where are you investing your time and energy?
“Milk and honey are under your tongue” ~Song of Songs 4:11
What foods are you passionate about? What foods are fun for you? Which ones give you energy? Personally, this changes with the seasons and the weather. For example, I found myself becoming ecstatic about leafy green vegetables this spring. At the time of this writing, tomatoes from Pennypack Farm in Horsham are giving me a thrill! I just can’t compare the empty taste of a grocery store tomato (that has been gassed to ripen it), to the full, rich taste of a tomato straight from the vine to my mouth. I’m looking forward to cooler weather where I imagine more beans, root vegetables, and soups in my diet.
I am passionate about more than food, however. I am excited about taking exceptionally good care of myself. I nourish my spirit more than once a day. I am active and physically fit. I love my career. I have amazing friends in my circle. All of these avenues feed and energize me. What energizes you? I have a CHALLENGE for you. How many different ways can you find to take care of yourself? How many avenues of recharging can you build into your life? Just as there are many kinds and flavors of bread, so there are many ways to administer self-care. Where do you get your metaphorical bread? What is your “bread of life?”
“What is man that you care for him?” ~Psa1m 144:3
As human beings we are meant to consume nourishing foods. We are meant to take care of ourselves. We are meant to be connected to nature, our food, and to each other. So, while food is part of sustaining our beings, there is a much bigger picture. As you care for yourself you are then equipped to care for others. You can only love someone else as much as you love yourself. This is why self-care and eating well are so critical. Human beings are a small part of the picture, but a very important part. I encourage you to find the “bread” of your life. Ignite passion and energy in WHO you are. You are here for an important reason, so fan the flame and shine your Light!
I have reiterated the same thing in several ways. The bottom line is self-care and nourishment. When you are looking at food, choose the best quality possible. When you are looking at your job, find something that is in alignment with your purpose in this world. When you are investing in relationships, choose those people that you know you can help and that can support you. When you connect with God, find ways that give you the strongest and deepest connection. When you nourish yourself, find as many ways as possible to love and care for yourself. You ARE worth it, and your life IS important.
How many times do we read about a miracle food or supplement that promises to give us better eyesight, lower our blood pressure, or reduce our cholesterol? Sometimes these foods or supplements do help some people. Sometimes it is just marketing buzz. How do you discern what will help you become a whole person? And, is it really only about the food? What about other forms of nourishment which address more than just our body? We need to be nourished on many different levels. Our spiritual selves need a healthy dose of “nutrition” just as much as our mental, emotional, and physical selves. In order to integrate all forms of nutrition, you must learn to nourish yourself on all of these levels.
Feeding your physical body is imperative to surviving and thriving in your life. YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT. Experiment with a variety of foods and listen to your body’s response so that you can figure out what works for you. Typical problem foods are sugar, caffeine, dairy, and wheat gluten. Foods that most people thrive on are WHOLE FOODS such as vegetables, beans, and whole grains. Fruits are generally tolerable unless you have unstable blood sugar conditions. Try replacing cereal and milk with a breakfast of whole grains. Take cooking classes to learn how to prepare new foods. Go food shopping with a friend to add excitement to your experimentation. Integrate what you hear and read by trying it on yourself if appropriate. Maybe bananas are not what your body needs right now. Maybe you need more water or more vegetables. The key is to try it on yourself and see how your body feels. Are you more or less energetic after certain foods? Are you able to think more clearly after a week of increasing your vegetable intake and decreasing refined flour and sugar?
What helps you to clear your mind? For most people sitting in silence only serves to increase the volume of our thoughts. Movement can be helpful because as you move, your work out all the thinking that is happening. I encourage you to find the stillness in your mind. We all have that place of silence and peace. The hardest part, until you become proficient, is accessing that still quiet place. If you find yourself doing a lot of thinking and you just cannot figure out how to quiet the voices, change what the voices say. Your way of thinking is part of creating a healthy you or an unhealthy you. If you cannot quiet the voices, then it will help to re-program your thoughts. As soon as you notice a disturbing thought creeping in, flip your “thought switch”. In other words, think about something that brings you joy or create a positive scenario in your mind instead of thinking about the worst case scenario. I am not telling you to neglect your responsibilities or avoid your duties, but I am saying you can change your perception about what is happening in your life. Mental health is key in being a whole person.
What makes you feel good? As long as it does not involve harming yourself or others, DO IT! Developing emotional stability involves becoming in touch with all of your emotions. If you feel joy, express it by passing it onto others or integrating it into your work. If you feel despair, get some support and dig a little deeper to get to the core so that you can let it go and move on in your healing. When you feel angry, instead of stuffing it down as many of us have been taught, find a healthy outlet. An intense workout or a phone call to a friend may suffice. Like food, find what works for you. Experiment with healthy ways of expressing and releasing your emotions. You are human. You are supposed to have a wide range of emotions. It is natural and normal to feel them and express them. I repeat, as long as you are not hurting yourself or others, please express them. People want to see the real you! Do more things for yourself that bring you pleasure. Your friends will want to be around you when you feed your emotional body with pleasure and joy.
This may well be my favorite layer of my wholeness. Integrating more ways to connect to Spirit will go a long way in nourishing all of your other layers. Make an extra effort to seek Divine guidance in your life. Whether you find this through attending church, meditation, or spending time in nature, find YOUR way. Living as someone who is connected to God means that you follow your heart in all that you say and do. In the most complete sense, you are who you say you are. You live your true passions. You are free to be the person that you know you are.
You- a Whole Person
Work on yourself. Work on each layer. Educate yourself and then practice integrating new concepts into your life to develop your growth and healing. Experiment gently with your body, mind, emotions, and spirit. This is your life. You deserve wholeness.
What are you putting on the table this year as you celebrate the holidays? Whatever it is, prepare it with gratitude. Eat it with gratitude. Digest it with gratitude. Giving thanks for your food is more than just saying an obligatory prayer. It is more than giving forth a blessing. Giving thanks in its truest sense is a way of living. Living in gratitude lays the foundation for truly getting the most nourishment out of your food and your life.
When it comes to food, what are you thankful for? Write down a list of at least three things you love about your food. Maybe you are happy you know how to cook. Perhaps you just discovered a local place where you can get a free-range turkey for Thanksgiving. Maybe your discerning palate appreciates eating slowly as you taste all the rich flavors of the season. Most of us do not take the time or even realize the importance of sending gratitude to ourselves. Therefore, for an even bigger challenge, write down a list of things you love about yourself as an eater. For example, you may be grateful that you stop eating when you are satisfied. Or perhaps you congratulate yourself for choosing healthful foods to put in your body. There is always something amazing to find within yourself to appreciate. Continue to add things to your lists of gratitude. When you appreciate your food and yourself as an eater, you will begin to appreciate other aspects of yourself and your life.
Try this simple exercise to cultivate your gratitude. Choose a meal for which you have plenty of time to eat in a relaxed fashion. Every time you take a bite, think of something for which you can give thanks as you chew. To inspire your attitude of gratitude, think about the person that grew your food. Imagine the hard work they put into cultivating the soil. If you are eating something out of a package, send thoughts of appreciation to the person who packaged the food. Other ideas are to thank your digestive system for working. Place your hand over the area where your stomach is (on the left under your bottom ribs) and send gratitude to your stomach for its role in digesting your food. Thank your jaw for working well so that you can chew your food.
Increase your feelings and thoughts of gratitude beyond your food. What is working well in your life? Give thanks for the little stuff! Begin to pay attention to the little things that are going well for you in your life and the little things will turn into bigger things. Finding joy in the small stuff keeps you focused on gratitude. Focusing on joy and gratitude enables the manifestation of a life you are excited to live! Write your gratitude. As you discover all the little things for which you are grateful, write them down to cement them in your heart.
As always, when you are eating healthy foods in a peaceful manner, you will gain clarity… clarity about what you have in your life for which to give thanks and clarity about your life in general. The cleaner your foods (organic and full of nutrients), the better your body and mind will work. Your emotions will be more balanced. If your body does not have process toxins in the form of pesticides and chemical fertilizers, it will be free to create health rather than recovering from a stress response caused by toxins. The concept is simple. Living it by incorporating pure foods is your mission as you are creating a life full of gratitude.
Here is a quick review for cultivating gratitude in your life.
- Give thanks for your food.
- Write down a list of what you are grateful for about your food.
- Write down what you are grateful for in yourself as an eater.
- Give thanks with each bite.
- Send gratitude to your body for digesting your food.
- Send gratitude to the person who prepared/packaged your food. (It is ok to send it to yourself!)
- Pay attention to the little things that are working well and write them down.
- Incorporate more pure, clean foods into your lifestyle.
- Enjoy the process and thank yourself for creating a life full of gratitude!
You are worthy of having a heart full of thanksgiving and joy. Cultivate gratitude every day in the ways that make sense to you and marvel at the beautiful person that is you!
I am a food junkie. This does not mean I eat junk food. This means I am crazy about all things regarding healthy food! Food intrigues me. I find joy and pleasure in experiencing my food. I am fascinating by the growing and preparation processes. I love to study nutrition. Mostly I like to experiment with food and my body. Does the food I eat increase or decrease my energy? Does it improve or disrupt my digestion? I like to do what works for my body regardless of what nutrition studies show. Food is indeed one of my favorite hobbies. Below you will find some suggestions if you would like to join me in starting a hobby with food!
If you do not have enough land to grow a small garden, check out www.earthbox.com. You can grow your own vegetables or fruit out of a box! There are many new options such as hydroponics growing systems (using only water) or systems that use air and light, but I recommend using good old-fashioned dirt. That is where the minerals are. If your soil is of poor quality, consider using a safe seaweed fertilizer. Seaweed adds minerals back into the soil. Gardening is a wonderful project if you want your kids or grandchildren to see where food really comes from. Plus, you get a chance to spend time with nature and feel the earth up close and personal!
VOLUNTEER TO WORK ON FARM
If the above option does not work for you, find a local farm that grows produce and volunteer an hour or two of your time. If you do a good job, maybe you will get a chance to taste test some of the food they grow! Being in the energy of growing and freshly picked food is an experience unlike any other. If you have never had the opportunity to try a raspberry newly plucked from the prickers, it is a must-try! Cherry tomatoes straight from the vine are better than candy. Food is fun when it is fresh!
PLAY WITH YOUR FOOD
Literally, play with your food. Children especially love this. Slice an apple, spread peanut butter on top and decorate with raisins for eyes, shredded coconut for hair, sunflower seeds for a smile… Be creative! Use toothpicks to add appendages to carrots then decorate the toothpicks with raisins or another dried fruit or even a vegetable.
Eat a meal with your fingers
If you are concerned about your children learning an unacceptable social habit, frame the meal as a cultural experience. People in
Feed your partner
Whether it’s a friend or lover, feeding someone else and being fed by someone else is a unique experience. You never know what will show up on the fork now that someone else has control! Eat with your eyes closed for even more mystique.
COOK WITH A FRIEND
Preparing food with a friend adds loving energy to your food. Be sure to listen to your favorite music and laugh a lot as you cook to infuse your food with good vibrations. Get your bare hands involved- instead of using a utensil to mix or stir ingredients, use your hands. As with most things in life, food is more fun when you do it with someone else.
EAT THE FOOD YOU ENJOY
Make food your friend. Rather than eating only what you think you should, eat what you like. I am not saying to pick up poor eating habits. I am saying that it is important to enjoy the healthy foods that you choose for your body. If a magazine article conveys that kiwi are the best thing for you, but you don’t enjoy kiwi, then don’t eat them! There are so many healthy options out there. Try a new one each week, so that you can discover what you enjoy!
LIVE DANGEROUSLY AT THE GROCERY STORE
Following up on the previous paragraph, be adventurous when you shop. If you are already somewhat of a food connoisseur, expand your horizons by finding an international foods store and try something new. If you are used to the same fruits and vegetables, each time you shop, try one new fruit or vegetable. Variety is fun- be brave!
CULTURE YOUR FOOD
I am not talking about training your food to enter high class society. I am speaking of fermentation or culturing your food. Cultured foods have higher enzyme content, and for most people (without complicated digestive issues) are an excellent addition to your diet as they aid in digestion. Sally Fallon’s book, “Nourishing Traditions” is a great resource for how to culture or ferment foods.
Is food simply fuel for you or is a fun and exciting hobby? How do you transition from just eating out of necessity or to really making food fun in your life? I have outlined several ideas from which to choose. Pick one that works for you!
Take a journey with me. Imagine you are a kernel of wheat. Depending on a variety of factors, the possibilities of what you will become are virtually endless. For example, if you were grown by a kind, loving farmer who tended to you carefully, watered you with pure, clean water and was happy to be a farmer, you will be a happy kernel of wheat with vibrant energy. On the other hand, if you were genetically modified for mass production and profit so that you could be ground into flour, bleached and enriched and made into crackers with partially hydrogenated oils, you will be one unhappy “kernel” of wheat with little to no nutritional value.
Which kernel of wheat would you rather be? Which kernel of wheat would you rather eat? Growing conditions and the energy put into growing your food in part determines the spirituality of the food you are eating. The spirituality and quality of your food in part determines how your spirit is nourished. Look a little deeper with me.
The first kernel of wheat has vibrant energy because the person growing it put his loving energy into it. The soil quality was rich and organic. The water was from a mountain-fed spring, containing many minerals and nutrients. The second kernel of wheat was grown from a genetically modified seed so that it could be mass produced in poor growing conditions to be sold for the ultimate profit. The soil was filled with pesticides and fertilizers (a.k.a. chemicals). The water was probably recycled and chlorinated. The seed was not planted and tended by human hands, but rather by machines using petrochemicals as fuel. The fumes from that fuel settled into the dirt and therefore became part of the plant. Don’t tell me that the bleaching of the flour cleansed the wheat from all this contamination. In fact the bleaching process added more contaminants and chemicals. In addition the processing of this poor kernel of wheat destroyed the nutrients and denatured the proteins to such an extent that the “powers that be” decided it needed to be enriched with vitamins and nutrients (no longer in their whole food form) so that your body perhaps gains some nutrition by eating it. In actuality your body no longer recognizes this “kernel” of wheat as a food substance and instead recognizes it as a toxic substance. Your body is highly intelligent. Take a moment to acknowledge this now. After this substance (bleached, enriched flour) is formed it is then combined with other harmful substances such as partially hydrogenated oils or high fructose corn syrup to form packaged foods meant to last a long time on the shelves of the grocery store. Further, the workers at the packaging plant are probably not happy to be working there, as they are working in artificially lit conditions with little pay.
Do you see how the spirit of this poor kernel of wheat has been leached away? Do you see how your spirit can become deadened by eating deadened food? The food you eat influences your state of health- spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical. What foods will you choose to enhance your spiritual being?
The above scenarios are the best and the worst of what can happen. Have you decided which life you want for yourself? Most likely you will find that your food choices fall somewhere in the middle of this spectrum. As you choose your food, use conscious awareness to the best of your ability. Consider where the food was grown. How far has it traveled to get to your dinner table? What were the growing conditions? Do you know the people who grew it? If you eat animal protein, what kind of food were they fed? Were they packed together in factory farms without sunlight and with lots of antibiotics and hormones or were they free-ranging in the sunlight eating grass? You have the power to choose. You are intelligent to make the right choices for your body. Eat your food. You do not have to let it eat you.
I am so grateful to have a local farm where I can get fresh, pure vegetables. My food choices extend far beyond the farm, however. If I eat a packaged food, I want to know the ingredients. Are the foods still in whole food form or have they been pushed through an extruder with heat and pressure to form a cereal flake? How has my olive oil or butter been processed? As a Holistic Health Counselor, I practice extreme self-care. Making the food choices that are best for my body is a powerful way for me to feed my spirit.
What kind of relationship do you have with your food? Is it a love/hate relationship? Is it an obsessive/compulsive relationship? Is it a relationship of unmet expectations and confusion? If you are fortunate, it is a relationship of nourishment, satisfaction, and contentment.
What would it mean to you if you really were in love with your food? For me it means that I love myself, therefore I care about what goes into my body. Loving myself means that I choose my food carefully. Because I know that I literally become what I eat, I only eat food that I love! When I buy or prepare food for myself, I only choose foods that I like and that work well in my body.
The following are a few tips for falling in love with your food:
- Re-connect with your body. In order to know if your body loves a food, you have to pay attention to your body’s response. You may love the taste of brownies, but does refined flour and sugar work well in your body? Your gut is where you digest your food and is the center of your intuition. Pay attention to what your gut is telling you, both on a physical level and an intuitive level!
- Eat the foods you enjoy and see how you feel after eating them. You may have heard that broccoli is good for you, but do you really enjoy eating it? You may think that you enjoy donuts and coffee, but do they truly make you feel good in your mind, body, and spirit?
- Try something new. Try something exotic like a fresh lychee nut or durian fruit (available at international food stores). Be adventurous and daring. Have you ever had okra? Maybe today is the day!
- Pay attention to the sensory aspects of your food. Consume fruits and vegetables with bright colors such blueberries, pomegranates, red beets, or purple cauliflower. (Purchase local and/or organic to avoid added dyes that may not be on the label.) Try new textures found in sprouted grain bread or an avocado. Before you put food in your mouth, inhale its aroma.
- Make a conscious effort to connect with your food. Consider where it came from. Who grew it? Were they nourished, satisfied, and content? Support a local farmer and get to know him or her. Being connected to your food means being connected to its source, which ultimately brings you back to connecting to yourself, because the same energy that grows our food is the same energy that grows us.
- Express gratitude. Whatever you choose to put in your body, give thanks for the nourishment. If you begrudgingly eat your healthy food, how much love are you really showing yourself? Eat with a thankful heart and you will begin to love the food you are eating.
If after trying the tips above, you still have not fallen in love with your food, then it is an opportunity for you dig deeper. Instead of searching for answers outside of yourself, look for the answers inside. Do you love yourself? Do you love your job? Are you in love with the people in your life? The answers may not come immediately. They will come when you are truly ready to see them and face yourself. It is not always easy to face the truth of what is inside, but when you start to embrace all of yourself (including your eating habits) falling in love with your food becomes innate to your way of being.
Each day you are faced with choices about how to live your life. If your life is not working, consider where you want to start making better choices to add love into your life. Maybe you want to add another healthy food in to your lifestyle. Maybe you want to find a friend who really understands who you are and supports you 100%. Perhaps you want to do something just for you… something you really love.
Friday, October 26, 2007
Peaceful foods may be different for different people. Bio-individuality says that eating grains may be a peaceful way of eating for some people but not for others. For example, whole grains can be peace-promoting because they are calming for the nervous system due to their Vitamin B content. However, if your digestive system is not equipped to digest grain, this can be very disruptive and not a peaceful experience for your gut. If you experience bloating, flatulence, brain fog (unclear thinking), acne, and other symptoms, this may be an indication that your body has difficulty digesting grains. (These symptoms may also indicate other issues and have nothing to do with grain or flour consumption.) Even organic whole grains may be difficult for your body to digest. Soaking your grains overnight before cooking can be very helpful to neutralize the phytic acid in order to make them easier to digest. Eating gluten free grains such as quinoa, amaranth, millet, and rice may also be a better option for you.
If you find that your body needs animal protein, peaceful forms are found in animals that have been eating organic grass while free-ranging in the sunlight. Sunlight is important for Vitamin D, which is essential for your body. (Vitamin D that has been added to dairy products is not in the same form as the Vitamin D found naturally in animal protein, and is therefore harmful rather than helpful.) Free-ranging is important because factory-farmed animals raised in tight spaces and are breathing toxic air and often eating each other’s excrement or other toxic “nonfoods”. Does this seem peaceful to you? Vitamin B12 is also found in animal protein, and is a peace-promoting vitamin because it is essential for nervous system function as it maintains healthy nerve cells.
If you find that you do well with protein from vegetables, the best vegetables to promote peace in your gut are those that are easy for you to digest. For some people, eating raw vegetables is great because all the enzymes are present for digestion. For others consuming cooked vegetables is very healing because of the nutrients that are released with cooking. For example, Paul Pitchford asserts that the iron value of raw broccoli is 6 percent and jumps to 30 percent with cooking! Green vegetables are great for providing peace in your heart because green is a healing color and corresponds with your heart chakra.
Water is essential for achieving inner peace. Dehydration is an opportunity for disease to develop. Maintaining hydrated cells is crucial for communication and other body processes. Your brain is approximately 80% water. Your nervous system can achieve a higher state of smooth function and therefore calm if it is well hydrated. Also, think about how you feel when you sit beside a peaceful, flowing stream. If your bodily functions are flowing smoothly…. aaahhh… peace.
Finding the way of eating that works for you is crucial to finding inner peace. If you listen to something that worked for someone else, but when you try it, it does not work for you, you are on your way to finding your peace because you are becoming more aware about food and your body. Whatever way of eating you choose, the key is eat slowly and in a peaceful state of mind. If you are eating while you multi-task or are stressed, your food will be harder to digest. If you chew your food and pay attention to what you are eating, it will be digested more thoroughly. The way you digest your food correlates to the way to “digest” life. If you are digesting your food well, you will be more prepared to discover your inner peace in other areas of your life.
I typically like to focus on what works… healthy foods that make us feel great. However, it is also important to know what does not work- those foods that suppress brain function, devastate the immune system, and lead to disease and illness.
Sugar has a scattering effect in the brain and suppresses the function of your immune system. Not to mention the effect on insulin and your pancreas. Refined, processed sugars are one of the worst things we can consume. It can cause mood swings, fatigue, anxiety, and more. It leaches minerals from our tissues and bones. Artificial sweeteners are worse. They cause the same addictive patterns and insulin reaction in your body as sugar, plus your body has to process and detoxify from the chemicals used in the sweetener.
Monosodium glutamate can cause severe headaches, fatigue, disturbed digestion, and a host of other symptoms. Just because the package does not have MSG listed as an ingredient, does not mean it does not contain it in hidden forms. Some examples of hidden forms of MSG are citric acid, natural flavorings, yeast extract, torula yeast, and anything hydrolyzed, autolyzed, or isolated. Sorry, this means that anything that contains isolated soy or whey protein can be a hidden form of MSG. When these fragile proteins are processed to become isolated from the whole food, free glutamic acid is released. Free glutamic acid is what causes the MSG reaction in your body. (More detailed information can be found here. http://www.westonaprice.org/modernfood/dirty-secrets.html )
Much of the typical packaged food found in grocery stores contains refined flours, sugars, and dangerous added ingredients. Artificial colorings and flavorings are frequently added to “food” marketed towards children. Refined flours can clog your gut causing fatigue, acne, bloating, weight gain, and more. Artificial colorings and flavorings are part of the cause for autism, ADHD, and other such diagnoses.
Factory farmed meat
Meat from animals which are not free-ranging in the sunlight, eating organic grass contains a host of health destroying qualities. From the added hormones and anti-biotics, to the poor feed quality and toxic environment in which they are raised, factory farmed meat contains little if any usable nutrition. Your liver will be so busy detoxifying from all the toxic waste stored in the fat and muscle tissue of the animal that it won’t have much of a chance to absorb any nutrition that may be available. Organic, free-ranging animals provide Essential Fatty Acids, and are much cleaner than factory farmed animals. Plus they are happy eating grass while they enjoy the sunlight.
Buy Local and Organic
If you want vitality in your health, it is important to know your alternatives to typical grocery store food. One key to vitality is to eat simple foods. If you are eating produce that is locally grown, you are generally avoiding preservatives, added coloring (used in fruit and vegetables for visual appeal), and gassing (used to speed the ripening process). Find a local farm near you. http://www.buylocalpa.com/ Some local farms also sell meat and dairy without anti-biotics and hormones. If you choose locally grown organic produce, you will boost your vitality even more!
Buy and cook in bulk
Whole grains and beans provide excellent nutrition and are cost-effective, especially if you buy them in bulk (even when buying organic). Cook a big batch at the beginning of the week and scoop out what you need as you go through your week. Add your favorite spices to create a variety of dishes with the same grains or beans as the base ingredients.
Look for simple ingredients
If you eat packaged foods, look for a short ingredient list and simple, easy to understand ingredients. If an ingredient looks long and complicated and you don’t know what it is, put the package back on the shelf. Avoid sugar-free and no-fat foods. They are not healthy and are merely a marketing ploy.
Go at your own pace
Eating healthy may seem overwhelming and complicated at first, but if you implement one new thing at a time, it is much easier. Some people like to try one new vegetable a week and some like to try one new thing each month. Allow yourself to go at your own pace. Eating healthy does not have to be all-or-nothing. If you overeat at a party or eat an unhealthy food, this is not a reason to quit. You can give yourself a second or even a 100th chance to start fresh.